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First times a charm for Tarleton grounds keepers

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First times a charm for Tarleton grounds keepers

The front Tarleton State University, in the bottom right you can see one of the flower beds that are maintained by the grounds crew.

The front Tarleton State University, in the bottom right you can see one of the flower beds that are maintained by the grounds crew.

The JTAC Brittainie Cason

The front Tarleton State University, in the bottom right you can see one of the flower beds that are maintained by the grounds crew.

The JTAC Brittainie Cason

The JTAC Brittainie Cason

The front Tarleton State University, in the bottom right you can see one of the flower beds that are maintained by the grounds crew.

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The Tarleton State University grounds keepers have been recognized for all the work they do to keep Tarleton beautiful. The groundskeepers work five days a week for eight hours and on the weekend if need be. There are 14 full time grounds keepers, a ground supervisor and 10 to 20 part time student workers employed by Mike Newton, the manager of grounds maintenance for SSC Service Solutions, a subsidiary of  Compass Group North America. Their hard work has paid off as they have received the Grand Award in the University and College Grounds category from the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) at the 2018 Society’s Green Star Awards competition. This award is the highest award received at the competition and given to only one school in that category, showing that Tarleton has one of the best kept grounds.

Tarleton’s grounds department’s vision statement is, “The grounds department strives to provide quality service and create an environment that is conducive for learning, teaching and working for all student, faculty and staff. Additionally, the grounds department aims to support the University’s vision of being the premier student focused university in Texas and beyond.” The grounds keepers mainly focus on making the first impression of Tarleton a great one for prospective students and their families or visitors, setting the tone for the rest of their visit. 

“My crews mostly do anything outdoors,” Newton said. “All the lawn services on campus, the shrubs, the annual bedding of plants, all the color that you see out there, the mulch, trimming the shrubs, we power wash sidewalks, patios, any of the concrete surfaces that need it.”

The grounds crew put together a power point and submitted to PGMS for the award. The power point had to cover six judging criteria, turf management, landscape, safety of the crew members, challenges, their budget and any sustainable practices. Throughout the power point there are pictures and notes for each slide explaining what is in the picture and what their crew has done to get it to its immaculate shape. For example, Tarleton has a flower, the Tarleton Iris. It was crossbred and created for the perfect purple by J.V. Laird. The grounds keeping crew cleans up after at tailgates, in any parking lots or sidewalks. A few of their biggest challenges are the constant construction, the recent ice storm and the biggest is Tarleton’s annual homecoming bonfire.

One of the biggest things students can do to help keep the campus clean and help the crew workers out is be mindful of their trash. 

“Especially in parking lots,” Newton said. “When you are parked in commuter parking lots and even some of the red lots, you have to walk a long way sometimes to get to the first trash receptacle you see so a lot of times you see people dropping stuff in the parking lot.” 

Newton says they go and sweep all the lots because the trash will reach campus and trash the campus. Another thing students can do is adhere to not walking on the grass. Don’t cut corners and take the sidewalks, grass grows by the inch but dies by the foot. Newton has visited other campus and he says he is blessed with students at Tarleton because we do not have as big as a trash and dead grass problem as other campus’.

“I was super excited,” Newton said about winning the award. “It’s a big deal for me, it’s a big deal for people in my industry.”

Tarleton beat out schools like Baylor, Penn State and Prairie View A&M. Newton has been at Tarleton for 15 years and him and his crew has been working for the past 12 years to prepare for this award. This was Tarleton’s first year entering the competition. Newton and his crew could not help but express their joy for winning an award their first year.

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