CMC Route, Mt. MoranCMC Route, Mt. Moran

Now and then:

LCCC's ground maintenance manager Pam Babcock retired this spring after 32 years with the college.

Courtesy, Ike Fredregill

Retiree heads for back nine

Winter storms continue to spread confusion and disaster throughout the continental United States, and yet, as if by magic, at 7 each morning the Laramie County Community College’s parking lot, although slick, is clear of snowdrifts and packed with cars parked like crooked teeth.

During Wyoming’s blizzard season the day starts at 2 a.m. for Pam Babcock, LCCC’s manager of grounds maintenance. Her crew arrives in the wee morning hours to clear snow from the parking lot and sidewalks for students, staff and faculty alike.

 

When the college is open late and the snow continues to fall, Babcock’s crew work in split shifts to keep the grounds clear throughout the day and into the night.

Babcock, who has managed the LCCC grounds since 1982, is retiring this spring. “It’s just time,” Babcock lamented and took in the college seemingly one last time. “My eyes and joints just aren’t what they used to be.”

Native of Boulder moves to Cheyenne

Babcock is a native of Boulder, Colo., who moved to Cheyenne after earning her bachelor’s degree in landscape horticulture from Colorado State University. Babcock said she and her husband plan to stay in Cheyenne for a while after her retirement. She added she planned to work at the Cheyenne Country Club during the summer and looked forward to tending the golf course greenery.

As the stout grounds’ manager talked frankly about her years caring for all things outdoors, her weathered features beamed with genuine warmth. Passion danced in her striking, gray eyes as she explained that the USDA classifies Cheyenne, Wyo., as a planting zone 5. Babcock said it really should be considered a zone 4 because of the wind.  

In high school, Babcock decided to pursue her love for the outdoors as a career. She said she was working at a reclamation area in Boulder County, Colo., when the turf management instructor, a professor from CSU, encouraged her on her path toward working with nature.

After college, Babcock worked at a landscaping company in Denver, Colo., then at the exclusive Old Baldy Club golf course in Saratoga, Wyo., before taking over for Everett Rhodes as LCCC’s manager of grounds maintenance. Rhodes also oversaw plant maintenance.

LCCC Foundation Director of Scholarships Brenda Laird said, “Anyone who gets up at 2 a.m. to shovel the college’s sidewalk truly loves the college.”

Babcock and Laird first met during a highway cleanup project. Babcock is reserved and passionate about people, said Laird, who has worked at LCCC for 24 years.

CMC Route, Mt. Moran

"Like a car":

Pam Babcock is rumored to be able to maneuver LCCC's heavy equipment as skillfully as some drive a car. Her maintenance crew has used similar equipment to clear approximately 15,360 acres or 24 square miles of pavement during her 32 years as ground manager.

Photo by Ike Fredregill.

Laird’s bubbly personality and contagious laugh filled the room as she explained Babcock is a person who would not ask something of others she wouldn’t just as soon do herself.

“She drives big equipment like I drive a car,” Laird exclaimed as she looked out the window to the mounds of snow piled neatly between LCCC’s parking lots.

Babcock, superhero of campus

Babcock’s job affects everyone on campus every day, Laird said. She added that keeping everyone happy was, in her opinion, the grounds manager’s biggest challenge.

Babcock’s gravelly voice cracked as she confided the hardest part of her job was losing longtime friends she made while working at LCCC throughout the years. Despite the knee-deep flooding in ’85, the occasional six-month blizzard season and the growing threat of beetle infestation in the spruce and pines on campus, Babcock said it hasn’t been all bad. The use of cellphones and the installation of irrigation systems have made her job easier, she said. Technology, Babcock explained, has saved her crew a lot of legwork and provided the time to stay on top of other projects constantly popping up around LCCC’s campus.

Vicki Boreing, assistant to the president, smiled as she talked about Babcock’s grounds maintenance crew occasionally leaving fresh-cut irises on her desk in the summer. Boreing, whose brightly colored, high-heeled shoes are the fashion highlight of the semimonthly LCCC Board of Trustees meetings, had told Babcock during a conversation about the blooming campus flowers that irises were her favorite flower as a child.

Boreing started working at LCCC in 1987 and remembered one situation in which a paddling of doves at LCCC was drawing several complaints about their digestive habits. She applauded Babcock for cautiously approaching the situation and being conscience of removing the doves without causing them harm.

At home, Babcock likes to nap while her husband fishes as well as enjoys sewing and reading, but she holds a special place in her heart for trees.

She keeps an inventory of all the trees on campus: type, age, treatment for bugs or disease, when they were last pruned and what fertilizers have been used on them. And, throughout the years, she has compiled a continuity manual to help her successor maintain the grounds after she retired.

“The trees I’ve planted are kind of my babies,” Babcock cooed. “I’m going to miss taking care of them.” Her bobbed, gray-faded hair bounced as she chuckled and added, “But I won’t miss snow removal.”

 

 


Pam Babcock