Pals, colleagues keep things working
Updated: December 30, 2012 6:13AM
Old Man Winter himself might feel warm and fuzzy knowing Andrew Skula and Kurt Smith of Wilmette Public Works. Skula, utility/street supervisor, and Smith, maintenance supervisor, began working together in the summer of 1991. Meet two men and a plow.
Q. Kurt, are you a winter or summer person?
A. I was born in Chicago, and reside in the Northwest suburbs. When I was younger, I enjoyed the snow. As I get older I seem to like it less and less, but it is nice to have it on the holidays. Just not a lot.
Q. Andre, tell us about yourself.
A. I live in Glenview, I have three children; Andre John Skula , 23, a chef at the Michigan Shores Club in Wilmette. Courtney Ann Skula, a sophomore at Lakes High School in Antioch. She enjoys tennis and has been a straight A student for the last eight years, and my little Samantha Rose Skula, 7, a second grader at Millburn Elementary near Antioch. She enjoys painting on canvas and cooking with her dad. My hobbies are cooking and attending wine/dinner pairings. In the summer I enjoy spending time with my children in Wisconsin at my camper.
Q. Andre, is Wilmette a part of the Windy City?
A. Wilmette experiences lake effect snow and higher winds near the lakefront. I have seen sunny skies west of Ridge Road, and heavy snow east of Ridge Road at the same time. It is not uncommon to see snow and wind on the east side of town while the west remains unaffected.
Q. Kurt, do you like Chicago glacially repurposed geography?
A. The lake can present a challenge with winter weather. It could be snowing on the lakefront and a mile to the west the sun is shining.
Q. So Andre, should Old Man Winter let it snow?
A. No! After 22 years of battling snow I would prefer not to see it ever again! But when it does come, I am still ready for it.
Q. Andre, so then it’s safe to assume you are not a winter person …
A. Definitely a summer person, I hate winter! Winter is too confining and given my position, it is impossible to make plans for the fear of that dreadful four letter word falling from the sky.
Q. Kurt, talk about your job.
A. These types of jobs (Public Works) are basically behind the scenes. Our work (snow season) is primarily conducted while residents are sleeping. It takes quite a bit out of your life sometimes being away from your family, Christmas, New Years. But it needs to be done and I take great pride in that.
Q. Andre, you and Kurt literally cover common ground, right?
A. Kurt Smith and I started pretty close to the same time. I am the senior employee of the two; I started in June of 1991 and Kurt a month later. Together we built a great working relationship sharing the same work ethics. Through the years we have seen many changes here, whether it be personnel, programs, equipment or the way things are done. The Village continually strives to make Wilmette a good place to live and work.
Q. Andre, how many lane miles, cul de sacs and alleys make a good first pass in any snowstorm?
A. There are over 300 lane miles in the community, 119 cul de sacs, 18 miles of alleys, 166 miles of sidewalks (40 miles of which are school walking routes and business commuter routes which are done more frequently). There are also 20 bus shelter locations throughout the village that are cleaned after significant snowfalls. After all snow operations have ceased, and after several inches of snowfall, snow that is deposited (along the curb or in piles) from equipment in the business areas must be removed for safe unimpeded access for merchants and customers.