As WF grows, groundskeepers keep busy maintaining schools
WEST FARGO - When Pete Diemert became the West Fargo School District’s buildings and grounds director in 1991, he had only one groundskeeper on staff and the district grounds spanned about 100 acres.
Both have since doubled and the district grounds only keep growing.
Today, Diemert has three full-time groundskeepers plus the help of custodians, volunteers, youth and other staff doing the job.
“We vary on how many guys we have working on grounds by the need,” he said.
How much ground do they cover?
“I would guess it’s in the range of 200 acres,” Diemert said.
That includes the two elementary schools in Horace and Harwood.
There, Horace Elementary custodians Pam Nygard and Donna Berg revived a flower bed with plants donated by Petal Pushers Greenhouse in Emden, N.D., owned by Nygard’s brother.
“That’s one of the projects they took on,” Diemert said.
“We’ve added 100 acres in the last few years,” he said.
There’re 10 district football/practice fields and three soccer fields to groom. Next year there will be 12.
“That starts early- to mid-July, getting the fields ready,” he said.
It takes a lot of water, about 50,000 to 60,000 gallons per watering for West Fargo High School’s four football and practice fields, he said.
“That’s why we don’t water everything, every night,” Diemert said.
Add to that another 80,000 gallons per watering – 15,000 gallons for the football field alone – for the district’s new Sheyenne High School grounds, where water is pumped from a rainwater retention pond, Diemert said.
“We do follow the restrictions for watering,” he said. “I’m in contact with the city to make sure that it’s all right.”
The district contracts with outside firms for weed control, he said.
“We can’t do that when school is going on so we’re limited to time frames when we can spray,” Diemert said.
His department periodically works with North Dakota State University and “other experts in the field,” with those types of concerns, Diemert said.
A state-supported youth program provides summer helpers who take care of flowers and mulch beds, he said.
“When I started, I had one guy mowing,” Diemert said.
As the school district grows, his team becomes busier.
“We don’t have empty schools in the summer anymore. Our buildings and grounds are busy all the time,” Diemert said.
“It’s growing faster than we can keep up with sometimes, like everything else in West Fargo School District,” said Diemert.