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Fall 2009

Expansion Calls for New Schools, More Equipment

Public school district adds new Bobcat tractor and loader to prepare for growth

Elkhorn, Neb., has everything you'd want in a small town, with the amenities of a big city in its backyard. Many people are making the community their new home, as evidenced by the population explosion in the past 15 years, which has grown Elkhorn to five times its size since 1990.

Along with the population surge is the need for new schools, including a second high school that was approved in 2006 as part of a $96 million bond issue. The district's enrollment has increased by approximately 6 percent each year, according to Kevin Garrison. He is in charge of the buildings and grounds maintenance department for the Elkhorn Public School district. Estimates show that by the 2010 – 2011 school year, the district's enrollment will climb as high as 5,500. All of these factors led to the need for reliable grounds maintenance equipment.

Kevin Garrison

A new 45-horsepower Bobcat compact tractor with an enclosed cab will help Kevin Garrison and the Elkhorn Public School District keep up with the expanding enrollment and new facilities.

New Bobcat acquisitions

In response to the growing need for newer and more versatile equipment, Garrison purchased a 45-horsepower Bobcat® CT445 compact tractor and S185 skid-steer loader from Bobcat of Omaha. He says these were needed to maintain the grounds at nine current properties and three new ones.

Garrison oversees a maintenance department with six employees. He depends on them to help with purchasing new equipment, evaluating the machines, and determining what the best option is. Garrison says his employees told him they were impressed with the Bobcat tractor when they compared it to their current brand.

"They especially like the enclosed cab with plenty of room and good visibility," he says. "The air-conditioned cab is another big plus for the guys, especially as they do a lot of mowing." "The other feature that we found useful was the ability to detach the bucket and add the pallet fork to lift and carry items," he notes.

Maintenance employees will operate a number of three-point hitch implements on the back of the CT445, such as an aerator and seeder on the ball fields. Changing the three-point implements is made easier with the rear remote three-point position control lever.

"We can raise and lower from the outside," he says. "It makes it easier, so you don't have to run around to the front to try and adjust it and guess if it's enough." Garrison expects the tractor will save his crew time when they mow. "We have been using smaller mowers to cut the grass on the various properties; this should help it get done faster," he notes. "The new high school is roughly 60 acres, so there's a lot of ground to cover." Prepared for future growth, the Elkhorn Public School District is ready to meet the grounds maintenance challenges that lie ahead.

Click here to read about more Bobcat products geared for buildings and grounds professionals.

In-house projects save district money

The Elkhorn Public School District bought the Bobcat S185 to let employees do some of the work themselves. "We'll be replacing parking lot pads that are cracked, sidewalks that are broken, and we can use Bobcat loader and breaker attachment instead of hiring it out," Garrison says. He estimates one contract was almost $40,000. "Granted, it's an up-front cost, but in a relatively short amount of time, you should be able to recoup a lot of that," he says. "Eventually, we will save the school district money because we'll have the talents and resources to do some projects in-house as opposed to outsourcing," he says.