Campus Closeup: Harvey Scherer
If you’re near the starting gate for next Friday’s sled dog race in downtown Marquette, look for Harvey Scherer (Plant Operations). He will be one of four hustlers working the corner of Washington and Fourth Streets, donning a white bib that reads “U.P. 200 Hooker.”
The connotation is a joke, of course. The quartet of race volunteers will indeed be hustling—as in moving quickly. But only for the perfectly legal and moral purpose of preventing 12-dog tandems from leaving the chute too early.
“There’s a cable stretched across the starting line and when the teams get up there, we attach their snow hook to the cable so they don’t start before their designated time,” Scherer said. “We started making fun of the fact we were the official U.P.200 hookers and it stuck. I also work at the vet check the morning of the race.”
Scherer approaches his volunteer role with added insight gleaned from 12 years as a recreational musher. He could often be found perched on the back of a sled as his dogs carved up the trails on the 50 acres he owns toward Big Bay. He decided to retire from the sport three years ago.
“Finances were tight at that time and I had to make a decision whether to continue mushing for a lifetime or bring it to an end. I didn’t get rid of all my dogs when I got out of it like some people do. Of the original dozen, I still have six. I let them kick back and have a good time; they’ve earned it.”
Mushers thrive on abundant snowfall, but because of his multi-faceted job at NMU, Scherer doesn’t necessarily share that sentiment anymore. He is heavily impacted by the wintry weather in all of his capacities: heavy equipment operator, landscaping specialist and motorcoach driver.
“This year is the absolute worst in the three years I’ve been in this position. Some of the guys I work with say they remember even worse, but I can’t imagine. We can plow eight hours a day, even when it’s not snowing, because you’re always pushing back banks to make room for more snow. A three-man crew works every Saturday for four to six hours and that’s just designed to clear designated parking lots so we can get the cars in and out.”
Scherer said NMU doesn’t have the big trucks required to haul away accumulated snow piles like the City of Marquette crews, so they have to push it back with plows or use a heavy-duty snowblower attached to one of the loaders that can fire “several hundred feet” into available open spaces.
Before he joined the plant operations team, Scherer served as a buildings and grounds attendant in Cohodas for two years. He also was a custodian and bus driver for Marquette Area Public Schools and spent 21 years with the U.S. Coast Guard. He retired as the officer in charge of the Marquette station in 1992.
Scherer and his wife, Gini, have three grown daughters: Mary in Ishpeming, Megan in Chassell and Michele in Warrenton, Va. They also have two grandchildren, with another expected in June.