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Melting Magic: Crandon AD's unique wood ash method helps clear snow-covered fields in two daysSubmitted: 04/20/2018

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CRANDON - With wide stretches of crusty white snow in all directions, the Crandon High School baseball and softball fields stand out as two big brown blobs; beautiful in the eyes of Josh Jaeger.

"It makes it look like I'm a genius, that I know exactly how to do all these chemistry experiments to melt snow faster and it's simply just a trick that I stumbled upon." Jaeger said.

The first-year activities director walked around the fields Friday just two days after it was covered in "deep drifts," as Jaeger described it.


With his teams unable to even play a single game yet, Jaeger decided to try a home remedy for clearing the snow. He uses wood ash from an outdoor burner as fertilizer and snow melt at his house (an idea he found after doing some online research), so he decided to try it on a large-scale at the fields.

"You don't need a thick coating of it, all you need is just a light dusting," Jaeger said of the ash.

Jaeger couldn't spread the ash on his own. He recruited players to carry buckets of the ash through a trail in the snow leading up to the field. After about 24 hours, the ash was already doing its job.

"They're used to me and all of my crazy ideas," Jaeger said.

Wednesday, softball and baseball players spread the ash on about five acres of fields, then let the potassium salts and sun-absorbing color go to work.

But finding enough ash in the first place took a little extra work. Jaeger went to Nicolet Hardwoods saw mill and asked for any leftover ash they had. The mill -- based in conference-rival Laona's home turf -- gave him enough to fill a 16-foot trailer for free.

"There's irony in that statement, but it's anything we can do to get [games] in, we're doing it right now," Jaeger said.

Newswatch 12 reached out to Nicolet Hardwoods for more information about the ash donation Friday, but no one was available to go on camera.

"We feel it is a nice gesture to help out local schools in our district when possible," Nicolet's Fred Chitko said in a texted statement.

The unique melting method just might help the Cardinals get out of the gym and onto the field next week.

"I should've patented this idea before I started doing this, you know, I could start a side job melting people's snow," Jaeger said.

For now, Jaeger is just happy his day job will finally see some action where his athletes are supposed to be. Crandon baseball will get in their first game of the season Tuesday in Wisconsin Dells, but Jaeger is hopeful to host its first home games Thursday or Friday of next week.

Story By: Lane Kimble

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