VMI Employee Creates Brine Sprayer Saving Taxpayers Thousands

LEXINGTON, Va. Feb. 26, 2024 — According to Mid-Atlantic Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments, Rockbridge County receives an average of 17.4 inches of snow annually. The Department of Facilities Management at Virginia Military Institute is tasked with keeping all the roads on post clear of snow and ice and safe for driving.  

Eric A. Schwartz ’95 deputy director of the department, stated that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) uses brine sprayers prior to a snowfall, to reduce the adhesion of snow and ice to road surfaces, making it easier to plow the snow off the roads. Brining system for roadways in and around post

“We’ve been wanting to get a brine sprayer from VDOT, but they’ve been unable to provide. We’ve looked for used ones, but have been unhappy with our search results, so we decided to make our own,” he said.    

Enter Brandon Zollman, grounds supervisor at VMI, who has a creative mind, and is skilled in design and construction. As a teen in 2000, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout by designing, acquiring donated materials, and organizing volunteers to build a new cinder block press box at Brewbaker Field Sports Complex.

“Growing up playing sports at the complex, I noticed that the old plywood press box was dilapidated and unusable. Clearly there was a need for a new one,” shared Zollman. 

Filling a need and creating a viable solution is exactly what Zollman did when he learned VMI needed a brine sprayer.

“In December, I started thinking about how we could build our own at minimal cost to the Institute. We placed two 300-gallon water tanks on the back of a truck, connected PEX lines from the tanks to a water pump that joins to a tail-hitch assembly on the back of the truck, where the brine is sprayed out of eight nozzles. It works perfectly,” described Zollman. 

Brining system for roadways in and around postAccording to Larry Camper, chief of maintenance and operations, the brine sprayer Zollman built cost about $700 in materials, and only one hour to assemble. “The estimated cost of a new brine tank and sprayer is $5,000 to $7,000.” The brine solution is provided by VDOT at no cost to VMI, since the roads on post belong to the commonwealth.  

Camper considers Zollman a valuable employee.

“Brandon has only just started his second year with us, and already developed an athletic field plan, a mowing plan, and a landscaping plan,” said Camper.  

Schwartz agrees, “Brandon has made a substantial impact in many ways. I'm excited for the ingenuity and initiative from grounds shop!” 

When the weather turns warm, Zollman plans to use the sprayer to water and fertilize the grounds on post. 

Marianne Hause
Communications & Marketing


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