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Local

County looks to restore courthouse clock tower

The Jasper County Supervisors on Tuesday looked at options to repair or replace the clock tower in the courthouse.

The board approved an agreement with the City of Newton to use the city as a pass through agent for a state grant opportunity, although the city has no responsibility for the project.

The clock tower is a historical feature in the courthouse dating back more than a century to approximately 1910. The county has several options for the restoration process from installing a modern system to a complete restoration of the clock, dial and all associated parts of the tower.

Prices also varied depending on the work with the cheapest option being the modern system at approximately $20,000. That proposal has the installation of a 110 volt master clock controller, a 110 volt self-starting extreme duty four-way stainless steel master clock controller and new white hands in the style of the board’s choice.

The modern option would not be historically accurate to the building but would be the quickest and least expensive.

The second option of doing a complete restoration of the clock tower to bring it back to historical museum grade could cost between $100,000 to $125,000, depending on grant funds and how the board chooses to proceed with the project. The restoration includes, in part, removal and re-installation of the clock and hand assemblies, restoration of factory finish to all wheels, arbors and pinions dial panels with a coat of microcrystalline wax applied for rust protection, replacing any missing pieces, restoring the original four way differential, replace glass dial panels with UV protected sign quality colycarbontate and refinished and recoat existing cast iron dial frames.

Jasper County Maintenance Director Adam Sparks said other counties throughout the state have done a similar process but broke it into phases instead of completing it all at once. While that is an option, Sparks would prefer to undergo the project as a whole instead of piecing it out.

“When I look at it, I am trying to do it all one whole project, not split it up into two or three different times,” Sparks said. “What we are trying to do is get this clock back into historical grade.”

Sparks has been in contact with several clock restoration companies and received a quote from Mechanical Watch Supply of Minneapolis, Minn. which was presented to the board. A second company plans to make a stop in the coming weeks to view the project and submit a proposal.

While the first modern option was left on the table, several county officials spoke of the previous historic restoration work done in the courthouse and the positive feedback they have received from the public.

“I have been in county government for a long time and have been to a lot of courthouses and have seen supervisors fix things on the cheap, and it has ruined their courthouse,” auditor Dennis Parrot said. “The public hasn’t liked it, and people that come along in later years wish it had been done different. The county courthouse is the largest asset the county has, it is the most prestigious the county has. This is one of those things the money needs to be spent on, in my opinion.”

A final proposal for clock tower will go before the board at a later meeting.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com

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