All but one OK repair on clocktowers

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

With a 16-1 vote Marshall County's Commission on Monday rejected a suggestion to refrain from repairing Courthouse clocks until the recession is over.

Reasons stated by several commissioners after the meeting included the conclusion that it will cost more to repair them later and the time to do the work is when the roof is being fixed.

Commissioner Scottie Poarch suggested the amendment to a resolution to approve the first phase of Courthouse renovation and his amendment was seconded by Commissioner Jimmy Stitt so that, procedurally, the Commission could discuss the issue.

Poarch had suggested that the clocks that don't work could be set at a time that reflects a date in history such as 9-11 or Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 12:07. Last week he indicated that three of the clocks aren't keeping time.

While it might have seemed to some that the only clock working was the one facing South, an independent observation - substantiated by other commissioner's comments on Monday - the only clock that wasn't keeping time was the one facing North.

"The North side needs repair," Stitt said.

Clock repair, Poarch said, "is something we need to do, but we should hold off to do something more important."

Repair and maintenance costs were reviewed during the Commission's monthly meeting, attended by Nashville-based architect James Kennon and Billy Gatlin, project manager for D.F. Chase Construction Co., Nashville, the general contractor recommended by Kennon.

"I think we'd want to fix them now," Commissioner Mickey King, chairman of the budget committee, said. "The bid was $9,500. We allowed for $12,000" in the budget.

Kennon said a Florida company has been retained for several years to maintain the clocks, "to keep them running."

Now, the engineer said, that business recommends more serious repair to "take the mechanical system, the gears that run the clock, and refurbish them and put them back in."

Furthermore, the clock faces are rusting and rust stains can be seen on the stone below the facing, Kennon said.

Poarch interjected his concern by asking, "Which is more important: clocks and carpet, or mold?"

"Clocks," Commissioner Larry McKnight replied, "are like any other piece of equipment. If you don't maintain them, the won't work."

Commissioner Wilford "Spider" Wentzel agreed with Poarch about carpeting since he prefers tile floors for maintenance reasons, but Commissioner Mary Ann Neill asked, "Wouldn't it be more cost effective to do the outside and come in?"

Commissioner Seth Warf wanted a "timeline" for the work and Gatlin said the contract allows 80 days for Phase 1 of the building's restoration. Terms for weather delays are built into the contract.

Commissioner Rocky Bowden called for a conclusion on the question about amending the contract to refrain from repairing the clocks. Poarch cast the one vote for that, but voted for approval of the entire contract that is estimated at about $411,000.

The scope of work outlined by Kennon for the D.F. Chase Construction Co. contract has been reviewed by Don Nelson, director of the county's building codes and zoning office and several leaders expressed confidence in having him oversee the project on behalf of the county.