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By next year, the moon will rise over a restored and working Benton County Courthouse clock.
Some time in the near future, a clocksmith will arrive in Vinton to dismantle and remove the mechanisms of the Benton Courthouse clock to begin its restoration.
Instead of spending their summer raising funds, seeking more grants and donations, the members of the Courthouse Clock Restoration Task Force can spend their summer weeks saying thanks for the donations and telling local residents about the state funding that helped the group reach its goal.
Next week, the group will set up a hospitality tent at the Benton County Fair, and share information about the project with those who are interested.
On Wednesday, the group met with Pat Lyons, who presented two $5,000 checks to help cover the necessary local match for the project.
One check is from Ideal Industries; the other from the Lyons family in memory of Glenn 'Bud' Lyons, who was a courthouse custodian in the 1970s. Bud once took young Pat to the clock tower to let him climb the ladder that leads to the mechanism.
After receiving the checks from Lyons, the task force members watched at Roger Albert placed the last red panel on the sign to indicate the completion of the fund-raising portion of the project.
Benton County Attorney Dave Thompson, working with Vinton Unlimited as the official grant organization, wrote the grant application for the task force; he shared the following information about the project and its funding.
With great pleasure and pride we announce that we learned Vinton Unlimited, on behalf of the citizens of Benton County, was awarded a Historical Resource Development (HDRP) grant in the amount of $32,084.00 from the State Historical Society of Iowa (a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs). In order to receive the entire $32,084.00 in grant funds the Benton County Clock Restoration Task Force had to raise $16,042.00 in matching funds, which has been accomplished.
The award of this grant, which was fully funded, means that our historic Benton County Courthouse Tower Clock will run and its Bell will toll again in the near future.
At this time we would like to thank the The Iowa State Historical Society, Vinton Unlimited -- our grant sponsor and partner in this endeavor, all the individuals and businesses that have contributed to our fundraising efforts, our Courthouse Clock Restoration Task Force and the Benton County Historical Preservation Commission. In addition, we would like to specifically acknowledge the efforts of Benton County Supervisor Terry Hertle, whose tireless efforts to raise public awareness of the worth in restoring this piece of our past and the availability of HDRP and other grant opportunities have made this restoration possible. We would also like to acknowledge Scott Hansen, who will be donating his expertise, time and expense in polishing the Courthouse's bronze Bell, which will then be illuminated at night.
Some Benton County Courthouse Clock and Bell History and Facts: The Benton County Courthouse was constructed from 1905 through 1906. The Courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in October, 1976 as part of the County Courthouses in Iowa Thematic Resource, as nominated by the State Historic Preservation Program. Paul Correll, a prominent early Vinton leader, businessman and farmer donated the E. Howard #1 Striker Clock and Bell to the citizen's of Benton County at a cost to him of $2,000.00. To give you an idea of the value of Mr. Correll's generosity, the total cost of the Courthouse, including furniture was $122,999.27. The Bell is bronze, weighs 1500 lbs and was pitched in B Flat. The Clock and Bell reside in the Courthouse Tower, which rises 112 feet above the Courthouse's foundation. The Clock required manual winding once a week until the late 60's to early 70's, when it was electrified. Sometime in the early 1980's the Bell was silenced when its cabling was disconnected. The Clock stopped working all together sometime in 2008.
We are currently in communication with our Clocksmith and Historic Preservation Architect working on this project to coordinate our timeline for the complete restoration of our Clock and Bell. It is our expectation that the entire project will be completed by the Spring of 2015.
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