Preservation time: Fiscal Court to preserve parts of old clock tower

Published 8:30 am Friday, November 24, 2017

While work on the Clark County Courthouse’s clock tower continues, the Clark County Fiscal Court took measures Wednesday to protect some pieces of the structure and sell others

The court unanimously approved an order of surplus for pieces of the structure that might be of monetary value, while other parts of the structure will be preserved and stored because of their historical or sentimental value.

The project will replace the deteriorating bell tower, which had structural issues and leaked into the courthouse when it rained.

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“We have a lot of old clock and bell tower scrap,” Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham told the court. “Some of that might be of value and other parts will be trashed.”

Branham said parts that might be of value, if sold, are the copper on the cupola, the electric motor in the clockworks and some of the salvageable timbers in the tower structures.

Other parts, like the four clock faces, the bell and salvageable bricks, will be preserved and stored at the Clark County Road Department for future use, Branham said.

He said his office has received many requests from people interested in having one of the bricks, and suggested the bricks that are good shape could be auctioned or sold to interested community members. Some of the bricks will be used in later phases of the project, but what can’t, will be saved, he said.

The court approved transferring four bricks to the City of Winchester, at Mayor Ed Burner’s request, at no cost.

Likewise, Branham said the clock faces could be cleaned and displayed in areas of the courthouse, the Bluegrass Heritage Museum or in the proposed welcome center at the old Sphar building.

Magistrate Robert Blanton has been working closely with crews from SSRG as they began removing the tower, clock and cupola from atop the courthouse in October. He said as the first phase of the project nears completion, decisions about what to do with the old structures are necessary.

“The next step is to deconstruct the tower and remove it from the site,” he said. “We need to decide what we want to keep so we can communicate that to the crews.”

Branham said he wants to get “something on the books” so the court remains in line with Kentucky statute about county assets.

The court unanimously approved the order to retain ownership of the clock faces, bricks, copper and “anything else deemed of value” moving forward.

The court also approved a change order for $4,550 for laser imaging that will determine if the wood used in the new tower matches what was removed.

Margie Jacobs, an architect with Tate Hill Jacobs Architects, said once the structure was on the ground, changes had to be made to the plan.

She said conversations she and Blanton had with the Bluegrass Heritage Commission left them hopeful the county could qualify for a $100,000 tax credit if the imaging was completed.

“It’s not a guarantee,” Blanton said. “But I feel fairly confident by doing this, we can qualify for that credit.”

Jacobs said the court had budgeted approximately $10,000 for an inspection that ended up costing around $2,500, and along with a healthy contingency fund, has the money to fund the change order.

The project is expected to cost around $772,000 and will be financed by a bond issue.

“There is room in the budget for it,” Jacobs said. “This is a tough project to know outright what the end cost would be without over-projecting.”

Branham said he anticipates crews will have the structures off-site by the end of the month, which would open Cleveland Avenue to traffic after approximately six weeks.

While a new tower is constructed off-site, a temporary roof will be installed. Weekend storms blew off the tarps in place until a temporary roof can be constructed, but the leaking was minimal and there was no permanent damage, Branham reported.

Jacobs said a two-ply modified bituminous roof would be installed by the end of the first phase.

“It’s going to be dry,” Branham said.

The new tower is expected to be installed in April.

In other business, the court:

— Approved a motion by Branham to hire ProLawn to install the county’s Christmas tree at the courthouse prior to the Christmas parade Dec. 2. He said a 32-foot tree was donated by Roy Freeman. ProLawn will remove the tree from Freeman’s property, trim it to approximately 22 feet and install it on the courthouse lawn facing Main Street. Branham said ProLawn installed the tree last year, but advised a telescopic lift, which would cost about $300, would be needed to make the job more efficient. A ProLawn representative confirmed the project could be completed for no more than $720.

— Approved an order reappointing Teddy Marcum to the East Clark County Water District board of directors.

— Approved an order hiring Alfred Harris as a full-time animal control officer at the Clark County Animal Shelter.

About Whitney Leggett

Whitney Leggett is managing editor of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. To contact her, email or call 859-759-0049.

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