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Repairs in the works for courthouse clock tower

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK The clock tower at the Belmont County Courthouse in St. Clairsville has deteriorated, but repairs and upgrades are scheduled.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Belmont County Courthouse clock tower will be getting an upgrade in the coming weeks since the clock has ceased keeping time.

Delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic mean the Belmont County commissioners cannot speculate on a timeline for the project.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Richard Hord of Martins Ferry asked about progress on repairs to the clock tower. Commissioner J.P. Dutton said the project is extensive.

“We had a couple companies come in over the past few weeks. There’s only a few companies across the state that could do this kind of work,” he said.

In the April 28 meeting, the commissioners approved a quote from Chime Master Systems for $8,500 for repairs and upgrades on the courthouse clock tower. The Verdin Co. had provided an estimate of $13,940.

“It went out about four to six weeks ago and obviously we immediately contacted some company to get a look at it,” Dutton said. “They did a site visit and then they did estimates. … This all happened fairly quickly.”

Dutton did not know the exact age of the mechanism but said the clock has run well during its long history.

“The last time there was major work done to the clock other than just resetting it was 1973,” he said. “Prior to that, there had been some work done to it in the 1950s. … It’s been about 50 years or so, so it’s long overdue to that extent, but it’s been working great. …

“What they’re basically doing is replacing the makeup of the clock. It’s going to have a new central clock drive,” Dutton said, adding the drive will be made in America. “There’ll be a new solid state programmable clock, also made in the USA.”

He said the upgraded clock will have several new features.

“It’ll auto correct, spring forward and fall back, (adjust for) power outages, those type of things. It’ll self-correct. It’ll have a GPS time antenna that sets to the National Bureau of Standards time,” Dutton said.

However, the company has run into a delay in starting.

“Chime Master is basically waiting for the drive. They don’t have an estimate right now when it will arrive. They plan to begin work when the drive is received,” Dutton said.

“Obviously you don’t know how the pandemic impacts manufacturing times … and shipping,” he said. “We hope this will be good for a while after this.”

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