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Clock tower restoration at Bellaire High School still a work in progress

T-L Photo/J.D. LONG Bellaire High School’s clock tower, still surrounded by scaffolding, is nearing the end of its restoration, but the clock itself still needs work to make it run.

BELLAIRE — Work to restore the Bellaire High School clock tower is nearly finished.

Superintendent Derrick McAfee told the board of education last week that the project was “substantially complete.” He also said the district is closer to moving forward with a project at Nelson Field.

For the clock tower, McAfee said he took a walk up to the top of the tower recently and said it looks good. He said it was hard to see exactly how it looks from up top, but at a distance he was impressed by the work even though scaffolding still covers it.

“But driving down the road that thing is lit up, and man does it look gorgeous. It looks stunning,” McAfee said.

A few items still needed to be worked on, but he said the clock hands are now in place. There was some disappointing news, though, as Steve Deorger, sales representative for The Verdin Co. said last week that the mechanism in the clock that drives the clock handles is not working.

Deorger’s inspection of the clock last Thursday led to the discovery that some of the gears were working but others were not after attempting to turn the clock on.

“Some of the gearing worked and some of it’s not,” he said. “It’s not driving the hands.” Deorger said they are now in the process of producing a quote for the board to update the clock.

He said this may take another four to six months for the job to be complete but didn’t know if the scaffolding would remain in place that long.

Deorger said his company “electrified” the clock with work way back in 1952 by taking the weights off the clock and installing an electric motor to drive the gears.

“And we haven’t done anything with it since,” Deorger noted.

Verdin updated the bell section of the clock in 2012 with some modernizations that he was not a part of.

“But the clock that drove the hands was still original,” he said, speculating that the clock could be as old as 120 years or more. “This is a very old clock.”

The current clock hands, which are made of wood and are replicas of the originals. Deorger said he wouldn’t have recommended that and would have built the hands with something lighter, such as aluminum.

Also, McAfee announced plans to award the bid for demolishing the bleachers at Nelson Field.

“Our attorney has this right now. If they give us the green light, you guys are going to approve us to award that bid,” McAfee told the board.

He repeated the bid amount from the November meeting, which is $340,000, but added that it was around $150,000 “under budget.”

“That’s why we bid and that’s why we do the process,” he told the board adding, that once they get the green light to approve then the next step will be handing it over to the architects.

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