- Associated Press - Monday, July 13, 2015

GREENWOOD, Ark. (AP) - The clock on Greenwood’s town square that has been frozen at 3:16 for years will again mark the passage of time by the end of the year, the city’s parks director said.

The Greenwood City Council has passed a resolution to appropriate $36,000 from the general fund to repair and upgrade the clock tower that was built 39 years ago as a memorial to people killed in a tornado that struck the town at 3:16 p.m. April 19, 1968.

The appropriation will be added to about $23,500 that the city’s parks department has budgeted to make the tower structurally sound and get the clock in working order, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1HgeKQv ).

“It says a lot for the council to appropriate money for something like this in the middle of town,” Mayor Doug Kinslow said after the council passed the resolution.

Parks Director Richard McKinney proposed to aldermen that the city buy new digital clockworks from clock maker The Verdin Co. of Cincinnati for $13,545 to replace those in the century-old metal clock that was atop the county courthouse on the square when the tornado destroyed the building.

The metal clock from that courthouse was salvaged and installed in the clock tower that was built in 1976.

The city can save money by having its workers install the new clockworks under the supervision of the Verdin Co., he said.

McKinney said he also wants to install lighting in the tower to illuminate the four-sided clock’s faces.

Inspections have shown that the concrete tower has developed cracks and deteriorated over time, and is in danger of collapsing, McKinney told the officials.

“Our options are to fix it or tear it down,” Alderman Lee Johnson said Monday.

The clock tower is the main feature in Greenwood’s logo. There is a drawing of the clock tower ringed by a large G with the slogan “Greenwood A Great Place to Live” surrounding it.

McKinney said Steve Beam Construction of Fort Smith can stabilize the structure by injecting epoxy into its cracks and weak spots. The stabilization will cost nearly $20,000, he said.

The other part of the project is installing tubular steel to replace the rotted wooden beams that hold up the 450-pound bell and striker, stripping off the paint to expose the bell’s bronze color and installing a new striker.

The old striker will be sanded and put back in place for appearance’s sake, he said.

Replacing the beams and restoring the bell are estimated to cost $17,000, McKinney said.

The old clockworks salvaged from the 1916 courthouse could be preserved and put on display somewhere, he said.

Alderman Rod Powell said the precarious condition of the tower could be a liability risk for the city.

The center of the town square now gets more visitors than it has in the past. Two years ago, it was converted into the Veterans Memorial Square and Patriots Walk, which features 750 plaques etched with the names of veterans whose families have purchased the stones for it.

McKinney said some project money would be left over to cover the undetermined cost of adding a roof to the tower. He said the Greenwood schools’ shop teacher has volunteered to build the roof as a class project if the city would pay for the materials.

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