Courthouse clock to get facelift

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Jim Gilpin told Allen County commissioners Tuesday the Iola Rotary Club would lead a project to refurbish and outline provenance of the courthouse clock on Iola’s square. Iola Lions Club members, who have looked after the clock for years, will help with the self-funded project.
First will be touch up and repair, including painting, of the clock and its case, said Gilpin. Second stage will be a plaque detailing the clock’s history. The repairs and historical amplification will be done as part of Iola’s sesquicentennial celebration.

THE CLOCK originally had four faces. Atop the old courthouse at 124 feet above ground level, it was visible for miles around.
It was moved to its present site in 1959-60 by the Allen County Historical Society to save it when the old courthouse, build just after the turn of the century, was demolished following construction of today’s courthouse. The move, costing about $4,000, was paid for with private donations and historical society funds.
The clock was then electrified; before that it was wound once a week and held a nine-foot pendulum with a 75-pound ball on the end.
The clock was first installed in the old courthouse tower in 1905.
The original mechanism was so large it could not be carried up the stairs of the courthouse tower, but had to be raised with block and tackle on the outside of the building. Three nights after it began operating, the clock stopped and two of the four glass faces were cracked by explosions in downtown Iola.
Local prohibitionist Charles Melvin, who will be remembered in sesquicentennial activities July 4, set off hundreds of sticks of dynamite under and around saloons on West Street, a block off the courthouse square.
Despite significant damage, the clock was running eight hours later.

COMMISSIONERS accepted several bids for work at the courthouse.
K-K Electric, Chanute, will replace hallway lighting for $2,790 and replace lights in five offices for $5,280. Advanced Cabinet Systems, Iola, will replace counter tops in the Extension Service office for $1,071 .93. Home Detail, Iola, will replace ceiling tiles and lights in the Extension Service office for $7,500.
Glenda Creason told commissioners she had bids for refurbishing cabinets and new flooring in the Iola Senior Center.
The commissioners put off a decision until next week, when Creason will provide more information.
Bill King, director of Public Works, said Laforge & Budd workers were moving 4,000 to 5,000 cubic yards of dirt a day in efforts to complete preliminary work on a new landfill cell. The company has a second contract to install the cell’s impervious liner starting July 1.
“I think they may meet the July 1 deadline,” King said. “It’s going to be close.”
County crews are “playing a role, doing whatever we can to help out,” King said.
At their May 26 meeting King told commissioners he was eager to complete the new cell, which is expected to meet landfill needs for 10 years, because “we’re getting short of space.”