The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

January 9, 2013

Volunteers repair historic city clocks

OTTUMWA — While many Ottumwans can tell the exact time with their watch — or a dozen different cell phone applications — there’s something special about a 100-year-old clock visible to the whole town.

A few area clock enthusiasts are visiting historic buildings, offering to get their old outdoor clocks running again.

“I worked on old clocks in my [spare time] at home,” said Ted “T.R.” Riley of Ottumwa. “But the first time I worked on a clock tower, I was in love.”

Riley has strong mechanical aptitude, he said. During his career in the U.S. Navy, he fixed whatever needed fixing. Now a disabled veteran, Riley runs his own computer business. But he still loves clocks.

He and another volunteer have been looking around Ottumwa for tower clocks. Most of the ones they see are broken. On Tuesday, Riley was at the Wapello County Historical Museum.

Staff went looking for him and his assistant, Tony Carnes. They found his ladder. They found the panel to the clock, which was open on the inside via a stairwell. And they could see the clock itself from the outside.

Eventually, they found the repairmen — on the roof. There were additional circuits up there that needed a jumpstart.

Riley himself got a jumpstart on Tuesday.

“Ouch! That was hot,” Riley said.

The power had been shut off to the clock. But with a clock that last functioned properly years ago, Riley said he anticipates surprises.

Fixing the old clocks is not always easy or quick, but it can be done, he said. The volunteers have the old clock on Ottumwa High School operating.

A woman at the bus and train station downstairs pointed out the high school, clearly visible through the big glass windows of the station.

She said it’s a beautiful old building, but that a broken clock seems to somehow detract from that beauty.

That problem is solved — at least for the time being. Those old clocks can be finicky.

“People have been up here before to work on this clock,” said Riley on the roof of the train station. “They said it couldn’t be fixed.”

When he hears that, he thinks one of three things. The first possibility he thinks of is that person didn’t really know what they were doing with that type of clock or they mean it can’t be done cost effectively. The third possibility is that the old clock really just can’t be fixed.

“And I don’t believe in that,” said Riley.

For Your Information

Those interested in repairing outdoor clocks may contact Riley at 641-799-4739.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • A change at Evans OTTUMWA — You can get kids to memorize facts. But teaching them to think can take more time. Educational leaders told the Ottumwa school board that the school year that begins 2014 will shift Evans Middle School students from 45-minute periods to 60-

    April 17, 2014

  • 0418 OTT Tree City U.S.A. logo Ottumwa awarded as Tree City U.S.A. again OTTUMWA — Having big, beautiful trees throughout a community can help spruce up a city and make it more attractive to visitors. Ottumwa has shown a dedication to making the community more green and inviting, and the efforts have been recognized by th

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Agriculture Day color photo 2 -T -L -M Cardinal students celebrate Ag Day ELDON — Sometimes the best way to learn is to get out of the classroom and come face-to-face with things that you might not see every day. Students at Cardinal Elementary School got that chance Thursday during Ag Day. Every year, the Cardinal FFA and

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418 OTT Five Things logo -T -L -M Five things to do in southeast Iowa this weekend OTTUMWA — It's a weekend of Easter celebrations, historic events and educational opportunities in southeast Iowa. Many people are gathered together this weekend, and the surrounding communities have scheduled events perfect for the whole family. 1. S

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Joe Tafta bw photo -L -T -M Pursuing opportunities OTTUMWA — Joe Tafta follows the rules. The Simpson College junior hopes to be a U.S. marshal one day, so he’s careful about what he says and does. But not always. On the afternoon of April 1, Tafta says, he nearly got booted out of Dunn Library for m

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Earth day color photo 1 -T -M Cargill celebrates Earth Day by educating ALBIA — In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, employees from Cargill Eddyville and Cargill Pork are visiting with students at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Center in Albia all this week. On Wednesday the Courier caught up with them as they went

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • 0417 OTT Saving Center color photo -T -L -M Hedrick building has friends HEDRICK — The community wants a civic center, and they've been willing to work for it. "I'd say we have 15 to 25 volunteers each time," Tommy Smith of Hedrick said. "These are all good people." Smith was volunteering his services at the Easter Brunch

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Southern Iowa farmers preparing for planting OTTUMWA — Even though the winter seemed to linger like Iowa was going through an ice age and cold and wet weather has highlighted the early spring, farmers are starting to get out to their fields to put down fertilizer and get fields ready for planti

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook
E-edition