The Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen feels now is the time to look into options to replace the trio of clocks that adorn the small tower rising from the Erwin Town Hall building.
“The clocks, as you can tell driving by, do not keep the same time,” Town Recorder Randy Trivette said at Monday’s regular meeting of the board. “A lot of times they don’t even keep the right time, any time.”
This, Trivette said, has been a problem with the clocks since the town hall building was constructed in the 1990s. The town had a maintenance contract with SimplexGrinnell, and for a number of years, the company was able to keep the clocks operating “pretty good” and was able to correct problems in a timely manner, Trivette said.
However, over the past couple of months, a more severe issue than maintenance and synchronization has come to light with regard to the clocks — the motors on two of the clocks are no longer functional. Trivette said he was advised by representatives with SimplexGrinnell that the company would be unable to repair this and that the only place that may be able to rebuild the motors and synchronize them is located in New Hampshire. The estimated cost of the repairs would be $20,000 to $25,000 per motor, Trivette said.
“Obviously, with the past history of the clocks not keeping time even after we’ve had them fixed and they can’t stay synchronized, that’s an awful lot of money to have to spend to do that,” Trivette said.
Trivette said he had been working with Snyder Signs to have the company prepare signage to better identify Erwin’s town hall building. Now, he said, he has redirected the company to give its input on how the clock tower issue could be solved.
Snyder Signs has proposed making a mold that would be placed over the existing clocks. A raised bronze version of the Erwin town logo would then be placed on the three molds. This could be done while keeping the architectural integrity of the town hall building, Trivette said.
The proposed price of completing this is above the town’s public bidding limit, meaning the project would have to be put out to bidding. Still, Erwin Vice-Mayor Glenn Tilson and others on the board feel this option may be more inexpensive than having the clock motors rebuilt.
“Replacing that would probably be cheaper than getting the clocks fixed and this would be a permanent fixture instead of the clocks tearing up in the future,” Tilson said.
And Trivette said he is positive the clocks would malfunction in the future even if they are repaired.
“The clocks have been messed up for so many years now that we don’t even get complaints anymore,” he said. “Nobody sets their watch to them anymore.”
The board unanimously approved having Trivette explore this option. This would include Trivette advertising for bids using generic specifications. A bid opening would take place at a future board meeting, Trivette said.
Monday’s meeting also marked former Aldermen Gary Chandler’s return to the board. Last month, the board unanimously approved Chandler’s appointment to the board to fill the seat left vacant by the Feb. 20 resignation of Mark Lafever. Lafever resigned from the board after accepting a position with the town as its Public Works Director.
Chandler will fill the remainder of Lafever’s term, which expires in November 2014.
In other business, the board:
n Gave conditional approval to a request from Dustin Street to use public rights-of-way to film the Web television series “The Stranger.” Street’s request would include the use of public sidewalks in front of the Unicoi County Courthouse and limited areas of the Erwin Linear Trail for the shoot and was approved on the condition that the town sign off on the show’s insurance policy and other requirements. Street said shooting would take place on the first season of the series from late June to early August.
n In an Erwin Beverage Board meeting following the BMA meeting, the board approved a beer permit application from the Rite Aid located on North Main Avenue.