County receives preliminary approval for clock tower grant funding

bbashioum@demo-mo.comFebruary 7, 2014 

County officials have been given the thumbs up for preliminary approval on a grant to help fund the process of making the Cass County Courthouse clock tick once again.

The clock hasn’t been keeping time for about five years.

Cox informed the Commission that the county has been awarded $73,780 for the project, pending final approval from the Department of Natural Resources, during a meeting Jan. 30.

“This preliminary approval for funding brings us a big step closer toward making this project happen,” Presiding Commissioner Jeff Cox said. “The historic courthouse tower clock serves as a symbol that goes to the very heart of our history and identity as a county.”

The source of the funding is a 70-30 percent matching Missouri Heritage Properties grant from the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office, a division of the DNR.

The organization awards about $1 million annually statewide. The maximum awarded per project is $100,000.

If given final approval, the grant will allow the county to restore the clock to factory condition with weight pendulum operated movement. Funding will also allow the county to restore the clock’s wooden dials.

Clock enthusiast and Cass County Historical Society Board of Directors second vice president Larry Boucher has helped drive the bus in getting the county to look at restoring the clock by helping bring in New York Essence of Time clock restorer Chuck Roeser to examine the 1909 Seth Thomas Model No. 16 clock in late May.

During his visit, Roeser told the county that the clock was in need of total restoration.

As owner of Larry’s Clock Repair in Peculiar, Boucher has worked with the county on the grant application in addition to providing $1,050 worth of research and planning in the form of an in-kind donation toward the project.

“While this special interest in clocks plays a part in my desire to see our historic tower clock restored to its original beauty and function, my concern goes farther to the pride and satisfaction of seeing our restored tower clock for the citizens of our county,” said Boucher, in a letter of support in the county’s grant application.

“I believe our historic tower clock is a valuable resource to our state of Missouri and just as wonderful as the natural resources we possess and protect in our great state.”

Since the total project is estimated to cost $106,450, the county would be on the hook for the remaining 30 percent of the project, which will amount to about $31,620 in cash, along with Boucher’s donation, for a total for $32,670 of local share in the project.

Cox is speculative that enough funds to pick up the remainder of the county’s tab will be available through the county’s Courthouse Restoration Fund to cover their share of the project.

“I believe that restoring the clock to its historical operating condition is a worthwhile endeavor that all Cass Countians can take pride in,” Cox added.

The next step in the grant process will be up to the county and the DNR to work out the details of a grant agreement.

According to the letter sent to Cox, a DNR representatives will meet with county officials within a few weeks to review the grant application, discuss financial information submitted, including the proposed grant agreement.

The proposed grant agreement will also include a list of budget and project milestones that the county will be asked to meet.

Once completed, the agreement will then be submitted to the DNR for final approval and the disbursement of funds. If given final approval, all project work carried out under the grant must be completed by April 30, 2015, and all expenditures must be submitted to the state within 60 days of the project’s completion deadline.

The clock has been on the courthouse for almost 105 years. In the early 1900s, a group of 18 women spearheaded a movement to put a working clock in the courthouse clock tower. At that time, the courthouse was only a decade old, but there was no working clock in the clock tower.

The women formed the “Harrisonville Town Clock Club” on May 11, 1908 with the purpose of raising funds to purchase a clock.

The club raised enough money to purchase the Seth Thomas clock one year later. Installation of the clock was complete June 10, 1909.

“I want to thank the ladies who stepped up and put this thing together so we could get the clock in 1909,” Boucher said. “They’re really the ones who saw the need for the clock. If we hadn’t had them, we wouldn’t have anything to restore today.”

Boucher said he was also appreciative of the Commission and of the community for taking on the restoration project over the past year.

“I think the courthouse in Cass County needs to be our crown jewel that we’re proud of,” he said. “We need to keep it alive and working.”

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