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Group Works to Restore Historic Benton County Courthouse Clock

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VINTON, Iowa - Some people who live in Benton County want to turn back the hands of time.

They're in the early phases of a project to fix up the clock that was installed at the top of the Benton County Courthouse in 1906. It worked for nearly a century, but it's been sitting in disrepair for years.

It is several stories off the ground, up some old stairs and through a small trap door. Behind the scene, you'll find the gears and wheels are no longer working.

"It's part of history; it's part of the courthouse history," said Benton County Supervisor Terry Hertle.

It's as if time is standing still, and an old oil can and dated instructions sitting right next to the clock just aren't enough to make it work.

"I just think that it needs to be restored, why not?" Supervisor Hertle said.

Supervisor Hertle is launching a project to get it working again. He recruited the Benton County Historical Preservation Commission and some long-time Vinton residents to help get the job done.

It's been so long that it's hard to pinpoint exactly how long it's been silent.

"I'd say, I think, the clock hasn't worked for about ten to fifteen years," Supervisor Hertle said.

"It's somewhere between five and ten years," said Roger Albert.

So, it's fair to say it's been a while, and the bell has been silent for even longer.

Roger Albert was born in Vinton. He has fond memories of the clock.

"I'd drive with my car down 4th Street here and stop at the stop sign, and I would look up at the clock and see what time it was and I'd look at my clock and see if they were the same," Albert said.

For him, why he wants the clock to work is simple.

"I guess I'm just getting older that's all, and I like the tone of the clock that was up there," Albert said.

The group is just starting this project. The historical commission will apply for a grant in April to help pay for the restoration project. If they receive that money, it'll pay for a majority of the $50,000 project. They hope to fund raise for the rest.

"It has to have all the t's crossed and the i's dotted correctly to get it through," said Benton County Historical Preservation Commission's Peggy Schott.

The group hopes to restore this clock to its original condition within the next two years. Project leaders said it was time for all of Vinton to enjoy the piece of history.