For 21 years a group of local residents have worked to restore a clock tower atop the Montgomery County Courthouse. On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Council agreed to find the remaining money needed to complete the project.
County commissioners were seeking assurance from the council that, when it was time to pay for the clock tower and its installation, that the council would pay any balance due. Currently, the Clocktower Committee has raised nearly 85 percent of the total amount needed.
During the council’s discussion it became evident there was not enough support to spend county taxpayer money on the project if there was a balance due in approximately nine months. After a lengthy discussion that included council members, commissioners and residents, councilman Don Mills made a motion to fund the unknown balance with a grant request to the Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Commission.
The CVC controls funds paid by visitors in the form of an innkeepers tax. If the grant is turned down at the CVC level, the council will then see if funds are available from the county’s Riverboat fund. Thi is money distributed by the state and comes from Indiana’s casinos.
If there is still a balance owed for the clocktower, commissioners promised to find the money within their budget, which would mean tax payer dollars could be used.
Mills’ motion passed with support from Greg Morrison, Mark Smith and Richard Chastain.
Clock Tower Committee member Sandy Lofland-Brown has spearheaded the effort to get the clock tower rebuilt. Although upset with some of the comments from council members during the discussion, she was relieved with the final decision and promised to continue to raise funds from the private sector to complete the project.
“This has been a fight,” Brown said. “I will continue to raise funds. Hopefully, we will not have to use the funds approved today, so we need people to open their billfolds since they now have assurance the project is going to happen.”
The total cost of the project is $540,600. As of Tuesday, the amount to yet be raised is $79,621.33.
The project has been approved by the Indiana Historical Society, which was mandatory since the courthouse is a historical building. Some on the council suggested building a modified clock tower that would equate to the money already raised. Brown said she firmly believed a modified version of the clock tower would not pass the Indiana Historical Society guidelines.
Commissioner Phil Bane said it will take six to eight months to construct the clock tower and up to two to three weeks to place it atop of the courthouse.
In the meantime, Brown will keep working to get all the money raised. In fact, as she left the commissioners chambers, she was waving a check someone had given her during the meeting.
“The balance has already come down,” Brown said.