JC community celebrates new clock and bell tower

Junction City community members celebrated the C.L. Hoover Opera House's new clock and bell tower's first chime after hitting the noon hour Tuesday.

It was a project that was several years in the works, but on Tuesday afternoon, Junction City community members gathered at the C.L. Hoover Opera House to hear the clock strike noon for the first time. 

Sheila and Joe Markley, co-directors of the opera house, led the festivities by thanking everyone for attending the celebration. 

“Approximately five years; a very long time,” Sheila said. “Once we had an article posted in the newspaper, we actually had a lady step up and say she knew a clock repair man.”

Joe recalled the offer she made to give the whole operation some legs.

“She said, ‘I’ll give you $7,000 if you can raise the rest,’” Joe said. 

The foundations responsible for helping the plan come together were recognized Tuesday. Foundations and individuals who played key roles in the project included Manhattan’s Dotty Blacker, The Hoover-Koken Foundation, the Bramlage R2B4 Foundation and Barby Craft and Karen Salyers, who are friends of the opera house.

The guru behind the clock tower’s restoration was David Seay, Sheila said. 

“He goes all over the state, out of the country to do clock towers, and he lives in Manhattan,” Sheila said. “He is in the history of the opera house; he had maintained the clock at a point for a period of time.”

As the clock quickly approached noon, opera house visitors gathered outside to hear the bell ring. A countdown began as the clock neared noon, and everyone cheered once the hour fell. 

Sheila talked about the adjustments made that went into fixing the clock. 

“First of all, as far as the clock is concerned, it looks the same,” she said. “But, there was rot in the wood. It was cleaned, repainted and everything inside is completely state of the art. It will reset itself, atomic time or whatever.”

The 2,500-pound bell and clock tower was described by Joe as having perfect lighting that will gleam until 11 p.m. every night.

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