Fate uncertain for replica clock that can't be fixed

John Curry/Staff
Several attempts have been made to fix a clock that stands in the median of the 900 block of Broad Street. The insurance adjuster says it is a loss.

The tall black clock that stands between Ninth and 10th streets is officially dead.

Margaret Woodard, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, said the four-faced clock has been broken for the past six months.

Multiple attempts to fix it have failed and an insurance adjuster has declared it a loss, Woodard said Friday.

The clock is a replica of the original that stood outside the Georgia Railroad Bank and Trust building on the 1100 block of Broad Street. The original has been inside the Augusta Mall since the 1970s.

Woodard said the clock was sensitive to vibrations and frequently lost time as trucks rumbled down Broad Street. For a while it adjusted itself for the daylight saving time change, then it stopped doing that, too.

After daylight saving time was extended in 2007, Woodard or someone else would manually change the clock.

"There were all sorts of challenges," Woodard said.

Woodard had just learned Friday that the clock was officially busted, so she wasn't sure what plans, if any, would be made to replace it.

Other clocks in the area automatically adjust for the time change, too.

The clock atop North Augusta's government building, just across the 13th Street Bridge, is atomic and synchronized by radio waves with the U.S. government's atomic clock in Boulder, Colo.

In fact, there is no access to the clock tower from inside the building. A contracted company clambers up the building every six months to change the flags on top of the building, but the clock is inaccessible.

Any repairs would be "a major undertaking," said Tom Zeaser, the city's director of engineering and public works.

The clock in front of the Marriott Hotel & Suites has a curious history. Rick Acree, the assistant director of public service in Augusta, said someone lost the key to the face of that clock a decade ago. Instead of tampering and possibly damaging it, public works decided to turn off the clock for an hour in the fall and 23 hours in the spring to let the time catch up, Acree said.

In 2005, President George W. Bush signed a law that extended daylight saving time. Beginning in 2007, clocks rolled forward an hour on the second Sunday in March and rolled back the first Sunday in November.

Apparently, old habits die hard. The clock in the Richmond County Board of Education meeting room has been an hour behind for a week.

Spokesman Lou Svehla said the clock is manually set so it's likely a night shift janitor took the initiative. "Someone jumped the gun," he said.

Fall Back

Daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, so be sure to set your clocks back one hour before you go to bed.