Stuck in time: the gift that keeps on taking

One of Oklahoma City's Centennial Clocks. (KOKH)

They were monuments to mark the passing of time, while looking towards the future. Taxpayers footed the bill which ended up being hundreds of thousands of dollars only to find out now they're paying even more or risk the timely monuments turning into very public eyesores.

"Everywhere we go we try to see if they would like to have a Centennial Clock,” then Centennial Director Blake Wade told cameras in 2007 at an unveiling of the Centennial Clock outside what was then the Ford Center, now Chesapeake Energy Arena. “And these clocks are going to be everywhere around the state we are putting in one hundred,” Wade said.

A clock in every community, at least one hundred of them, installed in every county in Oklahoma. Most of the Centennial Clocks were paid for by grants from the Centennial Commission. They cost $20,000 each. Many more were purchased by private businesses or neighborhoods.

More than a decade later, many of the clocks have stopped working altogether. In Oklahoma City, a clock near 36th and Shartel has hands frozen in time on three of its faces, the face on the south side of the clock lacks hands altogether. In Luther, the clock is hours out of sync with the rest of the world.

In our calls around the state we found a number of clocks that haven't worked in years.

So what's the key to keeping time instead of losing it?

“We assumed possession of four of them a couple of years later,” said Matt Tudor with Oklahoma City General Services. He is responsible for upkeep of the city’s four clocks.

“It does take a little bit of diligence,” Tudor says of keeping the clocks running and looking good. When the city got the clocks there was no manual, so when time stood still and the clocks started breaking down he tracked down the company that made them.

“We had to have [one clock] rebuilt and then we started doing preventative maintenance yearly and then had to have all four of them partially or completely rebuilt as far as the mechanisms inside the clock,” Tudor told FOX 25.

Rebuilding a clock costs more than $5,000 and to avoid having to resort to the one-time cost of rebuilding a clock the city pays for annual maintenance by the clock makers. Because the city can have four clocks serviced at once, it only costs about $600 a year, plus the cost of any additional parts if repairs are needed.

“They are sitting in the weather 24 hours a day seven days a week, all kinds of weather, just like anything outside they can go bad,” Tudor said. He routinely takes calls from other cities or neighborhoods who find themselves scratching their heads as to what to do with their broken clock.

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