History: Neillsville Unveils Heritage Clock (2003)

Contact: Janet
Email: stan@wiclarkcountyhistory.org

From the "Clark Co. Press" July 16, 2003.

Unveiling of new Town Square clock recalls city's heritage

The unveiling of the new clock in downtown Neillsville's Town Square Park last Friday evening, it seemed, couldn't have had better timing.

The last of the threatening clouds retreated from the skies over Neillsville, just as a growing crowd gathered in anticipation of the event that was to be one of the many bright occasions of an annual Heritage Days celebration full of highlights.

With the clock face covered until the moment of the unveiling, Pat Lacey, director of the 1897 Jail Museum and one of those leading the effort to make the clock a reality, in her opening remarks set the tone of history and community. The clock will be a fitting addition to the historic downtown business district with its facade reflecting the architecture of the 19th century, she said.

Standing at the entrance of the traditionally-styled gazebo and invoking the names of prominent figures from the city's past, Lacey said they all would have undoubtedly approved. Among others, she said, "Mr. Gates, Mr. Hewett and Mir. Dewhurst would have liked the clock."

"This project has been truly a community effort," Lacey went on to say as she recalled the four-year endeavor to raise the $13,000 that the clock would end up costing. It started with the $1,200 from the proceeds of the 1999 Christmas Tour of Homes in Neillsville, sponsored by the Jail Museum and Tuft's Museum.

The Neillsville Improvement Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce, civic and service organizations, as well as individuals pitched in to help fund a clock account that was set up at the Citizens State bank in Neillsville, Lacy told the audience.

The Listerman Foundation presented a $5,000 donation to the city, she said, and made the point of recalling Glenn Roberts, long-time owner of the Russell's Furniture and Hardware Store across the street, who passed away last year. He donated the land for the clock, said Lacey, and memories in his name have provided additional funding. . "Glenn would have liked to look out the window of Russell's at this clock," she said. Becky McKevitt, Roberts' daughter, came to the speaker's podium and confirmed that, yes, indeed, her father did enjoy looking out the window of the store. He looked out at the passing cars and trucks, but he would also look across the street, at the Sniteman Town Square, a city park of flowers, a gazebo and benches that, he thought, was still somehow lacking in completeness. McKevitt remembered the words of her father. "Dad used to say, 'You know what the Town's Square needs, it needs a clock, a nice clock," she said. "Well tonight, Dad's wishes have become a reality."

With other members of Roberts' family, including his widow, Metty, in the audience and listening, McKevitt concluded with a note to posterity. "This clock," she said, "will ensure that a little bit of Dad will remain on Main Street forever."

That closing remark brought enthusiastic applause, from those gathered around the gazebo, and it continued as Lacey presented the clock to Mayor Diane Murphy "on behalf of all the citizens of Neillsville."

A drum roll and clash of cymbals by Dr. Peter Chambers was the cue for Molly Brunette, the reigning Miss Neillsville, to pull the cord to unveil the clock.

Among the community members taking in the sights and sounds of the ceremony was Steve Mabie, who, while he happens to be president of Neillsville Common Council, was there in an unofficial capacity.

He said he marveled at the dedication of the community members who worked diligently so that the clock could become a reality. "They stuck to it and we're grateful for it," he said. Mabie said the clock will certainly complement Neillsville's historic downtown. "It's a wonderful addition," he said.



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