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Tornado Anniversary: Clock Tower Found

Originally published by The Leaf Chronicle (2/5/99)

A Jan. 22 tornado licking hasnt stopped Austin Peay State Universitys clock tower from ticking, even though parts of it were ripped off and smashed.

School officials say, miraculously, the inner workings of the 49 year-old clock and carillon – still working – remain on to of the Browning Building despite the devastation.

Employees spent Thursday picking up several pieces of the dome surrounding the clock, and storing them for reference and safekeeping.
Originally published by The Leaf Chronicle (2/5/99)

A Jan. 22 tornado licking hasn't stopped Austin Peay State University's clock tower from ticking, even though parts of it were ripped off and smashed.

School officials say, miraculously, the inner workings of the 49 year-old clock and carillon — still working — remain on to of the Browning Building despite the devastation.

Employees spent Thursday picking up several pieces of the dome surrounding the clock, and storing them for reference and safekeeping.

Grounds workers first found a 150-pound clock tower pole, made of solid brass, and the dome's top in a grassy area in front of Harned Hall.

APSU senior Kalechia Murray fondly recalls when the clock was transformed into a huge Mickey Mouse watch by some pranksters in the fall of 1997.

She said the school is just not the same without the chimes, however. “Every morning on the way to calls you could hear them. Now all you hear is a lot of construction and machines,” Murray said. “I'm just waiting for everything to be back to normal.”

Masoom Ali, assistant director for the APSU physical plant, said the school will rebuild the dome to its original appearance.

The university's main priority is to secure all the buildings from rain and further water damage. Four buildings sustained heavy damage in the tornado; 18 others suffered some damage. A total damages estimate is expected today.
Restoring the clock tower is an important part of the restructuring plan, he added.

The chimes, replaced in 1974 for $4,590, are among the oldest chimes in Clarksville. The tapeless system has no moving parts and is considered among the last of its kind. A digital system would cost about $10,000 to replace.
Dennie Burke, APSU public relations director, was pleased to learn that the tower bells would soon toll again.

“I really missed the chimes and I had a student writer do some research and we found out that the chimes still worked,” Burke said.