Community bands together to save Senoia’s grand old clock

by Lynn Horton

This past week many have been following a fast-paced story out of Senoia. It is the story of a beautiful old clock that stands on the corner of Main and Seavy Streets and has had those who follow social media entranced for days now. The stately timepiece has garnered much attention and has been the cause of a very successful GoFundMe campaign, raising not only a considerable amount towards the costly repairs needed, but raising awareness of its origin as well.

Many Senoia residents admit that they did not even know that the beautiful chimes that routinely rang throughout town came from the tall Victorian era clock, or that the clock originally came from a bank in Mississippi and was badly damaged during Hurricane Katrina’s’ assault on the coast. Many have expressed confusion over just who the clock belongs to: the city, the owner of one of the charming shops along Main Street, or A Better Way Ministries, which is the name on its face.

Visitors who rest on the colorful adirondack chairs, property of popular local gift shop Table Talk, sit in the shadow of The Clock. While finishing their ice creams or sharing stories of the walking tour many have just completed, they were often given the very pleasant surprise of a concert of chimes. Every hour and on the half hour. Lovely. Until a couple of years ago, when this now-famous icon suffered laryngitis!

Dave Buck, a local resident, with the permission of his friend Chuck White, told the story of how and why the beautiful old iron lady found her way to this busy corner on Main. Chuck had been volunteering with A Better Way when his company, White’s Clock and Carillon, got the call to save the clock after its damage by Hurricane Katrina. Finding it necessary to replace the clock, White brought the battered one home to Sharpsburg, hoping to give it a new life again.

Chuck’s work with A Better Way had resulted in a friendship with a fellow named Tony Ingram. The late, much loved and much admired Ingram had quite a story from his days in the music business and used those past experiences to help found A Better Way. Many in the community knew Tony as a fine musician and a gifted paint and body man, just the guy to call when it came to repairing broken things. White gave the crushed bones of the clock to Tony, who lovingly restored it to like-new condition. Meanwhile, Chuck White repaired the inner workings. Then, when Chuck’s nephew ended up in jail and needed a life change, A Better Way and Ingram were there. They were instrumental in saving the boy’s life, according to the testimony of his Uncle Chuck. The young Justin McVie found a place in the ministry’s program, thanks to A Better Way’s founder, John Barrow.

When the clock was fixed, her ironwork restored and the chimes once again were singing proudly, thanks to White’s company, Chuck offered the clock to Barrow and the ministry as a token of his appreciation for the transformative work in his nephew, as well as other young lives he had seen changed.

Barrow was at the time remodeling buildings on Senoia’s Main Street and, with the help of young men in the ministry’s program, including McVie, the clock was installed at the corner of Main and Seavy Streets, right in the heart of downtown Senoia. White took responsibility for its future upkeep, at no charge to the City. When the giant timepiece was placed in its present location, there was a stipulation: the name of A Better Way Ministries would always remain above the newly painted face. Just where Tony Ingram had put it.

Back to the present. The pressing need to get the clock and chimes fixed led Dave Buck and Jim Preece, one of the owners of Table Talk, to organize the successful money-raising venture through the popular site GoFundMe. Within sixteen days, 44 citizens, 12 local businesses, some visitors, and a lady in California who learned of the efforts stepped forward in rapid succession. Soon the $11,000 goal seemed within reach. Then an unexpected and wonderful thing happened in this recently reawakened village. The City of Senoia offered to match the funds raised, dollar for dollar, up to $5,000 total. This meant that only $6,000 of the $11,000 had to be raised by the citizens.

The City Council required that the City become the official owner of the clock. Once again the question of ownership seemed an issue, but at last week’s Council meeting, John Barrow relinquished any rights, and White agreed to continue to service the clock. Her daily needs and her new, state-of-the-art “Apollo III” chimes would be managed from a chime system, installed in the TableTalk building, complete with internet connectivity.

End of Story. Happy Ending. Well, not quite. It had been decided early on that any monies raised above the $11,000 actually needed would be divided between two local charities.  Now, Buck is suggesting that this giving community continue their donations until the end of September and any bounty will be shared by Backpack Buddies of Ga. and A Brighter Day, two local charities. Sounds good.

Check out www.GoFundMe.com/senoiaclock  for more information, if you want to read more of this story, or if you care to participate in helping provide for local children.

Well done, Senoia.

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