Just-fixed clocktower vandalized

By: Bruce Warren, Journal Staff Writer
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While most of Auburn slept Monday night, a dastardly joker was vandalizing the clocktower on Lincoln Way. The vandalism comes on the heels of a recent community-wide fundraising effort to fix the Downtown Auburn icon, which is now broken again. Sometime after midnight, two rubber-suction cupped darts were put on the clock face visible from Citizens Bank. The tower’s other three clocks were not damaged. When officer Michael Metzner with the Auburn Police Department first saw the darts, he figured numerous darts had to be fired from a toy gun in order to get them to stick and block the movement of the clock hands. “It’s from a little kid’s toy and it looks to have been from a pump-pressure gun,” Metzner said. But this may not be a joking matter for the perpetrator. Depending on the amount of damage to the clocktower, this joker could face some serious consequences for vandalizing public property, according to Lt. Scott Burns of the Auburn Police Department. “If the damage is more than $400, then the punishment could be state prison or county jail time not exceeding one year, or a fine of not more than $10,000,” Lt. Scott Burns said Tuesday. At least one local resident favors prosecution for the vandal. “I think that we should look for whoever did it and they should be prosecuted,” said Gina Adair. “People should be held responsible for their actions.” Ben Asgharzadeh, co-owner of the Golden Swann Jewelry and Collectibles, was at the clocktower when officer Metzner arrived at 9:15 a.m. After a city worker removed the darts, Asgharzadeh surmised the damage. “I know that one of the gears is sheared and the latch is broken on the gearbox,” Asgharzadeh said. “It will cost me $800 to $1,000 to repair the damage. Because they don’t sell the part, I would have to pay $2,500.” It took a bucket truck manned by maintenance worker Dean Stadler with the City of Auburn Public Works in order to get to the darts and remove them. After getting to the darts, Dean found they were attached with glue, which would indicate someone had to climb up there to attach them. While hanging over the edge of the bucket, it took Dean at least 10 minutes to remove two rubber-suction darts that were attached with some type of clear adhesive. “They were definitely glued on there,” Dean said. “I had to chisel them off with a screwdriver.” When Asgharzadeh discovered the darts had glue on them, he said that someone must have climbed up the tower and put one dart by the 12-hour position that actually stopped the hour hand. Another dart was stuck just past the 6-hour position, but did not stop the minute hand, which glided over the dart. “That’s not a kid that did that,” Asgharzadeh said. “That’s an adult. Somebody does not like the clocktower.” The darts were successfully removed, but there was damage inside the mechanism due to the hour hand being stopped. “The latch inside the gearbox was broken,” Asgharzadeh said. “They don’t make it anymore. I have to make one. It looks like it happened after midnight.” Asgharzadeh, who has spent numerous hours maintaining the clocks, was not angry and had an offer to whoever the joker is. “I want to tell whoever did it, if you want a toy clock to play with, I will buy one for you,” Asgharzadeh said. “Christmas is coming. I will tell Santa.” Even though Asgharzadeh was light hearted, local businesses and residents recently donated more than $13,000 to have the clocktower computer mechanism replaced. A repairman from the Verdin company in Cincinnati, Ohio traveled all the way to Auburn to install it. On a more serious note, Asgharzadeh pleaded that the clocktower be left alone in the future. “I beg that whoever did this to please leave the clock alone,” Asgharzadeh said. “This is part of the beauty of Downtown. I just hope the motor is not burned out.”