High school's iconic clock tower timepiece back in business

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Paul Dumont relaxes in his fixup shop at his Gonic home. Dumont was instrumental in fixing the timepiece in the iconic Spaulding High clock tower. (Courtesy photos)

ROCHESTER - The timepiece ensconced in Spaulding High School's iconic clock is once again keeping students on time for class.

It had been off since this summer following the completion of sprinkler work.

Once Facilities Director David Totty noticed, he worked to install a digital timer that would keep accurate time to within one-1,000th of a second. But it didn't work, and so Totty, in a moment of desperation, called the number written on the side of the clock tower's failed timing mechanism.

Paul Dumont - a retired county commissioner and Gonic resident who installed the homemade system nearly 20 years ago - answered.

"You should have seen him light up when I started talking to him about the clock," Totty said as he recalled their discussion about the clock tower that first came to life when Spaulding High opened in 1939.

Dumont, who worked with the class of 1999 to restore the clock after it had been frozen for approximately a dozen years, returned to the high school and got to work on an updated timing mechanism that could do what Totty's digital timer could not - appropriately distribute power to the clock, giving its hands the power they needed to circle the 78-year-old dial.

"I enjoyed working on it, and I enjoyed it for a simple reason," said Dumont, who continues to tinker with and fix items in an alcove in his home. "It's a great clock. It's old, but it's a very well designed clock."

The tower, which Totty said is believed to be one of only two like it in existence, came back to life last last month after Dumont completed his work. He also left behind a detailed set of instructions that will allow future generations to maintain the clock tower and help it maintain its place as a source of pride for the city.

"The first time I climbed up in that tower I fell in love with the clock," Totty said. "As the director of facilities, I'm very proud of it and I'm happy to see it running again."

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