Somerset courthouse clock

Framed by the American flag, one of the four operating clocks at Somerset Courthouse is shown on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Somerset County Commissioners dedicated the clocks, which took several years to repair.

SOMERSET – The clock atop the Somerset County Courthouse dome was described on Wednesday as “a landmark to the optimism of our ancestors” and a symbol of the county’s “stronger and brighter future” during a ceremony marking the conclusion of repairs to the century-old timepiece.

During the ceremony, Commissioner John P. “Pat” Terlingo, who spearheaded a fundraising campaign through which $20,000 was donated for the repairs and for future maintenance, thanked county officials and other boosters of the project, as well as the county maintenance employees and other workers who performed the repairs.

He gave a special nod to the memory of the late Commissioner John P. Vatavuk, who made the very first donation to the repair fund shortly before he died of cancer in January.

Due to neglect, the clock had not functioned for several years before repairs were carried out over the summer by the Verdin Co., of Cincinnati. It dates back to 1906, almost to the construction of the current courthouse building itself, which is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Commissioner Pamela Tokar-Ickes, who was the director of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies’ Somerset County Community Funds when the fundraising campaign was launched in January, said that her former position put her in a good position to see how important the courthouse clock is to many Somerset County residents. (The foundation received donations for the project on the county’s behalf.)

“It was very apparent from the very first donations we received how important this particular project was to the residents of Somerset County,” she said. “There were many notes that accompanied those donations – notes that talked about the importance of the courthouse, notes that talked about the importance of the clock in our lives.”

G. Henry Cook, CEO and chairman of the board of Somerset Trust Co., delivered some remarks on the history of the county and its courthouse, including how Somerset beat out Berlin to become the county seat in 1795 and how the current courthouse was building shortly after the turn of the 20th century.

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.

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