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The gift of time

clock, rotary, owatonna
Rotary dedicates centennial clock
Rick Bussler, Publisher
“This is an ideal spot with people visiting. It’s a highly traffic and visible area.”
-Lois Nelson, Rotary Secretary

For members of the Owatonna Rotary, it’s all about spreading the gift of time throughout the community.

The local Rotarians are celebrating a century of service with a large centennial clock on the grounds of the Steele County History Center in Owatonna next to the Veterans Memorial. The clock and a time capsule were officially dedicated June 27.

“It just seems to fit,” said Lois Nelson as she smiled and looked at the clock from a distance. Nelson is secretary of the Rotary and served on the committee to get the clock installed. “This is an ideal spot with people visiting. It’s a highly traffic and visible area.”

The Rotary raised $42,000 in donations and memorials for the project. While there were 54 contributors to the project, the major donors are engraved on the clock. The largest donation of $7,500 came from the Owatonna Foundation.

The clock is surrounded by four cement pillars to protect it from any vehicular accidents from the history center’s nearby parking lot and Austin Road. It features Roman numerals and LED lights to shine during the nighttime hours.

Nelson said the only maintenance involved is electrical for the LED lighting. The Rotary has provided the historical society with $1,000 for future maintenance.

Four Season’s Electric of Owatonna and Hodgeman Concrete donated their time for electrical and concrete work on the project.

The idea for a clock originated back in 1990, but soon fell by the wayside, according to Nelson. The concept resurfaced again about 2 ½ years ago when the rotary was trying to come up with ideas to commemorate its 100th anniversary. The club organized in 1921 and officially was chartered on April 1, 1922.

Rotary clocks, Nelson said, are found all over the world. She noted she saw her first Rotary clock while traveling in Fairbanks, Alaska.

After kicking around a few ideas about where the clock should be placed, the local Rotary approached the historical society last year about putting it on its grounds. History director Jennifer Thiele said she had a great discussion with her board about adding the clock.

“It has been a wonderful addition,” said Thiele. “The style is vintage and goes with our mission. This is a nice community space.”

As an added bonus, the historical society got a cement spot for a new locked mailbox located near the clock.

There are two Rotary clubs in Owatonna: Noon Rotary and Early Edition, which was formed in 1986. The noon club features 60 members with Todd Hale serving as the longest running member with 54 years.

Nelson said Rotary is a great organization focused on business connections and networking. “It’s really good friendships geared to young people in the community,” she said.

The Rotary honors students throughout the year. One of their largest projects is hosting a lunch for members of the National Honor Society. Rotarians also work with third graders by giving them journals and pens to improve “standards for journaling and English,” Nelson said.

Joining Nelson on the clock committee were Ann Miller, Glen Meger, John Connor and Lonna Lysne.

As Nelson reflects on the project, she came to one simple conclusion.

“It’s about time it’s done,” she said.

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