EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


August 2, 2013

Editorial: Some cheers, some jeers for recent newsmakers

CHEERS to Charles E. Waites, who maintains Lawrence’s famous Ayer Mill clock.

Waites recently climbed up inside the clock tower, which rises 220 feet above the city, to get the giant timepiece working again. The July heat wave was enough to stop the clock.

Waites, 61, oiled the pulley holding the clock’s main drive cables and got it working again. That’s something he normally only does twice a year.

“No one likes a dead clock,” Waites told reporter Yadira Betances. “People want to know what time it is.”

Waites has been maintaining the clock for 22 years, working 10 hours a week. There’s a nearly $500,000 endowment for the tower’s maintenance and care under the jurisdiction of the Essex Community Foundation.

“This is a good old clock. As long as it gets a weekly maintenance, it will last forever,” Waites said .

The Ayer Mill clock is only 6 inches shorter than Big Ben in London. It was installed in 1910 by the E. Howard Company in Boston and features 15-foot pendulum powered by springs and gears, clockwork made out of brass and cast iron and 1,600 pounds of glass that holds the 12-foot-long hands.

The clock fell into disrepair in the 1950s but a community campaign raised $1 million to restore it in 1991.

Waites has been devoted to the keeping of the Ayer Mill clock for some time and, despite two recent heart operations, has no plans to retire.

We’re grateful for his dedication to maintaining this icon of Lawrence’s manufacturing history.

JEERS to thoughtless vandals in Haverhill, who threw a park bench dedicated to the memory of a young boy into Round Pond.

The granite bench was a memorial to 10-year-old Justin Thurlo, a former Pentucket Lake School student who was killed in 2000 in an accident in Kingston, N.H., where his family had moved a few months prior. The bench was found in the water, upside-down, with one leg broken off.

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