06/23/04 — Clock to be erected at college in memory of late mayor

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Clock to be erected at college in memory of late mayor

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on June 23, 2004 1:58 PM

Hal Plonk loved clocks and Wayne Community College. Now a clock at the college will help memorialize the long-time Goldsboro mayor.

The Goldsboro City Council voted Monday night to contribute $25,000 to the Foundation of Wayne Community College for the Hal Plonk Memorial Clock.

Plonk died in December 2001 from leukemia. He had been mayor for 22 years, the longest term ever for a Goldsboro mayor.

Artists rendition of WCC clock tower

van Bergen Company

This is an artist's rendition of the clock tower on the Wayne Community College campus.

The foundation plans to erect a clock post in the middle of the college campus. The clock would have four faces. It would also have a carillon, which is a series of bells, and a speaker system to allow the chiming to be heard better. Most likely, the bells would ring on the hour to signal class changes, said Ken Ritt, a college vice president.

The speakers would also be connected to an alarm system to relay warnings about such events as tornadoes, Ritt said.

Mayor Al King called the tribute to his friend "extremely fitting."

"Hal Plonk was a clock man. He collected and repaired them," King said Monday night. "He'd be very pleased to know that a clock was being dedicated in his honor."

Ritt also witnessed Plonk's interest in timepieces. "He had a small tool kit and could fix grandfather clocks," he said. "He helped me out a time or two."

Hal Plonk inherited his interest in both clocks and woodworking from his father, Carl Plonk, according to his son, Warren Plonk. Carl Plonk was a craftsman and antique dealer living in the Lincolnton area.

In a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon, Warren Plonk recalled several car trips in the late 1960s and early 1970s to his grandfather's house to pick up massive grandfather and grandmother clocks. Carl Plonk made the clock cabinets, which were typically six-seven feet tall, mainly out of walnut.

Hal Plonk would store the clocks at his home and sell them to people who admired them.

"It was my dad's way of being able to share his father's creations," Warren Plonk said. "A love of wood, an affinity for clocks -- I guess it's in our genes."

While working as a public school administrator, Hal Plonk helped to start the Goldsboro Industrial Education Center, which has evolved into Wayne Community College. He always had a soft spot for it, Warren Plonk said.

He remembered how excited his father was while attending a concert at the college in March 2001.

"He said, 'Did you ever believe that the program we started would grow into something like this?,'" Warren Plonk said, his voice cracking with emotion.

The Foundation needs to collect about $37,500 before the college will order the clock. It will be delivered and installed within a month of the order.

Tax-deductible contributions can be mailed to Foundation of Wayne Community College, P.O. Box 8002, Goldsboro, N.C. 27533-8002. They should be designated Plonk Memorial Clock.