When did the revitalization of Pittston's downtown begin?
To be precise on Sunday, April 30, 2000 at 1:20 in the afternoon.
That was when the city unveiled the Millennium Clock at the corner of Main and Broad streets and then mayor Mike Lombardo called the clock "a symbol of the city's rebirth."
Last week the clock itself had a rebirth when representatives of the clock's manufacturers, Verdin Clock Company of Ohio, came to Pittston and refurbished it.
City street department head Sam Valenti arranged for the clock makers to use part of the city's garage where the clock was updated inside and out. Working around the clock – literally on both counts – the workers gave the clock face new glass panels and the body new paint, lettering and gold trim, completing the work in 48 hours.
The clock was fitted with a new master controller which is synchronized to the official time and will keep the clock ticking during a power interruption and automatically reset it for daylight savings time.
Lombardo said the clock needed a facelift. "It's been 12 years already. It's a high traffic area and it got nicked up."
The idea to have Verdin come to the city sprang from a chance meeting of Jim Zarra and Verdin representatives at a convention in Las Vegas.
The new controller is inside the clock. The older, much bulkier controller was located inside the adjacent Joyce Building.
Another update for the clock, which is coming soon, is a digital pad device that will allow the clock to play thousands of songs. As it is it has a 400-song capacity.
The update was paid for by the City Redevelopment Authority and the Tomato Festival Committee.
Coincidentally the restoration of the clock comes 100 years after the Miners Savings Bank pedestal clock was erected on the same corner in 1912. The bank clock stood until 1956 when it was dismantled and scrapped at the Al Miller junkyard and replaced by a modern hanging clock on the bank building.
The Millennium Clock was designed as a much larger homage to the Miners Bank clock which was five-feet high. The Millennium Clock is 17-feet-high.
The $30,000 original cost of the clock was funded as a community project. Names of those who donated more than $250 are inscribed on a plaque at the marble base of the clock. Names of those who donated at least $100 are inscribed on bricks surrounding the clock base.
The marble base was donated and constructed by Bob Pugliese.
More than 200 people attended the unveiling in 2000.