City cuts back on chimes

"Urged on by Port Orchard Mayor Jay Weatherill, city council members on Monday voted to pull the plug on the chimes at City Hall an hour earlier every day.On a trial basis, anyway.We should try to make life a little more pleasant for those who aren't adjusting well to the chimes, the mayor explained, noting that several elderly, convalescent residents living near City Hall require solid rest during the evening and morning. And then there are those folks, he said, who rise as early as 4 a.m. to catch ferries to Seattle. They need their sleep too, Weatherill said.(Cutting back the hours of the chimes) doesn't punish those who enjoy the current schedule, Weatherill said.In addition to cutting back the broadcast schedule, city council members also decided to investigate whether they can lower the volume of the chimes, reposition the speakers at City Hall and reduce the number of times the chimes are broadcast during an hour.As it stands now, the bells peal from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. during weekends. And, like any other Westminster-style clock, the chimes ring in every quarter hour, but also play two songs at noon and again at 5 p.m.It took some prodding, but the mayor convinced the city council members to stop the chimes by 9 p.m. during the week, even though he argued first for a tighter schedule. Weatherill rarely lobbies before the city council, but he stuck to his guns Monday, imploring members to shave four hours off the chimes' broadcast schedule, and operate them from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. Weatherill said that, over the last month, he's fielded various complaints about the chimes and their hours of operation from several neighbors, both informally and in writing.Still, the council as a whole wasn't buying the mayor's proposal at first, except for councilmember Bob Geiger and, council member Rick Wyatt, who wondered whether paring the schedule down from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. would suffice.Meanwhile, council members Tom Stansbery and Don Morrison contended they hear only positive comments on the chimes. Council member John Clauson, who has informally managed the chimes since their purchase, said he wasn't averse to modifying the manner in which the chimes are played, but didn't necessarily want to cut back the schedule so dramatically at first.Instead, Clauson, as well as Stansbery and Morrison, backed up a motion advanced by Council member Carolyn Powers - to quiet the chimes an hour earlier during the week, and then see what happens. City Planner Rob Wenman said the shortened hours will go into effect on a trial basis by Monday, although city council members haven't decided yet when they plan to revisit the issue.The council's decision came as a relief to Todd Kramer, who lives a few blocks from City Hall. Kramer rises every morning at 4 so he can catch an early ferry to Seattle. To keep up that kind of schedule, Kramer said he tries to fall asleep by 8 every night.But because the chimes usually continue to gong two hours beyond his bedtime, Kramer said it's difficult for him to secure a good night's rest.That's not to say he doesn't like the chimes.On the contrary, Kramer said city officials should continue to broadcast the chimes because the electrical tones show off to visitors and residents alike.In fact, few, if any Port Orchard residents dislike the chimes at City Hall. For those who do find fault in the chimes, the issues are volume, broadcast lengths, and hours of operation, Weatherill said."

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