New, Old, and Wonderful: Hahn applies coursework to help revitalize Bluffton

Pursuing a degree often may lead you down unexpected paths.

Jarrod Hahn, the elected surveyor of Wells County, discovered this in a College of Arts and Sciences course while pursuing a construction engineering technology degree.

During the summer 2018 semester, Jarrod took the course W234 Technical Report Writing, which in part requires students to develop a grant proposal for a nonprofit.

That class assignment led him to a $10,000 campaign to renovate the clock tower on the Wells County Courthouse in his hometown of Bluffton.

“We had to do a grant proposal, and it could be for any not-for-profit,” Jarrod said. “Originally, I wanted to do something that was local, that had some local tie where I work and live, so I picked [the clock tower] as a project and then I decided to pitch it to somebody and see how it worked out.”

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Jarrod Hahn

He said that his job as the county surveyor brings him into contact with a variety of local businesspeople, and that one such connection started the fundraising campaign.

“A little while after the class was over, an opportunity presented itself,” he said. “I was with a gentleman who is over a foundation, and I thought I’d pitch it to him. A couple weeks later, I found out they were going to donate.”

Jarrod said that donors have pledged $2,000 of the $10,000 needed for the project, which will replace the century-old bell with a modern electronic chime that can double as a tornado warning system. The bell, he said, has sat silent for many years.

“[The bell] always chimed on the hour,” he said. “It was very heavy, and it started doing some structural damage, so they had to discontinue using it. A lot of people older than my generation remember that; people that are younger than me don’t remember it.

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The Wells County Courthouse and clocktower, viewed from the street below.

“There’s a company out there that actually provides software and you tell them what size of a bell it is, how much it weighs, and they will make a chime that sounds like a bell that weighs that amount.”

Jarrod’s efforts tie into a larger movement to revitalize downtown Bluffton, led by an organization called Bluffton NOW (New, Old, and Wonderful).

“Nobody had really championed that project of the old – like the clock tower,” Jarrod said. “They’re wanting to build a new park and do some of that; I wanted to champion that older part of it.

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