A clock, no matter the size or shape, has a lot of moving parts.

Without the proper care for each and every component, it will inevitably cease to tick. Someone must look after it and see to it that it is set correctly, as many only notice time in the instant when it stands still.

“You know the saying of the butterfly effect? How you can have a small effect that gets magnified over time? That’s Glenn Garrett,” said Robert Aylward, a former Cheyenne City Council member, friend of Garrett and the person who nominated him to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s Unsung Heroes award. “The little things he does have immeasurable, invaluable future impact.”

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On Dec. 15, Garrett, a local architect for many years, ascends three sets of long and slightly rickety ladders within the Cheyenne Depot clock tower, on his way to reset the clock for another week. Before, after and in between each set of rungs, he stops to share more information, more than anyone else knows, about the history of the tower.

What he’s most focused on, however, is playing a game.

Before standing several stories above Cheyenne and working on the intricate mechanism that keeps the clock ticking, Garrett collects numbers from employees in the Chamber of Commerce offices that are housed in the Depot.

They pick a number between 0 and 59, each of which he logs in a small hardback notebook that he has carried with him for this very activity since November 2002; 43, 44, 59, and 17 are just some of the numbers that the staff chooses, but chances are slim that their number will be called.

“After a while, I got kind of bored, and I thought, well, we can play this numbers game,” Garrett said. “So if you win, my line is you win the sin of your choice. Most of the time, their sin is chocolate.”

The Depot tower works like a grandfather clock, with a weight, once wound, slowly descending down the length of the building, keeping the clock on a perfectly paced eight-day timer. Alone, he winds a pulley system like one would a rod and reel, returning the weight to its highest point.

He then leans over a mass of gold gears and contraptions, protected within a small structure, of which he is a sort of key master. Tightening a bolt, he steps and leans down to carefully watch a clock about the size of a wrist watch count the seconds leading up to the top of the hour.

With the tap of a finger, he stops the pendulum, halting time in the depot tower.

The small hand lands on 53 seconds, the winning number. No one will be granted the sin of their choice today.

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His weekly trek from his architecture office on Capitol Avenue to the top of the Depot tower is a capsule of Garrett’s wider attitude toward Cheyenne. Garrett doesn’t miss a beat, doesn’t flaunt his efforts, but does the task because it keeps the clock ticking, and if someone must do it, it should be him.

“He’s a community member, and we need more community members like him that take ownership of their community and try to make it a better place,” Aylward said. “It’s going to be people like that who ultimately make Cheyenne a better place to live.”

Many likely don’t know that the reason why the train Depot, Atlas Theatre and Hynds Building are still standing is due largely to Garrett’s efforts.

“They weathered the storm,” Garrett said. “When you have a really well-made and crafted building, something that people can identify with, it kind of protects itself so much that people don’t want it torn down. They want to develop and keep it.

“The other part of it is that it tells the history of Cheyenne. It’s our legacy here.”

The love he has for downtown Cheyenne and its architecture is expressed through his actions.

Walking to and from the Cheyenne Depot, or making his way through its lobby, Garrett hardly refers to himself. Rather, he recites the history of the Depot, going through the team that helped save it after record flood levels in 1985.

It’s this flood that devastated the structures he still fights to protect. The walls of the Depot were boarded up, the windows of the Hynds Building busted out, the Atlas left in disrepair.

Garrett was a part of the committee that pushed for the Union Pacific Railroad to give the Depot to the city of Cheyenne. The group spent a year spreading consciousness of the issues the Depot faced, its importance as a symbol of the community, and ultimately raised $2 million in donations from residents to file a challenge grant.

He then worked as a key architect on the project, restoring the Depot it back to its former glory by removing up to two tons of useless copper wire from the walls, installing new central heating and cooling, and phasing out the technology that Union Pacific had installed.

The Lights On! at the Hynds project was similar; he worked for five years, starting in 2008, to repair the building and make it a usable space. The same goes for restoring the Atlas Theatre. Garrett hates seeing good architecture go to waste, even buildings from the 1950s, which he sees disappearing more and more.

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Outside of his structural endeavors, Garrett was also instrumental in creating the New Year’s Eve ball drop event, which used to be held in the Depot Plaza. He and a team of architects designed everything to do with the ball, making sure that it could withstand the high winds and wintertime.

There’s still more to be done in regards to Cheyenne’s architecture. Right now, Garrett is working on filling the downtown “hole” on Lincolnway, the vacant lot that sits beside the Hynds Building, the aftermath of a 2004 fire that started inside the former Mary’s Bake Shoppe.

“[The Hynds Building] is right at what planners call 100% corner in the town. There’s a corner in every town that is the corner,” Garrett said. “So it was kind of a black eye in the context of greeting downtown. The hole, that’s the missing tooth.”

At the top of the depot tower, he watches his phone, waiting for the same world clock used by the International Space Station crew to start the pendulum once again. When the hour strikes, he nudges the pendulum, and the machinery begins to move.

Time is ticking in Cheyenne once again, and the weight that moves it will constantly descend until the following week, when Garrett ascends the tour and cranks it back to where it belongs.

Will Carpenter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s Arts and Entertainment/Features Reporter. He can be reached by email at wcarpenter@wyomingnews.com or by phone at 307-633-3135. Follow him on Twitter @will_carp_.

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