Chimes players may not return after fellow player’s dismissal


Daily Illini file photo

Workers are repairing the Altgeld Bell Tower. After being dismissed, many chimes players are not sure they’ll come back.

By Luke Cooper, Staff Writer

While work began to repair the Altgeld Bell Tower, only a couple of its chimes players may continue to play when it reopens at an undisclosed time.

“It’s Ernesto, really,” said chimes player Cody Jones, citing former chimes player and math adviser Ernesto Machado’s ill-received dismissal as a cause for chimes players discontinuing.

Machado was dismissed as a chimes player after sending an email in March to Associate Provost for Capital Planning Matthew Tomaszewski, addressing the chimes players’ disapproval with the lack of communication on the future of the Altgeld Bell Tower.

The email also requested specific repairs for the tower, which all of the players signed off on as a nod of approval.

He said three of the seven chimes players may decide to stop playing when the tower reopens, himself included.

“All of us are very close friends,” Jones said. “We hang out outside of the chime tower, and so, what’s going to happen? Is Ernesto just going to keep hanging out with us, but he’s not going to be playing with us?”

Chimes players have been receiving periodic emails from Tomaszewski, updating them on the status of the tower’s repairs, which include photos of the specific projects being worked on.

According to his emails, repair work is well under way within the Altgeld Bell Tower. The playing and practice keyboards have been removed from the tower for restoration, and both the tower’s stairs and ladder are being revamped to provide safer access to its playing room and chime room.

In addition to pre-existing issues needing repair, the University’s Facilities and Services team had identified the framework supporting the bells to be in “poor condition,” with some beams, and all frame and support bolts, needing to be replaced. Facilities and Services workers noted that the first bolt they inspected had rusted through completely.

The tower’s masonry has also caused concerns, Tomaszewski said. Facilities and Services crews have identified crumbling mortar and loose brick, some of which has fallen from the tower’s bell platform onto the roof of the playing room. The workers, he said, are currently inspecting the situation more to identify the best way to address the issue.

“It’s encouraging,” said Dane Skabelund, chimes player and mathematics Ph.D. student, about the emails. “It’s nice to see what’s going on in the tower.”

Both Jones and Skabelund said the tower’s reopening date has not yet been set.

“I think there’s kind of a vague hope that in the fall it will be open again,” Skabelund said. “But it seems far enough off that we don’t have to think about it too much.”

Machado has not been recieving the emails sent from Tomaszewski regarding the tower’s status, which Skabelund said is concerning.

“That seems to indicate to me that Matthew doesn’t want him to be involved with the chimes, even after they’re fixed,” he said. “I would want to see Ernesto allowed into the group before I resume playing again because what happened was not okay.”

Despite Machado not receiving the emails, Jones said he has been forwarding them to him anyway.

“He’s a friend of ours, and he’s one of us despite what has happened,” he said.

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