Where did time (capsule) go?
News · September 21, 2012

Editorís note: The location of Hoover Elementary time capsule, buried in 1987, was not as clear as hoped when staff began looking a few weeks ago. Middle School Principal Sara Oswald tells what transpired.

When the fifth-graders of Hoover Elementary in West Branch buried a time capsule in September 1987, they never imagined the adventure it would create in 2012.

When Jacqui Hart became the fifth-grade social studies teacher only a week before the start of classes this fall, she inherited the obligation of digging up the time capsule with her class for the 25th anniversary of its burial. Unfortunately, the only record was a map that referenced landmarks no longer in existence, and a newspaper article.

Hart contacted former teachers, students and administrators, but recollections contradicted each other as to the exact location of the capsule. After weeks of measuring and an hour walking the playground with a metal detector, even more questions remained (as well as spray paint dots in the dozens of possible locations indicating the existence of metal!). Responses to a post on the West Branch Times Facebook page brought more interesting insights. Several respondents said that the capsule was buried next to a small tree, a tree that has since been removed, and where two new playgrounds have been added. †

As conversation continued, it was mentioned that it may have been unearthed during the construction of the playground in 2006, and reburied. An underlying fear that the construction of the playground may have destroyed the time capsule had been discussed throughout the quest over the last few weeks, but hope had remained that the capsule would be found. Luckily, the mystery was soon solved.

When told that construction workers may have discovered the capsule, Hart was led to Bruce Barnhart, owner of Barnhart Custom Services.

ďI have it!Ē was his reply.

When it was accidentally unearthed during playground construction, Bruce had approached school personnel and discussion included the possibility of reburying it, but with the excavation and activity at the time, a plan was not made.

Without hearing what should be done with it, he took responsibility to ensure that it stayed unharmed and stored it on a top shelf in his shop, where it has remained untouched since 2006.

It is now in the West Branch Middle School where students are researching the year 1987 and predicting itís contents. Plans are to open the capsule with this yearís fifth-grade class on Thursday, Sept. 20th.

The contents will be displayed at the home football game on Friday, Sept. 21st from 6-7 p.m. in front of the elementary building and then moved to the Middle School display case.

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