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home : news : news Thursday, January 18, 2018

10/14/2017 Email this articlePrint this article 
Dave Schumacher, who serves as Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus in DeWitt, stands in front of St. Joseph Catholic Church, where the bell is now ringing for the first time in many years.
Bell at St. Joseph in working order again - twice a day

Each day in DeWitt, trains can be heard rumbling down the tracks with their whistles blaring. Music piped through speakers wafts over the downtown area, The whistle at the fire station signals the noon hour.

Now, a "new" sound will be chiming in.

For many years, the bell inside the tower at St. Joseph Catholic Church has been silent.

But thanks to the efforts of members of the Knights of Columbus and other volunteers, it is ringing again - every day at noon and 6 p.m.

Dave Schumacher, who is a long-time member of the Knights of Columbus and serves as Grand Knight, said repairing the motor that sounds the bell has been a project in progress for the past few years.

"I've been in DeWitt about 30 years," he said, "and [the bell] has never really worked. We'd been talking about it, working on it, and trying various things."

At one time, a motor was installed to take the place of a rope that originally was used to make the bell swing back and forth.

But the motor didn't function properly, a problem that was likely due to the steeple - which is one of highest points in town, if not the highest - having been struck by lightning several times over the years.

Experts consulted

So, Schumacher and other members of the organization decided to consult with the experts.

"We discovered things weren't grounded well enough," he said. "So we called Jansen Electric and got everything brought up to code."

They also bought a new motor recommended by Chime Master, a company that aids in the restoration and incorporation of bell systems.

Now, the bell - which is the original bell, that was made in the 1880s and weighs about 2,000 pounds - chimes every day at noon and 6 p.m.

It also rings five minutes before each mass, at 4:25 p.m. on Saturdays, and 7:55 and 10:25 a.m. on Sundays.

There is also a secondary chime, which can be used for weddings, funerals, and other occasions.

Schumacher said people seem to love being able to hear the bell ringing throughout the town.

For some, it even sparks a bit of nostalgia.

"A few of the guys who have grown up here say it reminds them of their childhood," he said. "It takes them back to when they were kids. Whenever the church bell rang at 6 p.m., it was time to go home for supper.

"There were a lot of people involved with this project, and we couldn't have done it without every single one of them. It wouldn't have gotten done. I've heard nothing but positive stuff from people. When they hear it ... to see the smile on their faces, that's worth a million bucks."

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