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The ringing returns

Courthouse bell fixed, tolls again

October 31, 2012
By ANDREW POTTER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

It's believed to have been 10 years since the bell in the clock tower at the Marshall County Courthouse rang regularly, and now it is back.

A new hammer was installed Tuesday and the bell will now ring on the hour 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The work was done by Rory DeMesy, of Mechanical Watch Supply in Minnesota. DeMesy affixed a hammer made in Belgium with a lead striker onto the original 1900 bell.

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"I've done a lot of these projects and it's pretty straightforward," DeMesy said.

DeMesy has done bell restoration work in Iowa before and said many towns are wanting that old-style sound instead of the newer digital tolls.

"It's a sound you can't get digitally any more," DeMesy said.

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Rory DeMesy, of Mechanical Watch Supply of Minnesota, affixes a new hammer on the bell in the clock tower at the Marshall County Courthouse Tuesday. The repairs have been completed and the bell now rings on the hour.

The bell is programmed through a control panel on another floor of the courthouse. It has an option to ring on the hour or as requested and also has special settings if there was a need to toll for a funeral or celebration.

DeMesy has been restoring bells for 30 years and said every tower has its own story. He was surprised to see some of the original equipment from the early 1900s still around in this tower.

Marshall County Supervisors Chair Denny Grabenbauer said it's been a long process to get the ringing back and all three supervisors wanted the tradition to return.

"I think it's fantastic," Grabenbauer said. "Our community tradition has been renewed. I hope everybody enjoys the sound of it again."

There was previous talk by the supervisors to hold off the ringing of the bell for a community event to create fanfare, but Grabenbauer said they decided to have it ring as soon as it was completed, which was Tuesday afternoon.

The project cost approximately $3,800, which included the parts and labor by DeMesy.


Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or



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