Let the bell ring - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Let the bell ring

March 13, 2006

Cairo -- A group of Grady County citizens thinks the courthouse lawn is too quiet. A fire 26 years ago brought down a 2,300 pound bell from the courthouse clock tower. A group of citizen's wants to restore that bell and bring it home.

A McShane bell once sat atop the Grady County Courthouse. A fire in 1980 and a tragic three-story fall may have silenced the bell forever.

"Ralph Bishop, he was sort of the caretaker, he retrieved the bell and the mechanism for the clock from the ashes of the courthouse in 1980," said Wayne Hadden of the Bell Tower Committee.

When the courthouse was rebuilt, the bell was not included. "For about 26 years it just collected dust. It was out at the county work camp in the back yard under a little lean-to type shed," Hadden said.

Now a group of concerned citizens is chiming in to put the bell back where it belongs. They've started a campaign to raise $80,000 to construct a new clock tower to house the 98-year-old bell. "It is such an important piece of our history, been around for a long time it deserves to be back on that courthouse lawn."

They've had the bell cleaned and X-rayed, but damage done during the three-story fall means the bell can't be rung on a regular basis.

"It does have two bad cracks in it, and yeah, we won't be able to ring it, but we will have electronically controlled mechanism in the tower that will, and can chime," Hadden said.

In an effort to get the community to chime in, the committee plans to haul the bell to different businesses until enough money is raised to put the bell back on the courthouse lawn.

Citizens interested in donating to the bell tower campaign can contact the Grady County Chamber of Commerce.

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