- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - A bell that tolled for Council Bluffs fire calls as early as the 1800s is again hanging outside a city fire station after years in storage.

Fire Chief Justin James told The Daily Nonpareil (http://bit.ly/2jQrf1d ) that the bell is now hanging from a newly constructed Centennial Bell Tower at a fire station in the center of the city. It was placed in its new home Monday.

Jim and Kelly Salvo of Salvo’s Construction provided the heavy equipment needed to hang the 1,300 pound brass bell with a crane. The Salvos are also Council Bluffs firefighters.

The operation went smoothly despite a few minor hitches, Jim Salvo said. The crane was controlled with a remote, and a chain had to be fed through a hole on top of the tower to raise the bell.

“It was pretty amazing because it had to be a perfect fit,” Salvo said. “They say it’s 1,300 pounds but I suspect it’s heavier than that.”

James said the $200,000 cost to construct the tower and restore the bell was funded by donations. He said the fire department’s next task is working on the roof and the plaza below.

Mayor Matt Walsh said the bell is a unique artifact of the city’s history.

“We have a long standing tradition with our fire department here,” Walsh said. “The bell goes back 140 years and is a great source of pride for our firefighters. I think it’s important to the citizenry to learn that history and to celebrate it.”

James said a ceremony to honor the bell could occur this spring.

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Information from: The Daily Nonpareil, http://www.nonpareilonline.com

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