Sweet sound of success

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 9, 2003

ROME TOWNSHIP - A woman who is thought to be the county's oldest citizen and a descendant of former slaves got the honor of ringing Lawrence County's Bicentennial Bell before anyone else.

Clara Crawford, of Bradrick, who is 106 years old, and Owen Pleasant, 90, of Burlington, were handed the long bell pull and together they gave a collaborative tug. The bell was officially presented to the county in a ceremony Tuesday at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds.

After Crawford and Pleasant rang the bell, the area's veterans were invited to take a turn. Under the threat of a thunderstorm, people lined up afterward to get their own chance at ringing the county's bell.

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"I think it was awesome," Kyle Coleman, 8, of South Point, said.

"It was great," Betty Burcham of Proctorville, said. Several members of the Burcham family got to ring the bronze bell, including her great-granddaughter, Brooklynn McLain, who is two-and-a- half years old.

The Lawrence County Fair Board purchased the No. 1 Lawrence County replica bell for $475. The Verdin Co., of Cincinnati made 10 so-called "county bells." All of the others had been purchased prior to the final ceremony.

"We'll keep it in the office and show it off," Fair board member Jim Thompson said.

The final ceremony was also a chance to showcase local talent. Chesapeake singer/songwriter Howie Damron sang "Freedom Bell", a tune he wrote for the state's 200th birthday. Much of the event was patriotic in nature. A color guard from the VFW Post 6878 in Proctorville provided a 21 gun salute, and Lawrence Countian Isabella Edwards sang the national anthem. As veterans stood waiting to ring the bell, Lee Greenwood's hit song "God Bless The U.S.A." was played over loudspeakers.

The bell will now be on display at the fairgrounds until it is taken on a cross-county tour July 19 and 20.