Bicentennial Bell finds home in Ironton

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 21, 2003

For two days, it toured the countryside and saw the sights. Now, Lawrence County's Bicentennial Bell is home at last.

Amid fanfare, the bell was placed inside the Lawrence County Courthouse Sunday evening after a ceremony on the courthouse steps.

"There's been such a big buildup the whole day," bell tour committee member Bill Dingus said.

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"I'm very pleased. I'm pleased with how the bell has united the whole county. It's been exciting."

Dingus estimated that 3,000 or more people were able to see and ring the bell along its way from the fairgrounds in Rome Township to the courthouse in Ironton.

At the ceremony in Ironton and at a stopover in Coal Grove, the area's veterans were honored.

"The reason we ring the bell today is because of the men and women who served our country; some gave everything they had," Coal Grove Mayor Tom McKnight said. "Thank you. You honor us so much."

Those sentiments were echoed by Lawrence County Commission President George Patterson at the Ironton ceremony.

"You're the most important people we could look to in this day and age," Patterson said. The bell also made stops yesterday in South Point, Burlington, Proctorville and Chesapeake.

One couple who has been there and seen it all are Donna and Wally Harper of Ironton. The Harpers saw the bell poured at the fair, and then took the entire two-day trip, pausing at each stopping point to ring the bell.

"We were just there when they made it, so we thought why not go to each stop and ring the bell?" Wally Harper said. "I'll ring it one more time when they put it inside the courthouse." Harper is an employee of the City of Ironton.

"I'm glad to be a part of it," Donna Harper said. "This is history. This is our heritage."