by Cori Hilsgen
If you are driving past the St. Joseph Community Fire Hall and happen to notice that the fire bell looks a little shinier, you would be correct.
With help from some generous people, the bell got a facelift this year.
St. Joseph Historical Society president Andy Loso said the bell was in great condition, but the bell wheel had a broken/missing spoke that disappeared years ago.
Sunset Manufacturing Co. of St. Joseph fabricated a new wheel spoke and welded it back on with no charge to the project and Oso Handy Restorations (Loso) donated the labor to remove the bell.
The frame which the bell had been mounted to had rotted after decades of being outdoors, so Oso Handy Restorations created a new base.
The St. Joseph Historical Society donated the cost of the sandblasting and powder coating portion of the project.
City of St. Joseph assistant public works director Jim Marthaler helped remove the bell and reinstall it.
The bell was purchased in 1885. St. Joseph resident Ellie Studer remembers that after the bell was no longer needed as a fire bell it was used as a curfew bell before the city siren was used. When the bell was rung at 9 p.m., children were expected to head home.