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Historic Salmo school bell returning home

A 113-year-old school bell is expected to be returned soon to a prominent place in Salmo.

The bell sat in front of the current elementary school from 1961 until a few years ago, although it came from an earlier school built in 1903 on Main Street where Salmo Village Grocery now stands.

School District 8 operations director Chris Kerr explained the bell was broken due to metal fatigue and they decided it was too dangerous to be left in that condition, so they removed it for repairs.

However, the welder was only able to braze the bell back together, meaning it was very unstable and wouldn’t survive much handling.

He said they looked at housing the bell within Salmo Secondary, but that didn’t work out and most of those they consulted in the community felt it should be displayed at the elementary school.

The Village of Salmo agreed and another concrete pad was poured to replace the old one, which was in poor shape. However, Kerr says the bell was re-broken within two weeks “as children and adults couldn’t resist playing on it or handling it.”

Back to the school district’s maintenance yard in Nelson it went. The bell is now in the school district’s welding shop. In June, village council discussed the matter again and passed a motion to accept the bell and determine a place to put it.

Last month mayor Diana Lockwood said they hope to receive it “very soon.” The village will then turn it over to the Salmo Arts Council, who will display it — once repaired and repainted — on the Community Church property directly across from where the old school once stood.

“There is hope some history is obtained so there can be an information plaque put up with it,” she said.

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