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Shelley School District tears down school bell landmark

SHELLEY:  The Shelley School District tore down its school bell landmark Monday, June 19 at the corner of State Street and Center Street to the displeasure of many in the community.

The school district’s ground crew removed the old school bell and razed the base that it sat on. Kindergarten Principle Robyn Elswood notified the public with the following notice on the Shelley Facebook page as the crew removed the bell and its base.

“To our wonderful Shelley community:

For safety reasons we will be tearing down the little building with the bell on top at Goodsell Elementary.

Please be assured we will be keeping the bell. That bell has been apart of the Shelley Schools for over 100 years. We will be moving the bell inside the school for display.

Thank you for your understanding and patience as we work to move the bell and make our playground safer for students and all who play there.

Ms. Elswood


The school bell landmark was erected in 1976 as part of a tribute to the nation’s bicentennial, according to the June 3, 1976 issue of The Shelley Pioneer.

“Friday May 26, 1976 was a red-letter day in this bicentennial year and history of Shelley,” the Shelley Pioneer article stated.

“On that day, a program to commemorate the mounting of the old school bell was held,†the article continued. “The school bell has been silent for so many years. It was moved from its resting place atop the red-brick schoolhouse, repaired, painted and placed upon a pedestal in front of the Dean Goodsell Elementary where all may view and enjoy it. Friday, it rang again.”

The school bell landmark has remained in place for 47 years. It has seen the old school where it once sat vacated, demolished, and removed. It also saw a five-point intersection upon which it was constructed change to a four-way intersection with a fountain park installed along the front of it.

However, the landmark was now fenced within the newly renovated Dean Goodsell Kindergarten playground.

“We were afraid children would be hurt by trying to climb the house on which the bell sat,†Elswood said. “I spoke with Superintendent Chad Williams, and we decided to remove the landmark and bring the bell inside the building to protect it and allow the students to ring it as they achieve certain learning goals.â€

Based on Facebook comments, some in the community feel the landmark was removed too quickly and without public input. One of those people is Jacqueline Wittwer, a Shelley Supporters of Arts member.

“The Shelley Supporters of the Arts has been fundraising to move the monument and make it part of the park adjacent to the existing landmark site. We wrote a grant and received money to survey the park where the landmark was to be moved. We also discussed the artistic renditions of the proposed renovated landmark with Shelley School District Superintendent Chad Williams,†Wittwer said. “We work so hard to maintain and to create art within the community. But, what is really hard is to see people remove a landmark without working with us or at least seeking public input through the school board.â€

Many in the community expressed concern on the Shelley Idaho Facebook page regarding the time capsule created when the bell tower landmark was created.

“We contacted the teacher who helped with the time capsule, and she told us that it was never placed in the ground. That it was brought into the school. However, we will absolutely make sure to dig underneath the concrete to make sure. If they are there, we will find them and set a time for the unveiling ceremony of the capsule,†Elswood said.