Michael Zielinski of Troop 1115 recently completed his Eagle Scout project for the Stevensville Historical Museum. Finishing the project was his last requirement for the Boy Scout Eagle Rank.
While selling Boy Scout popcorn last fall, Michael met Renee Endicott, the coordinator for the Bear Mountain Playground. Michael had helped build the playground on multiple days and he wondered if the playground needed any further work that he could use as a project. Endicott told him it has been completed, but there was a bell in Stevensville’s Lewis & Clark Park that no one seemed to know the history of. Michael thought this might hold potential as a project.
Later that year, as Michael was working on his Citizenship in the Community merit badge, he visited the Stevensville town hall and inquired about the bell. Ed Sutherlin, Streets, Alleys and Parks Supervisor, happened to be in the office and told Michael that the bell used to be the town’s fire bell. He also said the bell needed to be moved to the Stevensville Historical Museum.
Michael realized this project would meet all the requirements of an Eagle project and it provided something for the town where he lives. He decided to contact the Museum about the bell and was met with great enthusiasm. He began the process to move the bell to the museum, refinish the bell and build a display structure for it, all now permanent in place at the museum.
The project took just over 400 labor hours with almost 25 percent of those hours contributed by Michael alone. All the labor and nearly 100% of the materials were donated. Michael would like to thank all those involved with the project and encourages people to visit the bell at the museum and read the list of donors who made the project possible. All were integral parts of the project as well as a considerable number of people who stopped by to dig a hole or swing a hammer.
Michael is 13 years old and will be entering the 8th grade next fall. He started in scouting when he joined Cub Scout Pack 4934 in the first grade. Michael has found scouting to be a lot of work, but there is a lot of fun to go along with the work. Now that he has obtained the rank of Eagle, he is looking at having more fun than work!
Ruth Baker, a board member at the Stevensville Historical Museum, has been researching and compiling historical information about the bell. The following information will be displayed with the bell: “This bell was the town of Stevensville’s fire alarm bell for many years. It was originally located behind Mr. Robert H. Rasmussen’s bakery store on the east side of Main Street, which is now the North Valley Public Library. When a fire occurred, the fire bell would be rung to summon the volunteer firemen. When the bell was replaced (circa 1960’s?) with electronic sirens, it was moved to the front yard of the old 4th-8th grade public school building. In the early 1980’s, the bell was moved by Ed Sutherlin to the Lewis and Clark Park, where the Stevensville school shop class built a structure for it. In May of 2016 the bell was finally moved to its present location at the Stevensville Historical Museum as an Eagle Scout Project by Michael Zielinski, which involved refinishing the bell and building a new structure.”
According to Baker, it has been difficult to find information regarding the bell. It is mentioned in “Montana Genesis” (a history of Stevensville published in 1971), and in a few newspaper articles about the many fires in Stevensville during the early part of the 20th Century. Baker also found information from newspapers of the time on various fires in Stevensville in 1912 and 1913. Some accounts mention the fire bell and some don’t.
If anyone has additional information about Stevensville’s fire bell, contact Ruth Baker at 777-3201. The information will be added to the museum exhibit about the fire bell, an important piece of Stevensville’s history.