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Norwich to construct memorial to Emancipation Proclamation

By Claire Bessette

Publication: The Day

Published November 21. 2012 4:00AM

Norwich - The City Council Monday agreed to front $100,000 to the Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration Committee to construct a bell tower and "Freedom Courtyard" in front of City Hall until state grant money arrives.

But the project cannot be completed in time for the city's major celebration Jan. 1.

City Historian Dale Plummer, who also was reappointed to a three-year term Monday, said the 18-foot tower to be erected beside the City Hall plaza will have to be completed in spring, when the ground thaws.

The Verdin Bell Co. of Cincinnati, which cast the city's 250-pound Emancipation Proclamation Bell at the Howard T. Brown Memorial Park in June, will build the steel tower at its home factory and ship two pieces to be erected in Norwich sometime in spring.

The city received the $100,000 grant in May from the state Probate Court Administration Fund, or money that is accrued from surpluses in probate fees that is distributed to fund various projects and programs throughout the state.

Mayor Peter Nystrom said there was a delay in the city's receipt of the funds because a contract governing the work had to be written. That contract is completed and is being reviewed by the state Attorney General's office.

Plummer said the grant money should arrive soon to reimburse the city's temporary loan to the project.

Throughout the year, Norwich has been celebrating the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation that ordered slaves in the rebellious states to be freed as of Jan. 1, 1863.

On Jan. 1, 2013, the city will re-enact the 1863 celebration in the city, when a 100-gun cannon salute took place and all city bells rang for hours. Organizers hope all working bells throughout the city - including churches, City Hall, mills and other buildings - will be rung for an hour starting at noon.

c.bessette@theday.com

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