Loose Ends: Noon whistle mystery solved

Residents who miss the “noon whistle” will be pleased if the Rio Blanco Volunteer Fire Protection District gets it going once again. According to Fire Chief Steve Allen, the fire District board has directed him to fix the broken fire alarm. He mentioned that his efforts to get it repaired so far have not been successful, but he is continuing to find a way to get it up and running.
While the absence of the daily shriek was rumored to be attributed to complaints from disgruntled business and property owners, the broken alarm is what caused it to be taken down. While more observant residents noticed that the noon whistle apparatus had been taken off its downtown property, the missing high-pitched sound was what was mentioned by most people.
After the appearance of my column about the noon whistle, one reader called to let me know his theory.
“Open your door when the bells start ringing and listen to what happens.”
Upon doing so, I discovered that neighborhood dogs raise a ruckus. Like clockwork, the howling and barking lets everyone know the bells have rung on time. As I don’t live right next to a canine chorus, I hadn’t noticed how jarring the daily doggy din could be on the ears.
Much like many things in this community, the explanations for the alarm’s discontinuation were many and varied. A simple answer such as “it broke” doesn’t sound nearly as good.
To hear some people tell it, St. James’ bells could soon cease to ring because close residents find the aural aftermath (barking and howling of the dogs) disturbing.
Someday that sound may disappear, too, but if it does it will probably be because the bells get broken.