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Complaints over Newly Renovated Church Bells in Dupont

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DUPONT, Pa. -- When a church in our area restored its bells, the pastor of the parish thought the ringing would please worshippers and neighbors alike.

But some people living near the church say the ringing bells are too loud and are disrupting their lives.

The bells from that church in Luzerne County rang for the first time since the 1960s in late October.

Some neighbors say it's like having a community alarm clock but one says it's a threat to his health.

Every weekday morning at 7 a.m. in Dupont, the bells from the Sacred Heart church ring seven times to mark the time of day.

After seven bells it gets louder. This sound that rings throughout Dupont every morning is called the Angelus.

"It's nice, puts me at ease. I really like listening to church bells," said Dupont resident Mike Tonkin.

"To me, it's peaceful, because you can hear them chime, right on the hour," added Barbara Lis.

A block away, Bill Mogensen hears differently.

"It isn't a joy when you're battling bone cancer and heart disease," Mogensen said.

Ever since the bells of Sacred Heart were restored four months ago, Mogensen says he hasn't had a good night sleep.

"I don't know how much more I could put up with," he said.

He's worried. Mogensen suffers from ailments dating back to his service in Vietnam in the late 1960s when he was exposed to Agent Orange. His dining room table functions as a large medicine cabinet for his cancer and heart disease prescriptions. He also has medicine for high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, and migraine headaches that he says can be triggered by the bells a block away.

"When I start with a migraine, I'm usually down for the day," Mogensen said. "And it hurts. My head hurts almost every day."

Mogensen is scheduled for surgery this spring to remove blocked arteries. Doctors told him he'll need to stay in bed for at least three months to recover.

"I need my rest. The bells are waking me up," Mogensen said.

"Historically, the bells have always rung at 7 a.m.," said Fr. Thomas Petro, the pastor of Sacred Heart.

Fr. Petro spearheaded the drive this year to restore the church bells, bells that are so powerful, their sound shakes the belfry.

Fr. Petro admits the sound from the bells is not only loud but powerful. So powerful the noise penetrates the walls of people who live nearby, like Bill Mogensen.

"Well, William, we would never want you to lose sleep or be uncomfortable with something that is meant to bring joy or peace to people's lives," the pastor said.

Fr. Petro says because the complaints of Bill Mogensen and others, he'll silence the bells at 7 a.m. and begin ringing at 8 a.m.

"Because we are a caring, compassionate, faithful people," said Fr. Petro.

The Angelus that follows the 7 a.m. bells will also be eliminated, only to ring on its regular noon and 6 p.m. schedule.

"It's got to be better than what it is. At least, I can sleep past 7:30 in the morning," Mogensen laughed.

Fr. Petro expects to have a computer expert adjust the bells' ring times by early next week. The bells' 7 a.m. schedule will not change on Sundays where Fr. Petro says the ringing of the Angelus will remain its signature call to worship.

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