BELLEVILLE — Work to prepare the grounds for a new Sept. 11 memorial in Belleville will begin as soon as the weather allows.
The first step will be to clear some trees, level the ground and mark property lines at 1125 S. Illinois St.
The September 11 Memorial Walkway of Southern Illinois will be built on city-owned property by Firehouse No. 4.
A 7,100-pound steel column from the World Trade Center will be the centerpiece of the memorial. The design will also feature a Flight 93 Memorial, a timeline of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and a memorial in the shape of a pentagon.
Sharon Strausbaugh, vice president of the memorial committee, said organizers plan to finish construction in time for a dedication on Sept. 11 this year.
The City Council on Monday approved the committee to have two ceremonies related to the memorial:
* The groundbreaking ceremony will be at 11 a.m. on March 11.
* The dedication ceremony will be at 11 a.m. on Sept. 11.
Hank's Excavating and Landscaping, based in Belleville, will take the lead on the design and construction aspects of the project, Strausbaugh said.
The company said it's "very doable" to be completely done by Sept. 11, Strausbaugh said.
"If you think about it in terms of a puzzle, getting Hank's on board is like having the framework of the puzzle and now we just fill in the blanks," Strausbaugh said.
Strausbaugh said the memorial committee has raised $80,000 for the project so far. The committee has not given an estimate of the total project.
Organizers initially aimed to raise $100,000 before breaking ground, but the committee hopes more people will donate to the cause once they see work being done on site, Strausbaugh said.
Strausbaugh reassured council members, namely Alderwoman-at-Large Lillian Schneider, at a recent council meeting that the committee will pay for the project with private funds. Schneider does not want city funds used for the project.
For more information on the memorial and how to donate, visit www.wtcmemorial.us or call the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce at 233-6769. Strausbaugh can be reached at email@example.com or 618-233-6518, ext. 1245.
All donations are tax deductible since the Sept. 11 Memorial Walkway of Southern Illinois Committee is a subcommittee of the nonprofit Belleville Cultural Enrichment Organization.