Metro-East News

Wally Spiers: Construction to start on Sept. 11 Memorial this spring

A piece from one of the fallen buildings in the World Trade Center — a 35-feet-long, 7,000-pound twisted steel beam — will be incorporated into the Sept. 11 Memorial in Belleville.
A piece from one of the fallen buildings in the World Trade Center — a 35-feet-long, 7,000-pound twisted steel beam — will be incorporated into the Sept. 11 Memorial in Belleville. snagy@bnd.com

The committee organizing the Sept. 11 Memorial Wall of Southern Illinois is about to take a different approach.

Sharon Strasbaugh, chairwoman of the nonprofit committee, said the group has decided to try and get part of the monument built and then work on funding the rest of the project.

“We’re planning to start building in phases starting this spring,” she said. “The original intention was to wait until we had enough money to build it from start to finish.”

But fundraising has not been an easy job these last few years and although the project has benefited from quite a few events held by fire and police departments, the $125,000 raised won’t cover the entire concept of a walk that will explain all of 9-11.

Strasbaugh, who also is manager of marketing for the city of Belleville and administrator of the city’s website, said people are wondering what has happened.

People with experience in large fundraising tell us people want to see things happen. It is better to start and keep raising money.

Sharon Strasbaugh, chairwoman of the nonprofit committee

The group has a piece from one of the fallen buildings in the World Trade Center, a 35-feet-long, 7,000-pound twisted steel beam, which it got in 2011. The artifact has been in parades and on display in other places. Now it sits on a trailer in Engine House No. 4 at the intersection of Illinois 159 and Illinois 15.

“We hope in the spring to get the beam in place,” Strasbaugh said. “Once it’s on display we will keep raising money to complete the entire project including the timeline walk that interprets 9-11. We want to at least dedicate the first phase of the project on Sept. 11, the 15th anniversary.”

Why the change?

“People with experience in large fundraising tell us people want to see things happen,” she said. “It is better to start and keep raising money.”

Some grading has been done on the site just west of the firehouse. Some had to be redone to comply with guidelines in the Americans with Disability Act. Strasbaugh said the city provided the site, and it was instrumental in being able to obtain the steel beam because it will go in a location with high visibility and a lot of traffic.

The committee isn’t even sure how much they will need to finish the project. Some labor already has been donated and more may be available. They plan to estimate how much material they may need, such as concrete, and ask for bids so they will have better numbers, Strasbaugh said.

“We may get some reduced prices there or even donations,” she said.

Anyone can go online and take a virtual tour of the project at www.wtcmemorial.us. Members of the committee are available to talk to groups interested in knowing more.

“We’re still gung-ho,” she said. “But we are still in need of money.”

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