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Officials ready for ground to break tonight
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MONROE - The nervousness of starting the downtown reconstruction project is like the day before a wedding, said Pam Christopher, director of Monroe Chamber of Commerce.

Christopher and Tom Purdy, community development specialist with Fehr-Graham, met Wednesday to prepare for the groundbreaking ceremony at 6 p.m. today on the Square.

Fehr-Graham, the engineering firm hired to oversee the project, set a conservative timeline for the reconstruction to be completed by mid-November, Purdy said.

"We believe we'll be able to do that, no problem," Purdy said.

Pouring concrete "could become a concern" as fall weather approaches, Purdy said, but he's received assurances E&N Hughes Company, Inc., can get it done.

The city's finances for the project are coming slower than expected, and Mayor Ron Marsh will not sign off for the project to begin until he has loan confirmation in hand.

"The city is getting its ducks in a row, and that's understandable," Purdy said.

"Everyone wants to see this go well," he added.

The Commission of Public Lands, and all its lawyers, will look over the city's loan application on June 2, Purdy said. If things go well, the Monroe City Council could be approving the loan and Marsh could be signing the go-ahead for construction as early as that night.

However, E&N Hughes may not be able to be on-site the next day.

Even without the official nod to begin, "I'm sure (E&N Hughes) is getting parts ordered," Purdy said.

"Things can move pretty quickly," Purdy said about the construction project.

The city hired E&N Hughes on May 5. The $2.9 million contract covers work on the Square, plus reconstruction work on partial side streets just off the Square.

The entire project, with water main work and coal bins filled, as well as streetscape amenities, will come to about $4.08 million, Purdy said.

A groundbreaking and ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. today at the corner of 10th Street and 17th Avenue. The city announced that a majority of the members of the City of Monroe Common Council, BID Board, Main Street Board and Main Street subcommittees may be present.