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Wal-Mart digs in
Times photo: Jim Winter Steve Johnstone of Falk Group, working for Wal-Mart and employees of Corporate Construction, inserts shovels into dirt in preparation for Wednesdays groundbreaking ceremony for the new Wal-Mart Supercenter.
MONROE - The Wal-Mart Supercenter has broken ground, and company officials celebrated with Monroe's city leaders, local Wal-Mart associates and construction contractors Wednesday at the building site on County N and Youth Cabin Road.

The 156,500-square-foot Supercenter is expected to take 10 to 11 months to build and prepare for opening. Eventually, the store should create 100 new jobs.

The present store is 98,249 sq. ft. and employs 180 people.

The new store will include sporting goods, lawn and garden products, apparel and general merchandise, as well as a full array of groceries. It also will feature a pharmacy, Tire & Lube Express and garden center.

Wal-Mart's new supercenters are designed to be super energy efficient - with LED lights, skylights, dimming ballasts and energy efficient freezer and refrigerators. The new construction practices are waste-reducing as well - for example, using fewer PVC pipes in its construction.

"We are leaders in this sustainability of store design," said Lisa Nelson, Wal-Mart's senior manager of public affairs.

Local ties to the store are many.

Hank Gempeler, Wal-Mart's attorney who helped put together the planned unit development, said his parents and grandparents were from Monroe.

Fritz Ruegsegger, with the project's general contractor, Corporate Construction, LTD, Madison, is from Monroe.

And Jerry Gentz of Gentz Electric, Monroe, is doing the electrical work.

""We did the original store, and we're doing this one," Gentz said.

Monroe Mayor Ron Marsh said when he walks through the doors of the Supercenter for the first time, he will say, "look at the fruits of our labor."

Marsh said it took the expertise of numerous members of the city "to make the Supercenter a plus for our city."

"I don't recall one meeting hearing anyone saying, 'that's not possible.' ... What we heard was 'let's see what we can do,'" he said.

"Wal-Mart has been a participating entity in our community for over 20 years," Marsh continued. "When completed, (the Supercenter) will be a benefit not only to Monroe but to all of Green County."

The Supercenter is located in the city's Ninth Ward.

"It's great that we are finally to this point and moving forward with this project," Ninth Ward Alderman Ken Kallembach said. "Wal-Mart Supercenter will add significantly to our property tax and county sales tax bases. Overall, it will have a positive effect for the community, now and in the future."