At any point during construction of a project, there is an appearance of confusion with only a hint of organization. That appearance is magnified when there is more than one project under way at the same time in the same place.
On the downtown square, three major projects are in varying stages of completion, and workers for all three are toiling to achieve completion in time for the Independence Day Celebration, planned for Saturday, June 30.
The three projects — the city's rebuild of the square, the Veterans Memorial and repairs to the restored courthouse — are all going on at the same time, and officials indicate all three are on pace to be finished by the deadline.
City workers are beginning to put the pieces together, and the square is starting to resemble what it will look like when the job is complete.
“It looks like we will make it,” said City Manager Marc Maxwell. “We will have the interior of the square and, of course, we've already finished most of the streets around it, but the interior will be done by June 30.”
With the work done around and on the square, citizens might wonder where the stage for the orchestra will be placed. The shrubbery, trees and landscaping now occupy the space where the stage has been in the past.
“It's going to go on the diagonal portion of Jeffer son Street,” Maxwell said. “It sits right there on the diagonal rather than being backed up against Alliance Bank.
“The city has recently bought a 28 feet by 28 feet section of stage, which is about one-third of what we need to support the whole symphony orchestra,” Maxwell said. “It's enough for plenty other types of events, and over the next couple of years, we will buy some more.”
For this year, Maxwell said the city would rent the additional stage to meet the needs of the symphony orchestra.
“Eventually we will have a stage large enough,” he said. “It will be huge, a block long stage.”
The new construction along Jefferson was designed with the celebration in mind. Under a diamond-plate door in the sidewalk is access to all the electric power needed by the stage as well as control cabling under the street to the flag pole in the center of the square to accommodate the sound engineer.
Another placement of displays for special events on the renovated square is the Christmas tree that, traditionally, has been on the stage that is no longer there.
“The fountain at the southwest corner of the square turns off, and the Christmas tree goes right there,” Maxwell said. “The lights used with the fountain can still be activated under the Christmas tree so all those little ornaments will really sparkle.”
The city is holding off on the start of work on Oak Avenue and that portion of Jefferson Street between Oak and Church streets until after the Independence Day celebration.
As for the Veterans Memorial, foundations are in place for the memorial walls, and contractors are pouring concrete for the water feature, a waterfall down a wall separating the memorial from the air conditioning equipment for the courthouse. A spokesman for the memorial committee indicated work was progressing toward having the memorial in place before June 30.
On the courthouse itself, workers have removed window units and granite and sandstone for repairs and are using a special sealant to prevent further leaks on the balconies and porches of the historic structure.
“Everything is still moving along very well,” County Judge Chris Brown said. “They are finishing up the final coat of roofing sealant on the balconies and they should start replacing the stone next week.”
There have been delays in the courthouse project due to the process of getting approval from the Texas Historical Commission and the need to replace some features.
“What we needed to have remanufactured is being done and that's supposed to be coming in late this week or early next week,” Brown explained. “So, we should start seeing the stone going back up.”
The replacement of some of the century-old stonework on the courthouse will leave some significant pieces of the original material, pieces of history Brown said the county is looking for ways to use.
“We don't know what that use might be yet,” Brown said. “We will try to find something fun to do with it but, to be honest, don't have any idea.”
Some of the stone left over from the original restoration has finally been declared to be salvage by the commissioners court and has been donated to Hopkins County Historical Society.
“We may end up with some unique pieces,” Brown said. “We are going to try to find a creative way to utilize the stone. It will just depend on what we have and what we can come up with to find how we can best utilize the stones.”
As the square block of coordinated construction progresses at a frenzied pace, all three entities are sure their projects will be completed — on time.
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