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Last steel beam in place at new library

Irworker Steve Engel tells history 'topping off' traditions before last steel beam is added new library's superstructure Friday River Bentstreets

Iron worker Steve Engel tells the history of the 'topping off' traditions before the last steel beam is added to the new library's superstructure on Friday at River and Benton streets in Aurora. | Amy Roth, Aurora Public Library

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Updated: March 17, 2014 11:55AM

AURORA — City leaders and steel workers celebrated Friday as the last steel beam was added to the new main library’s superstructure at River and Benton streets in downtown Aurora.

Adding the last beam marked a special milestone for the library. The construction project is now about 30 percent complete, according to Barbara Kattermann, the library’s representative overseeing the project. Mayor Tom Weisner, Aurora Library Board President John Savage, Aurora Library Executive Director Eva Luckinbill, Wegman Construction President Terry Bohr and others were on hand for the occasion Friday.

Iron worker Steve Engel talked about the “topping off” tradition, where the last beam of modern structures is often adorned with a small pine tree on one end. Members of Iron Workers Local 393 who are working on the library site also signed the last beam before it was hoisted into place by crane.

“What (the ceremony) is really is about is the satisfaction we take in getting the hard part done,” Engel said.

Kattermann said that the iron workers are “an incredible construction crew” who have worked through an extremely difficult winter season.

The library construction project, which is managed by R.C. Wegman Construction, is on budget and on time, Savage said Friday.

“It’s a great milestone, one that’s taken years of planning. Now the frame of the building is complete,” he said.

Officials broke ground on the 92,000-square-foot Aurora library project May 1. The project is expected to be completed in May 2015, according to Kattermann.

Upon opening, the library will be named The Richard and Gina Santori Public Library of Aurora after their namesake foundation donated $3 million to the library in December.

The $28 million main library is being built at the former Beacon-News lot, which the library purchased in 2009.

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