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Fountain's plant, a big investment in the future - holding the line in tough times

Fri, Jan 22nd, 2010
Posted in Progress Edition

Pictured is the interior of the new wastewater treatment plant in Fountain.

Fountain is the western gateway to the Root River State Trail, displaying a bicycle on its water tower and an antique bicycle over its town sign. Its other claim to fame is as the "sinkhole capital" of the United States. Fountain is also the home of the Fillmore County Historical Center, museum and library.

Among some of the long-time businesses that people in Fillmore County and surrounding counties associate with the city of Fountain is the furniture store, Drury's. Valley Design Enterprises, Inc. is the city's largest manufacturing business. Considering the small population in comparison to other nearby cities along highway 52, the city has quite a variety of active businesses. The relatively new restaurant, Los Gables, displays a sign encouraging passing traffic to "Come Heat Yourself Inside and Out."

This last year has been difficult economically. Growth has slowed around the state and across the country. According to Assistant Clerk Sharon Speer, Fountain has not seen growth in the past year. The city has not seen a new start up business and no new homes have been built. However, on the flip side, she maintained no businesses have shut their doors for the last time nor has the city lost population.

City Clerk Stan Speer said in a survey completed a few years ago, Fountain was found to be the fastest growing city in Fillmore County. He expects there will be shown to be a significant growth in the 2010 census over the last decade.

Sharon Speer explained up to this point Fountain has not been adversely affected by the loss of Local Government Aid because it has a population under 500.

The Speers have been clerking for and working with the city of Fountain for about four decades.

Wastewater Treatment Plant

Without a doubt the greatest project taken on by the city in 2009 is the building of the new wastewater treatment plant. The Fountain plant went into operation January 13. The city bonded for about $1,000,000 to pay for the plant and because the plans were "shovel ready" it was awarded $258,000 in stimulus money.

Sharon Speer agreed this is a large bond for a city the size of Fountain. The city was unsuccessful in getting any grant money from the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment, the three eights of a cent sales tax. Representative Greg Davids had made a pitch to get some of the grant money as a clean water project for the city. Thirty-three percent of the new sales tax is to be used on clean water projects.

Stan Speer explained, in the near term, each home will still use their septic tank for the solids. The city pumps the septic tanks within the city every few years. The plant is equipped to handle the solids but the city is not equipped with large enough pipes at this time to accommodate the solids. The plant was built to handle considerable growth in population. Eventually, over time as pipes are replaced or new larger pipes are added the plant will treat and handle most of the city's waste including the solids. Speer expects that will be over a long period of time.

The operation of the plant will be aided by Chatfield's Class A licensed operator, Darryl Haner. The agreement between the two cities should be beneficial for both. The effluent needs to be tested every day. The city of Fountain will pay for the Chatfield operator on an hourly basis.

Projects for 2010

Some updating of the city's Community Center has been underway. The office area used for meetings of senior citizens has been freshened up with new paint and flooring. In March the ceiling will be lowered in the front portion of the building to improve the acoustics.

A chain link fence will be installed in front of the dugouts by volunteers on the city's baseball field.

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