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A group of approximately 10 citizens recently heard updates from Forest City Mayor Barney Ruiter, along with city administrator Barb Smith and Forest City Police Chief Tom Montgomery.

The updates were given on Saturday, March 23, during a Mayor Meet and Greet at the YMCA.

Main topics of discussion were the solar farm, city businesses and the city emergency plan. 

Butter Solar

Butter Solar is a private energy company out of Wisconsin building small solar farms in the area. The company is building a road to where the solar farm will be located behind Forest Plaza, according to Smith.

Smith said the hopes to generate approximately 3.5 megawatts of power each month, with city purchasing power first before purchasing power from Dairyland, the city's current power provider.

“The city has nothing to do with it except for buying the power from them, which is going to be just slightly under what we’re buying the power from Dairyland,” Smith said.

Ruiter said this will provide big savings for the city in the future. Butter Solar will also be paying taxes to the city.

City businesses

Smith also said Kwik Star plans to break ground on utilities in July and to install gas tanks in August.

Economic development is recruiting a hotel where the Village Chateau was, and hopefully in a year there will be a new hotel on the north side of town, according to Smith. The hotel will be owned by private investors, not the city.

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Norma Hertzer of Forest City Economic Development said a new restaurant, The Iowan, will be opening up in May in the old Hardee’s building. The Iowan will serve American food. The owner also operates The Main Street Pizza in Lake Mills.

Smith said the owner of the Shopko building stated two businesses werre interested in moving in once Shopko closes – one is an existing business in Forest City and one is from out of town – but she was unable to give more information.

Beth Bilyeu, executive director of Forest City Economic Development, is searching for an interested individual in opening a clothing store or recruiting someone from another town who has an existing store to open one in Forest City, according to Smith.

“We realize once Shopko’s done, we need the small appliances, the clothing, those types of things,” Smith said.

Smith said the Hallmark Store, which is also closing, would be an ideal place for a clothing store, but the price for the space is too high for people.

City emergency plan

Ruiter said the plan came in handy during the empty water towers emergency, which prompted the recent boil order.

“A lot of things went wrong, but a lot of things went right too,” he said.

The leftover water from the bottled water distribution during the boil order went to Hamburg, which has recently experienced severe flooding.

Ruiter said the plan will be revised after the water tower situation, but “it was really good to have, that’s for sure.”

One of the changes include putting red plaques with “411” or “410” on every apartment complex in the fire district, listing how many apartments are on the second, first and basement floors, respectively, so firemen know where the apartments are in the buildings.

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