Fountain for the growth of sinking capital tourism

At the Aug. 3 meeting, the Fountain City Council received an update from Councilwoman Colleen Forenbacher on a plan to turn the city’s claim to fame as the “Sink Capital of the USA” into a tangible tourism aspect.

The US Geological Survey has mapped approximately 60 percent of the sinkholes in Fillmore County, and so it is estimated that there may be more than 10,000 sinkholes, according to the county’s geographic atlas. Most of them are in the Cheshmata region, due to the karst relief. Groundwater erodes soluble rock, leaving fissures, holes, and even entire cave systems. Sufficient erosion of the soil and soil above the sinkhole.

Working with Sarah Sturgis, executive director of the Fillmore County Historical Society, which operates the Fillmore County Museum, Forenbacher noted that visitors to the center often ask about the potholes. Although there is a Department of Natural Resources viewing area next to one large pothole along the Ruth River State Trail, there may be additional opportunities to promote the unique landscape.

Expanding this “sink tourism” would be eligible for various grants for things like signage, safety, and addressing mobility issues. “This could be a really cool field,” Forenbacher enthuses.

The city is also gearing up for the Fillmore County Relay Life, an American Cancer Society fundraiser. The annual countywide event is set for Aug. 19.

Events begin at 3pm with a survival tea. Activities begin at 4 p.m. The opening ceremony will begin at 6:00 p.m., followed by the walking tour, which ends at 11:30 p.m. The winding, light-lit route runs from City Park north on Cedar Street, west on First Street and east on County Road 8. Signs around town will direct attendees to events and activities.

“I feel really good that it’s a walking circuit,” said Forenbacher, who serves as an organizer. “It’s really coming together.”

There will be additional events at the community center. City Hall will host the silent auction where over 400 donated items will be available for bidding. All proceeds from the walk honoring survivors, caregivers and those lost to cancer go to the American Cancer Society for research, prevention, detection, education, patient support and support services for the organization .

The city will place roadblocks on the roundabouts at Cedar Street, First Street and Main Street. Cars must be off the road before 6:00 p.m. Organizers are looking for volunteers to help safely cross County Road 8 during the walk. They also need volunteers for the silent auction and activities during the event and pre-arranged. Setup is on Thursday evenings starting at 6:30pm and during the day on Fridays from 8am to early afternoon. Beaver Bottoms Saloon, Village Square and Branding Iron will be donating food for setup volunteers.

“It’s all coming,” added organizer/volunteer and top fundraiser Marilyn Schreier. “It’s generally coming together. Only two weeks left!”

“She’s nimble like you,” Counselor Ron Reisner nodded to Schreier and then to Forenbacher.

“She’s 10 times more than me,” Forenbacher replied. “She’s a rock star.”

Resident Barb Yetter was in attendance to discuss a problem she was having on her property at 201 Main Street. According to Yetter, a recent Fillmore County Pork Producers pork fundraiser kept the area around her home busy and blocked her driveway with traffic. “I couldn’t pull out of the driveway. People are going at each other and they’re really not polite,” she noted. “It’s a matter of safety.”

Mayor Jim Schott suggested that Yetter park his vehicle on Main Street during the event to avoid having to use the driveway. Yetter claims she shouldn’t have to and that she has discussed the issue with the pork producers organization. “I told them I would take it to the council and then the sheriff’s department if I had to,” she added.

This was the second year running the successful event. “They’re doing a good job, but I understand your concern,” Schott said. “For this one afternoon, if you just park it at the curb and leave it there until they’re done. It’s part of the nature of the event.

“I know it’s a good event and it brings people to town. I just had a terrible time,” Yeter replied.

The next regular meeting is on September 7, Wednesday, at 7 p.m. in the town hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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