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IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union to build in P-Town

Construction expected to start this summer

PROPHETSTOWN – IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union will be the first to build in the part of downtown Prophetstown where eight buildings were destroyed by fire in July 2013.

The bank already has a location in downtown Prophetstown, just south of where buildings were destroyed, and has been in the community for more than 10 years, said Dennis Hall, the company's president.

"When we learned of the devastating fire on Main Street, we were committed to helping the recovery efforts," Hall said in a news release.

Laura Ernzen, vice president of marketing, said talks with the city about putting a building there started a few weeks after the fire.

Prophetstown Mayor Steve Swanson said both the city and the bank came together for the early discussions, but it wasn't until "3 or 4 weeks ago" that he knew it would happen for sure.

"For me, it's a lot of hard work that has paid off – a lot of hard work," he said. "For the city, you know, you go to a lot of towns that don't even have a bank anymore ... let alone a new one. Everybody should be tickled to death. And I think 99.9 percent are."

Still, some Prophetstown residents are unhappy that a bank is the first to announce that it's buildling, Swanson said. Even if the city said it was building a money tree, he said, some people would disagree about what type of bills it should grow.

The new bank, which will be located in at least three lots on the south end, will be between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet, according to the news release, and will include a drive-up lane and 24-hour ATM.

Construction is expected to start this summer and finish late this year or early 2015.

The city started taking control of all the lots shortly after the fire, and currently controls all but one. The lots are being donated to developers as a way to entice them to build.

A ground-breaking ceremony will be held on July 15, during the town's 1-year fire anniversary memorial. No official plans have been set for the memorial activies.

The new bank was designed with the aesthetics of the historical downtown in mind, Ernzen said. The architect took photographs of the downtown and tried to incorporate the feel into the modern elements that will come along with a new building.

Eileen Detra, executive director of Prophetstown Main Street, said she's seen sketches of the proposed design and thinks the facade and the color will fit well with the rest downtown.

The bank will be a "nice asset" for the town and the downtown, she said.

"The amazing thing is what is happening in downtown, and it hasn't even been a year," Detra said. "We're hoping to get a restaurant, and we're hoping to get Cindy Jean's [Restaurant]. ... We have to sit back and wait."

The July 15 fire was started by two half-brothers in a recycling bin behind Cindy Jean's Restaurant. It then spread to other buildings.

The boys pleaded guilty to charges, and each was sentenced to 5 years of probation.

In January, Cindy Eriks, who owns Cindy Jean's, said she wanted to rebuild and return to downtown Prophetstown with an even bigger restaurant, but what she does will depend on her health.

Swanson said he's had discussions with another developer but doesn't feel it's too promising. But the mayor also said that he wasn't too optimistic when he started talks with IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union.

"I kind of get almost emotional at times," he said. "We've come a long way [as a town]."

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