March 2019

Wed
06
Mar
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Banning Use Of Appleton Prison Wrong Approach

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

At one time, the 1,640-bed Prairie Correctional Facility (PCF) in Appleton employed 350 people from 24 surrounding counties and generated an estimated $15.2 million annually in economic vitality for the region.

But when client states that were providing prisoners to the privately owned CoreCivic facility ended their contracts, it shut down in February 2010. Though it has been sitting empty for nine years now, it is ready and waiting to once again house prisoners. CoreCivic has kept a minimal maintenance staff in place and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in its upkeep.

Fri
01
Mar
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Gymnasts frustrated with lack of action

Benson gymnasts, coaches, members of the visiting team, and spectators crowd along the cramped space of the Benson Armory for a gymnastics meet.

School board sympathizes, but says lack of funds and $26.3 building project a priority

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

A large contingent of Benson-Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg parents, coaches and gymnasts showed up at last Tuesday night’s District 777 Board of Education meeting seeking answers on when they will get a new facility.

“We were here months ago with our concerns after the option of using the civic center closed down,” Varsity Coach Kathy Ahrdnt said. “You promised that you would continue to work on it. We are here tonight to continue the discussion, to see where you are and to see if there is a timeline so we can move forward.”

The gymnastics program needs a safe place for its gymnasts to practice and compete, Ahrdnt said. The Benson Armory is too cramped to safely compete and practice, the school board has been told for several years.

Fri
01
Mar
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County landowners 93 percent compliant on buffer strips

Ditch buffer strips are meant to filter out sediments and pollutants before they enter the rivers, streams and lakes.

June 30 is SWCD’s ‘unofficial’ deadline for compliance

 

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Swift County landowners are now 93 percent compliant with the Minnesota buffer law, Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Manager Andy Albertson told county commissioners at their meeting Feb. 19.

State law required buffers of at least 30 feet wide, and an average of 50 feet wide, to be installed along the state’s public streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands by Nov. 1. Starting Nov. 1, 2018, 16.5-foot buffers must be installed on public ditches.

These buffers are intended to help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment that run off the land.

“There is a list that has been developed of landowners we haven’t heard from, or that we have heard from and we are waiting to follow up with to see if they were able to get their buffers seeded,” he said.

Fri
01
Mar
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5 teachers denied early retirement payments

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

 

It appeared to be a relatively routine action, but proved to be anything but that.

Five Benson Public School teachers had applied for early retirement and requested a $15,000 payment to go toward their health insurance.

The five were: Peggy Bausman, high school business teacher; Shelly Mikkelson, school choir instructor; Ruth Ahrndt, high school science teacher; Jon Ahrndt, elementary teacher; and Don Brehmer, high school trades class teacher.

Early retirement requests are governed by state statute rather than the teacher’s union master agreement, Supt. Dennis Laumeyer explained. The board had three choices with the requests. It could deny them, approve them, or counter offer with a lower amount. The requests for early retirement had to be submitted, or withdrawn, by Feb. 1.

Fri
01
Mar
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Hendrickx elected county board chair

With Commissioner Ed Pederson, District 2-south Benson and Benson Township, resigning as chair at the county board’s Feb. 5 meeting, the first order of business at the Feb. 19 meeting was electing a new one.

As the Feb. 5 meeting came to an end, Pederson expressed his displeasure with the county board’s 3-2 vote to proceed with a $162,000 study of a new justice center. He was adamantly opposed to the study.

Based on the vote, Pederson said he was not the person to be the face of Swift County as its board chair as it potentially moved to building a $17.45 million justice center that would house a new jail, the Swift County Sheriff’s Office, the Swift County attorney, 6W Community Corrections, human services, and Restorative Practices.

“Therefore, I will resign as board chairman effective at the end of this meeting today,” he said.

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