Council updated on projects during Monday night tour

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Benson Police Chief Ian Hodge gives members of the Benson City Council, city staff, and council candidates a tour of the new city police department. The city added on to the former Loen Electric building to create a facility with 5,357 square feet.

Police station to be ready in early November; cemetery expansion nearly complete
 

Benson City Council toured the new city police station during its Monday night meeting. This past February, the city agreed to buy the former Loen Electric building at the corner of Hall Avenue and 22nd Street South in southwest Benson.

The tour also took the council to the Heartland Girl’s Ranch where a new home is being built that will have room for 10 girls. It looked at the north end of the Civic Center that the Benson Public Schools is looking to rent for its gymnastics program as well as other programs and events.

Benson’s CNH currently leases the north end of the Civic Center. It had intended to be out by the end of the building by the start of October, but now it appears it won’t vacate later in November, City Manager Rob Wolfington said.

The city and school district are currently working on a lease agreement for use of the facility. The district is proposing to pay $35,000 annually for use of the 14,000 square foot space.

It drove down Pacific Avenue east (Gusty’s Road.) The city has applied for grant funds that could see the gravel road paved. The road’s soft bed can lead to it becoming deeply rutted and unsafe in the springtime. While the road generally doesn’t see heavy traffic, any time a train is blocking the three downtown crossings, it becomes bypass route with many cars speeding down it.

It looked at Church Street (Minnesota 29 south) as it heads out of Benson where the city intends to bury the power lines and take out the wooden poles out next year.

The council also drove down McKinney Avenue between 19th and 20th Streets South where a major sewer and water project, as well as road reconstruction, will take place if Swift County-Benson Health Services moves ahead with the construction of an assisted living and memory care facility this fall or early next year.

It looked at the northward expansion of the Benson City Cemetery that is nearing completion. In the spring of 2013, the Benson City Cemetery opened a new section that contained 60 gravesites. With between 15 to 20 gravesites sold each year, the section was expected to be full by 2016 to 2017. Today, many of those sites are gone. With the new expansion, the city is adding 120 new graves sites.

The city is hoping this expansion will give it another six to eight years, or until between 2022 and 2025, before there is no more land available. That time could be shorter as members of the Baby Boom generation, those born in the 1950s and 1960s, begin to die in larger numbers.

The city has also added an 80-niche octagonal columbarium just inside the south entrance to the cemetery on the left side. Each niche can hold two urns. Cremations have increased from less than eight percent of burials in the 1990s to over 36 percent today. It is a trend that is expected to continue to increase....

 

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Pictured:  Benson Police Chief Ian Hodge gives members of the Benson City Council, city staff, and council candidates a tour of the new city police department. The city added on to the former Loen Electric building to create a facility with 5,357 square feet.

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