Opinions

Tue
26
Mar
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State Must Give Rural Children Equal Education

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

It’s a painful process for the District 777 Board of Education and the school administrative staff as they are forced to go through as they sit down to consider where they are going to cut hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending. What programs will be eliminated? Who are the teachers that will be put on unrequested leave? Should we have the kids in gym classes and sports bring their own towels to school? Should fees be raised or added to cover the costs of participating in activities?

This time around the school board is looking at making cuts to its general fund to address a projected deficit of $631,900 in the 2019-2020 school year. The deficit is due to declining enrollment in Benson schools, a lack of state funding, federal mandates without the financial help to pay for them, and inflation.

Wed
13
Mar
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Are We In Danger Of Losing ‘Sunshine?’

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

Whether it is the Swift County Board of Commissioners discussing building a new justice center, the Benson High School gymnastics team seeking a new place to practice and perform, the City of Benson discussing future economic development plans and how it will spend the $20 million coming to it from Xcel Energy over four years, there is one primary source that keeps the public informed – the Swift County Monitor-News.

Imagine if we weren’t here.

How would you be informed? How much information would the gatekeepers of government discussion and debate let you hear about? How easy would it be to get the documents that underlie the decisions elected leaders make?

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.

Tue
26
Feb
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Out of Sight, Out of Mind

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

Fruit often ends up rotting in the crisper drawer. Well, that's the wrong place to put it. Out of sight, out of mind. The kids all know where the junk-food shelf is. Make the fruit that easy to get to. Put a big huge bowl of fruit on the counter.
Tyler Florence

There is a reason L.L. Bean sends a catalog in the mail with a planned persistence. It recognizes that if it stops sending magazines, and just relies on emails or its website to try to get you to shop with them, you’ll soon forget they are around.

Eddie Bauer, Cabelas, J. Crew, and other retailers will then dominate the market, and L.L. Bean would fade from our awareness despite the numerous emails they send among the flood of emails you already get.

Wed
20
Feb
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A Pivotal Point In Benson’s Future

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

There are times when elected officials can govern on cruise control. The administrative staff has things well in hand, and there are no significant challenges on the horizon. This isn’t one of those times. This is a time that demands engagement as well as open minds and innovative thinking. It is a time for breaking out of comfort zones. It is time for risks.

Municipal governments have as their core function providing essential services to citizens: law enforcement to protect citizens and their property; fire protection; an ambulance or rescue squad; good water; smooth roads; reliable electrical service; and a sanitary sewer system.

Beyond ensuring these services run smoothly elected officials like to be seen as frugal with the public’s money.

Pressing challenges ahead

Benson has significant opportunity and significant challenges ahead.

Tue
12
Feb
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Listen, But Don’t Abdicate Responsibility

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

It was an imposing crowd for a public meeting in Swift County. Nearly 90 people packed into the commissioners’ meeting room in the basement of the Law Enforcement Center with some people standing in the hallway.

It was the goal of those at the Feb. 5 meeting to impress upon commissioners that the “will of the people” was set against the construction of a new justice center. It was the “will of the people” that they are included in new meetings to study the best solutions and costs for any new facility. It was a crowd full of righteous outrage.

Citizens angry with elected leaders who don’t follow their wishes when they show up in a crowd, or who let them know in face-to-face conversations that they aren’t happy with their decisions, is nothing new. Such confrontations have been going as long as citizens have elected fellow citizens to represent them on public bodies.

Wed
06
Feb
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Winter’s Voice Hard When Below Zero Temps Reign

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

The voices of Winter

Winter’s frigid voice is hard when the temperature falls far below zero.

Before one even ventures out the door, leaving the morning warmth of home, the bitter cold announces itself in the long brittle crunching of a vehicle’s black tread stepping heavily on yesterday’s now spiky slush.

It is broadcast in the crack of the cold-stiffened wooden step that seems to fracture in protest against the weight it now bears as a bundled figure steps out the door.

It is heard in the crunch of a boot on Arctic snow, the boom of cracking ice on the lake, the scrape of a shovel on concrete, the tightening of the timbers in the home, and the whine of a cold engine starting.

Wed
30
Jan
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Should Election Day Be A Federal Holiday?

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

There is a national movement to make Election Day in America a national holiday. It isn’t a new movement, but it is getting new attention today. It has been proposed in Congress at least three previous times - 2001, 2002 and 2005 – with nothing coming of it.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, is changing that. She is the young woman who defeated long-time, powerful incumbent Democrat Rep. Joseph Crowley in a primary election last year and went on to win a seat in Congress. She supports making Election Day and taking away Columbus Day so as not to increase the number of federal holidays on the books.

Tue
22
Jan
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Consequential Decision Before County Board

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

Swift County’s Board of Commissioners is about to make a historic decision that will have far-reaching and long-lasting impacts on everything from our tax bills, to the aesthetic beauty of the historic courthouse, to future operational costs for law enforcement, to the potential economic future of the City of Benson.

Commissioners plan on voting at their Feb. 5 meeting on whether or not to construct a $17.475 million justice center that will house the Swift County Sheriff’s Office and jail operations; 6W Community Corrections; Swift County Human Services; the Swift County Attorney’s Office; and Restorative Practices.

Of that total, $11.94 million is for a justice center and $5.925 million for the human services operation. Another $390,000 represents the cost of issuing the bonds. With interest charges over the life of the bonds, however, the price is closer to $30 million.

Wed
16
Jan
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Pass A Hands-Free Cell Phone Law

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

It isn’t easy finding legislation on which Democrats and Republicans agree without intense public bickering and private negotiating leading to an agreement in the last minutes of a Minnesota legislative session. However, we might be seeing bipartisan agreement develop on a bill that is essential to public safety early in the current session.

A Republican state senator has already introduced a bill to address distracted driving with the requirement for hands-free-only cell phone use. A Democratic Minnesota House member is planning on introducing similar legislation in the coming week.

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