News

Fri
18
May
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School to seek approval of $26.3 million building bond

Levy request to be on August 14 ballot

With a unanimous vote Monday night, the District 777 Board of Education approved going to the voters Aug. 14 for a $26.3 million building bond levy.

Key features of the proposed project include construction of new classrooms at the Northside Elementary School to house a centralize day care and pre-kindergarten program, the construction of a new performing arts center, and renovating the Senior High School to meet 21st Century collaborative education design needs.

Another key aspect of the proposed facilities is that they would give Benson Public Schools the ability to compete with neighboring school districts for students, Supt. Dennis Laumeyer said. Currently, Benson loses kids to surrounding school districts with the condition of the school’s aged facilities among the reasons for students leaving.

Fri
18
May
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City keeps wary on Minnesota Legislature

In the last days of its 2017 session, Minnesota’s Legislature passed the Omnibus Jobs & Energy bill including language that would see the City of Benson paid $20 million for economic development to compensate for the loss of Benson Power, LLC.

Though the payments were written into legislation passed by the Republican-controlled state House and Senate, and signed by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, nothing is written in stone and can be undone by succeeding Legislatures.

That is the reason Benson City Manager Rob Wolfington has been making frequent trips to St. Paul to monitor legislation that could have an impact on the city’s promised compensation. Benson’s first $4 million payment is scheduled to come by June 30 this year with $6 million payments coming in both June 2019 and June 2020. A final $3 million payment is to be made in June 2021.

Fri
18
May
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Public office filings open next Tuesday

Tuesday filings open for those interested in seeking election to local, state and federal offices in Minnesota.

Filings for one Benson City Council seat, four District 777 Board of Education seats, two Swift County Board of Commissioners seats, the county treasurer, sheriff and attorney, all open Tuesday, May 22 and close at the end of the business day Tuesday, June 5.

Filings for state and federal offices also open May 22....

 

For more on this story, and to keep up on all the latest news, subscribe to the Swift County Monitor-News print edition or our PDF internet edition. Call 320-843-4111 and you can get all the local news and sports delivered to you!
 

Fri
18
May
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Farmers pushing to get crops planted

At 40-percent complete Sunday, corn planting in Minnesota was eight days behind the five-year average. However, farmers were making rapid progress prior to Monday afternoon’s rainfall and will be back in the fields as clear skies dry out the fields.

Despite it seeming like there wasn’t a lot of farm equipment in area fields over the past few days, farmers were making progress after delays caused by lingering frost, wet fields and cold soils.

Corn planting was 40 percent completed, five days behind last year and eight days behind average, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service report released Monday.  There were a few reports of corn emerging in the southern half of the state.

Last year at this time, 77 percent of the corn crop was planted with the five-year average for corn planting progress for May 13 65 percent.

Soybeans were 11 percent planted, four days behind last year and nine days behind average. As of May 13 last year, 41 percent of the soybean crop was planted. The five-year average for the date is 37 percent.

Fri
04
May
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Wet fields continue to delay planting

April ended with the warmest high of the spring when it hit 80 degrees, but the month’s legacy of very cold temperatures and near record snowfall has farmers waiting to get into their fields.

“Cool temperatures, muddy fields, and frost in the ground have delayed planting of spring crops,” according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service report released Monday.

“Snow has melted in most fields with frost still working its way out of the ground. Farmers that were able to work in the fields were busy with field preparation, spreading fertilizer, rock picking and planting,” the service reported.

April 2018 went down in the record books as the coldest for the area with a mean temperature of 34.6 degrees – nearly 11 degrees below average. Low temperatures for the month averaged 23.6 degrees, 10.5 degrees below their average of 34.1 degrees, ensuring the frost was very slow to leave the ground.

Fri
04
May
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Sonsteng gift paying dividends throughout community

Robert Sonsteng

Applications being sought for $26,000 in grants

When Robert C. Sonsteng left an estate worth nearly $10 million to the community his gift was called “transformational.” It is already living up to that billing through foundation grants awarded in the past year.

Sonsteng, a bachelor farmer who lived northeast of Benson in Langhei Township, died Sept. 21, 2014, at the age of 81. From the cash assets of his estate, $2 million was used to establish the Robert C. Sonsteng Foundation.

Another $1 million was given to the Southwest Minnesota Initiative Fund with investment earnings to come back to the Benson Area Community Foundation. An additional $500,000 was invested with Thrivent.

Last month, the Sonsteng Foundation donated $25,000 to the Benson Public School’s Discovery Kids program. It provides day care for children 33 months to sixth grade.

Fri
04
May
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Benson Power suppliers still hoping for help

While a bill in the Minnesota Legislature to provide financial compensation to fuel suppliers and haulers of Benson Power, LLC, has made it through committee hearings and now awaits approval on the Senate floor, a similar bill in the House is making little headway.

Sponsored by District 17 Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, the Senate bill sets aside $40 million for companies that have invested in supplying the Benson-based biomass power plant with turkey litter and wood chips.

However, after introduction by Rep. Tim Miller, District 17A-Prinsburg, March 21 the House version of the bill has failed to get a hearing. There was an informational meeting in the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee Monday, but no action was taken on the bill.

Fri
20
Apr
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Bensons looks to annex 240 acres of Torning Township

The City of Benson has reached a preliminary agreement with Torning Township for the annexation of 240 acres of land south of town and on the east side of Minnesota Highway 29.

While discussions have taken place with Torning Township about the annexation, its board has yet to approve the agreement. It could be taking action in the next two weeks.

The land, owned by Alyn and Diane Sylte, has been discussed for the site of a cheese plant should that economic development project become a reality. There has been no word from any sources on whether or not the cheese plant is being discussed for the area. However, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic development has been working with an entity that is looking for a site for a cheese plant in the state.

Fri
20
Apr
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Conferences give Benson business development leads

For the past eight years representatives of the City of Benson have attended the annul International Biomass Conference & Expo conducted at cities around the United States. This year the conference is in Atlanta.

Benson’s council saw attending the event, where it shared a booth with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), as a way to potentially capitalize on the Benson Power, LLC, biomass electric generation plant through attracting additional biomass industries to the community.

However, with Benson Power now shutting down and the possibility of a cheese plant coming to the community, City Manager Rob Wolfington suggested that the city instead focus its efforts on attending this year’s American Dairy Products Institute and American Butter Institute’s 2018 Annual Conference April 29 to May 1 in Chicago.

Fri
20
Apr
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First half of April coldest on record

Benson plows were clearing city streets Sunday.
With more than 7 inches of snow and ice over the weekend, and 17 inches of snow this month, Benson High School spring sports are on hold.

For a while Friday evening it appeared the area had missed the big snowfall that was predicted to come with the weekend blizzard. After some freezing rain, ice pellets and snow late Friday afternoon the precipitation stopped. But the spring snowstorm was just getting started.

“A significant winter storm will develop this afternoon and continue through Saturday night. All precipitation types, strong winds, and blizzard conditions will occur in this winter storm,” the National Weather Service forecast.  “A Blizzard Warning is in effect tonight through Saturday evening for west central and south central Minnesota.”

The NWS forecast was showing a 75 percent of the area getting between 9 to 11 inches of snow.

Though Friday night’s accumulation was small, Saturday it snowed all day with the Benson area getting close to 7 inches. However, the area missed the worst of the storm as it slid south.

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