News

Tue
24
Mar
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Rail tax plan aimed at improving safety

If a proposal by Gov. Mark Dayton to put an additional tax on railroads is passed Swift County could receive nearly $123,000 annually to address crossings safety issues.
The City of Benson would receive more than $27,000 each year while Appleton would get $35,472.  In all, Swift County’s eight towns would receive $91,437 a year to improve the safety at crossings in their communities.
In all, Dayton’s proposal would spend $330 million over the next 10 years to provide safer rail crossings. He is also recommending $3.1 in funding for a new training facility at Camp Ripley to provide hands on training for emergency managers and first responders regarding oil train derailments and other hazardous material spills.

Tue
24
Mar
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Snow delays spring; lessens fire threat

After seeing a stretch of nine days in the middle of March where high temperatures averaged nearly 60 degrees, including a high of 73 degrees March 15, it seemed the area was well on its way into spring. But winter has made a return visit.
Four inches of snow fell Sunday covering ground that had been snow free since March 8.
More snow was forecast to fall Tuesday into Wednesday though how much the area will get depends on how warm it is when the precipitation falls. Highs are forecast to be around 40 Tuesday and Wednesday, which means some of the precipitation could come as rain.
March is the snowiest month of the year averaging 8.55 inches. It has the record for the most snow in any single month of the year with 37.2 inches in 1965.

Photo:  The Heike family in Benson hated wasting "perfectly good snow" today and expressed their un-spring-like sentiments in an upside down snowman.

Tue
24
Mar
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Waldbillig hired as new chief executive officer of Swift County-Benson Hospital

Kurt Waldbillig has been hired as the new chief executive officer of Swift County-Benson Hospital following a nationwide search.
While his hiring was approved by the hospital’s governing board, Waldbillig is an employee of Rice Memorial Hospital working for SCBH through a management contract.
Waldbillig takes over for Frank Lawatsch who served as the hospital’s CEO from August 1997 to February this year.
As the search for Lawatsch’s replacement started over 90 applicants submitted their resumes. That number was pared down to eight with those candidates reviewed by the hospital governing board’s search committee. Five of the candidates were brought to Benson for on-site interviews with three selected for second interviews with Waldbillig eventually offered the job. Waldbillig’s first day on the job was Monday.

Wed
18
Mar
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A controversial tree comes down; golf course gets cleaning done

Volunteers worked raking and picking up debris on the Benson Golf Course Sunday to help get it ready to open later that afternoon. The debris was from extensive tree removal and trimming done on the course this past winter. The tree removal and trimming was paid for by the club and its members.

The photo shows an ash tree that frustrated golfers playing hole Number 7 for decades. Its trunk and canopy sat nearly in the middle of the fairway. This past winter the tree came down, opening up the second shot for golfers on this par 5 hole. Some felt the tree should have stayed while others are overjoyed to see it gone.

Wed
18
Mar
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City transfers its Fibrominn consent agreement to CPV

Monday Benson’s City Council unanimously passed a resolution that would transfer all its operating agreements with Fibrominn to Competitive Power Ventures (CPV).
For the past couple years, Fibrominn has been operated as a subsidiary of Contour Global. However, after the company was placed in receivership, Contour Global asked to transfer all of Fibrominn’s assets to CPV.
“Contour Global’s subsidiaries PowerMinn and FibroMinn, which operate the facility, are in receivership ‘as a result of a breach of contract and default under certain note agreements to the facility,’ according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) document,” Infrastructure Journal and Project Finance Magazine reported.
“The companies are aiming to close the transaction by the end of March 2015, after they receive authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” the magazine said.
Under CPV, Fibrominn will become Benson Power.

Wed
11
Mar
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St. Patrick’s Day Parade Saturday

During 61 degree weather the annual St. Patrick's Day festivities were held Saturday in downtown Benson.

Many clans were represented and Irish flags and floats were seen in the afternoon parade.

Butch and Cathy Berens were the masters of ceremonies for this year’s parade.

Photo:  Julie Urke and her pet friend enjoyed the parade and the sunshine, hence the sunglasses.

Wed
11
Mar
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Avian flu claims 44,000 turkeys

Editor’s note: Associated Press writer Kia Farhang provided information for this story. The Swift County Monitor-News conducted the interview with Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson.

Wed
04
Mar
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Blood drive has large turnout

The BHS National Honor Society hosted a Red Cross blood drive last Wednesday in the auxiliary gym.  Over 100 units of blood were collected during the blood drive.  BHS has annually hosted a blood drive in the fall (sponsored by Student Council) and one in the spring (hosted by NHS).

Photo:  Teachers, students and the public gave blood at the school blood drive hosted by the National Honor Society.

Wed
04
Mar
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City budgets $32,000 for next phase of rail crossing project

The City of Benson is taking the next step in developing a plan to address public safety concerns and traffic congestion issues caused by trains traveling through the city, especially when those trains block the three downtown railroad crossings for extended periods.
To give it a professional assessment of the options for addressing the problems, the city council last year retained Stantec Consulting Services, Inc., a Twin Cities engineering firm. In February, Stantec presented its findings outlining a series of steps Benson could take to improve traffic flow as well as address pedestrian and vehicle traffic safety. The bill for those measures could cost up to $2 million to implement.

Wed
04
Mar
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Area residents air concerns about property taxes

Nearly 40 people showed up at the Swift County Law Enforcement Center meeting room Saturday afternoon to tell legislators what they thought about local property taxes.
Clearly most of those at the meeting with questions for the legislators were farmers who have seen their property taxes soar along with the value of their land. Some asked if the Legislature could look more at valuing land based on the value of what it produced rather than on what it sold for.
Legislators had no definitive answers for farmers concerned about property taxes. They did say a piece of legislation has been introduced that would help lower real estate taxes for businesses.

Swift County Ag Land’s Share of Taxes

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