News

Fri
05
May
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Benson commits $10,000 annually toward daycare

Benson’s City Council agreed Monday night to commit up to $10,000 annually to support the daycare center for infants and toddlers being established by Benson Public Schools.

Supt. Dennis Laumeyer told the council that the District 777 Board of Education voted to submit an application to the State of Minnesota requesting permission to provide daycare for 16 infants and 28 toddlers. It has also agreed to subsidize the cost of the operation by up to $10,000 annually if it experiences a loss on the operation, he said.

It is not the intent of the school board to run the daycare at a loss, Laumeyer said, but the first year of operations will have upfront capital costs for equipment that could total around $50,000. It will also have costs associated with remodeling facilities to provide for the daycare operation that it plans to locate in the basement of the Junior High School.

Wed
03
May
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NSP agrees to pay city nearly $23 million in compensation for losing power plant

Fibrominn, now Benson Power, LLC, under construction in 2006. The plant would shut in the summer of 2018 if NSP/Xcel Energy buys it from investors.

By Reed Anfinson

Publisher

Swift County Monitor-News

Monday night the Benson City Council unanimously agreed to back Northern States Power’s (NSP) efforts to buy and likely close the Benson Power, LLC, electric generation plant in exchange for compensation that could total more than $23 million.

NSP is the parent corporation of Xcel Energy.

A substantial portion of that compensation could come in the form of $20 million for economic development efforts in the city to help it replace the jobs and economic vitality it would lose if the plant were closed. There would be four payments made to the city between 2018 and 2021.

Back when it was being planned and built in the early 2000s, Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) estimated the plant would provide an annual economic boost to the area of $8 to $10 million.

Fri
28
Apr
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County hurting for STS workers

Through the years Swift County Environmental Services has used people serving time in the county’s Law Enforcement Center jail to help sort recyclables and other waste.

Working under the state’s Sentence to Service (STS) program, the inmates can work time off their jail time and earn money to pay off fines. In return, the county gets relatively cheap labor.

Offenders in the STS program can work off fines at the rate of $8 an hour for their labor and get one day off their sentence for every 16 hours worked. The fines get paid first, then the time gets reduced.

But now the recyclables are piling up and the facility is falling behind on other necessary work, Environmental Services Director Scott Collins told the county board of commissioners at their meeting April 18 due to a lack of STS workers. There hasn’t been a single STS worker at the facility so far this year, he said.

Fri
28
Apr
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County preparing for move to Lewis Drug

Swift County offices based in the courthouse will be moving to the Lewis Drug building on Atlantic Avenue downtown Benson the week of June 26-30. The move takes place ahead of a $4.5 million renovation of the courthouse that could last into early 2018.

The move will include 30 staff people working in the Swift County Land Records, Auditor, Assessor, Administrator, Emergency Management, Treasurer, Veteran Services, Extension, Housing & Redevelopment Authority, Information Technology, and Rural Development Authority’s (RDA) offices.

Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Dave Mennis and court staff will be moving to space in the basement of the Swift County Law Enforcement Center.

Fri
28
Apr
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Hospital receives $500,000 RSF grant

In what should become the first of many significant grants awarded in the community in the coming years by the Robert Sonsteng Foundation, Swift County-Benson Health Services will be receiving $500,000.

The grant, which will be given out in $50,000 increments over the next 10 years, was announced at the hospital’s governing board meeting Monday night. The grant funds will go toward the hospital’s assisted living and memory care facility with construction on the facility likely starting this summer.

Robert Sonsteng was a bachelor farmer who lived on a farm just over the Swift County line north of Benson in Pope County. He attended Benson Public Schools, and after serving in the military, returned home to farm with his brother and parents. After his parents passed away, Murien and Robert Sonsteng continued to live in the family home, neither ever having married. Upon Murien’s death, Robert Sonsteng lived on his own on the family homestead.

Wed
26
Apr
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Benson Power could be closing by summer of 2018

Employees of Benson Power have been told employees they plan to sell to Xcel Energy and that the plant could be closed by the summer of 2018.

By Reed Anfinson

Publisher

Swift County Monitor-News

Employees of Benson Power, LLC, were notified Tuesday that the company owners are in negotiations with Xcel Energy for sale of the plant.

With that announcement a process is being put in place that could lead to the power plant shutting down by the summer of 2018. Its shutdown would mean the loss of 45 jobs at the plant as well as up to another 100 jobs at businesses that support the operation of the biomass facility.

Benson Power generates 55 megawatts of power by burning turkey litter and wood chips to generate steam that powers the plant’s turbines.

Benson Power is currently owned by a group of East Coast investors including major insurance companies Prudential, Hartford, John Hancock, Nationwide, Beneficial, and CRT Capitol Group.

Fri
21
Apr
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Large city roads project gets underway in May

Starting in May and lasting into the late summer the City of Benson will see significant street and sidewalk work affecting vehicle traffic flow, pedestrian walkways, and parking availability – especially in the north half of the city’s downtown.

A comprehensive road and sidewalk project will affect all three highways that go through the community – Minnesota Highway 29, Minnesota Highway 9 and U.S. Highway 12.

Construction on Benson’s roads and sidewalks will take place in two phases. First, starting in the first half of May, work will begin on the sidewalk upgrades to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.)

Fri
21
Apr
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Benson’s assessed value increases by nearly $1.5 million

Each April the City of Benson’s Board of Equalization (the city council) conducts a public hearing at which property owners in Benson can come and talk about their taxes.

Swift County Assessor Wayne Knutson and Swift County Appraiser Darla Schwendemann spent the good part of the afternoon and early evening in the city council chambers prepared to go over assessments with homeowners and business owners. The city council sets aside an hour to hear complaints or appeals along with recommendations on any changes from Knutson and Schwendemann.

But at Monday night’s meeting no one showed up. With a light agenda, the council meeting got underway with the opening of the public hearing and then proceeded on to other business. That took just over 20 minutes. So for the next 40 minutes the council was required to stick around until the published time of 6:30 p.m. for end of the public hearing arrived.

Fri
21
Apr
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They’re back . . . BHS choir students return from 6-day trip to New York City

Pictured are members of the Benson High School choir, who took part in last week’s six-day choir trip to New York City.

Pictured are members of the Benson High School choir, who took part in last week’s six-day choir trip to New York City.  Immediately after waving goodbye in the picture above, the students boarded buses at about noon, Friday, April 7.  They didn’t return again until 5 p.m., Wednesday, April 12.  Over 70 students, and nine adult chaperones took part in the trip.  “The entire trip was a success and so people many contributed to its success; the students, the chaperones, the tour guides, and the bus drivers,” BHS choir director Shelly Mikkelson said.  “Highlights included the Empire State Building, Central Park, a Broadway workshop and Broadway musical, “Come From Away”, the 911 Memorial, Radio City Music Hall, and the Spirit Dinner Cruise.”

 

Did you know the Swift County Monitor-News prints photos like this one?

Give us the date, page and subject of the photo and we will print it on archival quality photo paper. Makes a great gift!


Fri
14
Apr
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A mild winter means ice goes off Minnesota’s lakes early

Warmer than average temperatures throughout the month of March meant some early ice-out dates on area lakes. The ice on Lake Minnewaska officially was off March 30, 16 days ahead of the average ice off date of April 15.

Artichoke Lake at Swift County’s western border went off April 1, seven days ahead of the average ice off date of April 8. Norway Lake in Kandiyohi County saw the ice go off March 24, 15 days earlier than the average of April 8.

Early ice out dates in the state are the result of a very mild winter. The January to March period saw temperatures 7.5 degrees above average.

February 2017 went down as the second warmest on record for the Benson area and one of the warmest in the history of the State of Minnesota. Five record high temperatures were broken during the month and three high low temperatures were either tied or broken....

 

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