News

Fri
09
Feb
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$695,600 okayed for Civic Center remodeling

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

 

At a special District 777 Board of Education meeting Thursday noon, a $695,600 north civic center renovation project was unanimously approved.

It will focus on creating a new space for the Benson High School gymnastics program to replace the cramped quarters it currently uses in the Benson Armory. Funds will come from a building account set aside earlier by the board.

There are also concerns the City of Benson will revisit its plans to convert the armory into a new city hall eliminating the gymnastics space. Last April, the council put those plans on hold as the price tag appeared it could near $1 million and as it worked on building a new police station. Still, it is an option that remains on the table.

Fri
02
Feb
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Swift County board weighs costs, needs for future building projects

As major renovations to the Swift County Courthouse and the Countryside Public Health buildings in Benson draw toward completion, the board of commissioners is looking at addressing the next phase of construction projects.

Those projects are aimed at meeting space and maintenance needs at the Human Services building, the Swift County Law Enforcement Center (LEC) and Jail, the county attorney’s office, the highway department, and the 6W Community Corrections office space in the basement of the LEC.

In July 2017, the county board approved a $5.105 million general obligation capital improvement plan bond sale to pay for renovations to the courthouse and the Countryside buildings. The new projects, which could be addressed in the coming years, would cost at least another $5 million.

Fri
02
Feb
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PUC issues order approving Benson Power closing

Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission’s issued an order Jan. 23 approving Xcel Energy’s purchase of Benson Power, LLC, ending the power purchase agreement that required it to buy the plant’s electricity through 2028, and shutting it down.

A 20-day process is now underway in which those opposed to the PUC’s decision ask it to reconsider its decision. If a request for reconsideration is filed, the PUC has 60 days to review the request and make a final decision.

“It affirmed exactly what the Legislature intended,” Benson City Manager Robert Wolfington said Monday of the PUC’s order. “Part of their intent was that their action be scrutinized by the PUC. The PUC scrutinized it, and they affirmed the Legislature’s intent.”

Fri
02
Feb
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Habben wins 34th annual Spelltacular Spelling Bee

Pictured are the participants of this year’s Spelltacular Spelling Bee, which took place Thursday night at the Northside Gym.  From left to right in front are Nick Bolduc, Jon Ilstrup, Hailee Ellingson, Amelia Hoffman, and Natalie Collins.  Second row -- Chaden Carroll, Jed Sherod, Taylor Duncan, Hunter LeClair, Blake Nagler, Eleanor Habben, and Katelyn Kobbermann.  Back -- Shukri Mohamed, Isabella Wolter, Azura Goodall, Kiara Schilling, Imani Brehmer, Olivia Kettner, and Kaitlyn Sondag.

Eighth-grader Eleanor Habben won the 34th annual Spelltacular Spelling Bee, which took place Thursday night in the Northside Elementary gym.  The daughter of Kentt and Emily Habben of Benson, she advances to the Regional Spelling Bee, set for Feb. 6 at Redwood Falls.  Placing second was Jed Sherod, the eighth-grade son of Jayson and Steph Sherod.  Twenty-six Benson 5th-8th graders qualified for the Spelltacular Spelling Bee, and 20 took part in the championship round, Thursday night.

Some of the final words used in this year’s competition were:  Chesapeake, segregation, defensiveness, vegetation, and hoarsely.  The local coordinator for the Spelling Bee is Cory Braaten, while this year’s pronouncer was Traci Pahl, and the judges were Kim Ulland, Rhonda Schwendemann, and Mary Weckwerth....

 

Fri
26
Jan
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City looks ahead to challenges, opportunities

Members of the Benson City Council and staff meet with representatives of the Swift County-Benson Health Services, Benson Public Schools and Swift County as they plan for the coming year’s challenges as well as look to what the future may bring. The meeting took place Saturday morning as part of the council’s annual planning retreat.

County, school and SCBHS give Benson council insight into what they face

 

Each year the Benson City Council takes a Friday evening and Saturday morning to sit down and do an informal working session about the issues facing the city today and in the future.

During its Saturday morning planning session, City Manager Rob Wolfington pointed out that Benson doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It has partners that it works with in a number of areas. He said Mayor Terri Collins suggested it would be a good idea to sit down with those partners and have each present an overview of their goals and objectives, and the challenges that lie ahead.

Joining the council for its working session were Swift County-Benson Health Services CEO Kurt Waldbillig, District 777 Supt. Dennis Laumeyer and Swift County Administrator Kelsey Baker.

Fri
26
Jan
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School needs input on building priorities

District is seeking volunteers for meetings that will start Monday to give input on the future building needs of Benson Public Schools.

Four committees are being formed consisting of school staff, landowners and farmers, business owners and community members at large.

“The Benson school board is seeking volunteers to serve on a school committee to analyze the school facilities,” the school board asks in a letter. “Each committee will work independently with the school architect and superintendent to analyze the current facilities and make a facilities improvement recommendation to the board.

“This is a grass roots effort where the community will help shape the direction of the district facilities by assisting the school board,” the letter says. “The school board is moving with maintenance projects as recommended by the Facilities Task Force so that focus will be on facility needs, beginning with the auditorium.”

Fri
26
Jan
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Swift County to provide police administration for Appleton

With the retirement of Appleton’s Police Chief Doug Moe Jan. 12, the city is now looking at the future of its local department.

For the short term, it is contracting with the Swift County Sheriff’s Office to provide administrative services. It will then be deciding what it wants to do for the long-term – contract for the county to provide services or continue to operate its own police department.

Prior to Moe retiring, the city had asked for a meeting with Sheriff John Holtz to discuss the options.

The priority at the end of the meeting was to come up with a short-term contract that extends through April 1, Holtz told the Swift County Board of Commissioners at their Jan. 16 meeting. The contract is for an interim chief’s position, which puts the sheriff’s office in

Fri
19
Jan
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Dangerous wind chills dominate the week

Five of the past seven days have seen windchills fall to the range of a minus 30 to 36 degrees - cold enough to cause frostbite to exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.

With the National Weather Service issuing a Wind Chill Warning for Monday, parents were bundling their children up with extra layers of cloths. Winds out of the north gusting to over 30 mph Monday morning combined with the temperature at minus 8 degrees for wind chill was a minus 36 degrees.

Four times in the past week, the National Weather Service has issued Wind Chill Warnings for western Minnesota. A Wind Chill Warning means the combination of very cold air and the wind will create dangerously low wind chill values. Exposed skin can freeze in minutes and even hypothermia or death can result if precautions are not taken. Bundle up if headed outside and make sure to have winter clothes with you if traveling, it warns.

So far this month, we’ve seen 12 of 16 days with below zero low temperatures. Just another two days below zero and we hit the average of 14 days below zero for January.

Fri
19
Jan
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2018 county levy set at $10.398 million

Swift County has raised its levy by 2 percent for 2018 to $10,398,870 – an increase of $203,899. That levy will provide nearly half the revenue for its operations this year with the budget calling for $21.16 million in expenditures.

While the levy is going up, county overall spending is going down by $3.472 million. That big drop in spending can be attributed to one area of county expenditures – highways.

In 2017, the county highway budget was $11.29 million with revenues coming in from federal and state sources to help pay for work on a 13-mile stretch of Swift County Road 6. The work was done east of Minnesota 29 south with the road getting a new cement surface. It is now the third road in the county surfaced with cement.

This year’s county highway budget is $7.11 million, $4.18 million less, with no major road construction projects scheduled.

Fri
19
Jan
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Minnesota Supreme Court to decide fate of CVEC-GPC suit

Many members in the bitter legal battle between two local cooperatives are hoping the Minnesota Supreme Court’s hearing of the case Jan. 3 between the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC) and Glacial Plains Cooperative will be the end of the road.

It could take several months before the Court’s opinion is released.

Since 2009, the case has gone from the Swift County 8th Judicial District courtroom in Benson, to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and now finally to the state’s highest court. At both the local and Court of Appeals Glacial Plains won. That has not deterred CVEC’s board from continuing to pursue its cause.

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