News

Fri
03
Mar
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House, Senate pass Sunday liquor bill

Rep. Tim Miller votes no, Sen. Andrew Lang yes

With both the Minnesota House and Senate having voted to approve a bill that would end the 159-year-old ban on Sunday liquor sales in the state, the law is the closest it has ever been to passing.

A conference committee of the House and Senate now needs to meet to work out slight differences in language in the two bills. Members must agree on what time they will allow stores to open on Sundays. The Senate bill would let the stores open at 11 a.m. while the House version allows for a 10 a.m. opening. Stores would close at 6 p.m. under both bills. Local governments are also given more power to opt out of Sunday sales as well as set hours under the Senate bill.

The House can take up the Senate-passed bill and pass it to bypass the conference committee process. If a revised bill is approved, or the House supports the Senate bill, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has said that he will sign the legislation.

Fri
03
Mar
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Hospital votes to build assisted living facility

After more than two years of studying and debating how to move forward with building an assisted living and memory care facility, the Swift County-Benson Health Services governing board voted unanimously Monday night to move ahead with a project.

It is estimated the project will cost about $10.5 million and will be financed by revenue bonds. Those bonds will be paid off by hospital earnings and do not involve any general obligation bond backing from the City of Benson or Swift County.

The security for the revenue bonds will be the revenues earned by the hospital and its assisted living operation.

It is hoped that ground can be broken for the project by late July or early August.

Fri
03
Mar
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Day care discussions continue, but solution remains elusive

There are four options for adding day care for infants and toddlers to Benson Public Schools, Supt. Dennis Laumeyer told the board of education at its meeting Feb. 21.

It can build a new building, buy and renovate a current building in the community, lease a building, or remodel space it has in its buildings.

Adding six classrooms onto the west side of the Northside Elementary that would provide space for expanded day care classes would cost an estimated $3.2 million. However, another $2.1 million would need to be spent adding a new kitchen and cafeteria at the Northside. That cafeteria would free up the Northside’s gymnasium space, which is currently used for breakfast and lunch. It would also provide a multi-purpose community room that could be used for a variety of events.

The Running’s building, which used to house Do-Mat’s grocery store, could be leased for around $37,000 a year, but would require $500,000 in upgrade.

Fri
24
Feb
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CRM products featured in SF and LA

Floodstops manufactured by Custom Roto-Mold of Benson were deployed in the Mission District of San Francisco. Photo from Channel 7 KGO.

Two products made by Custom Roto-Mold (CRM) of Benson have been featured in two very different ways in the past couple months.

In San Francisco, utilities crews used plastic flood barriers made by CRM to help channel floodwaters away from homes and businesses at intersections prone to flooding.

In Los Angeles, CRM’s hockey dasher boards were used at the 2017 National Hockey League’s All-Star Games Fan Fair events in late January. Dasher boards are the boards that surround the hockey rink.

CRM is an international manufacturer of rotational molded plastics serving a wide variety of industries from agriculture, amusement, to child safety, construction, marine, and recreational markets. It has even made tow targets for the U.S. Navy....

 

Fri
24
Feb
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Senator Lang immersed in his work during his first Legislative session

District 17 state Sen. Andrew Lang stands at his desk in the Minnesota Senate chambers where he will be casting votes on everything from education funding, to taxes, to transportation projects, to buffer laws, and, maybe, the Appleton prison.
Minnesota’s Legislature convened Jan. 3 and must adjourn by May 22. Beween those dates, it has work to do on transportation, taxes, education, buffers, health care, and more.

Seven weeks into his first term as a Minnesota State Senator, Andrew Lang is learning that serving the needs on the District 17 constituents is far more than a part-time job.

His days at the state Capitol can easily be nearly non-stop for more than 12 hours. When he is back in the district, there are people who would like some of his time to talk about the issues that are important to them. There never seems like there is enough time to return all the calls that come in as quickly as he would like to.

District 17 includes Swift, Chippewa, Kandiyohi and Renville counties.

Despite the pressures of the job, and learning just how the Legislature works, Lang seems to be enjoying his time in St. Paul and has immersed himself in the process. He also finds himself with added duties as a member of the majority party in the Senate.

Fri
17
Feb
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Two February record highs broken

Monday looked and felt more like a day in early April than mid-February as the high hit a record 52 degrees.

DNR warns of thin ice developing on some lakes

When the high hit 57 degrees Friday, Feb. 10, it blew by the old record high of 47 degrees set in 1977 and 2010. Last year the high Feb. 10 was 16 degrees. Back in 2008, the high Feb. 10 was a minus 11 degrees.

Monday another record high was set when the temperature hit 52 degrees, topping the old record for Feb. 13 of 46 degrees reached both in 1967 and 2002. Last year the high Feb. 13 was 12 degrees and the low a minus 9 degrees. The coldest Feb. 13 high on record is 5 degrees in 1975.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is warning of thin ice on some lakes due to the unusually warm weather that has persisted since Jan. 17. Over the past 28 days, highs have averaged 34.1 degrees – that is nearly 13 degrees above average. Lows have been 20.2 degrees – nearly 17 degrees above average.

Fri
17
Feb
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County Board approves Baker contract 5-0

Though Swift County’s Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to hire Kelsey Baker as the new county administrator, they were unanimous last Tuesday in approving the contract for her employment.

Baker has agreed to a salary of $89,627. She will be provided the same group hospital, medical, dental, life and disability insurance benefits as provided to all other non-union employees. She is being paid a moving allowance of up to $1,000.

It is anticipated that Baker’s first day on the job will be March 27. She is to be given an initial performance review after six months and then every six months after.

Fri
17
Feb
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Miller keeps a hectic schedule as he represents his constituents in St. Paul

District 17A state Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, is serving his second two-year term in the Minnesota House. Swift County is part of his district. He is pictured above standing in the newly refurbished rotunda of the state Capitol.
Minnesota’s Capitol renovation is nearly complete. This photo is of the west end of the Capitol, which houses the governor and sectretary of state offices.

One thing you will notice when you walk into District 17A Rep. Tim Miller’s office in the State Office Building in St. Paul is that there is no desk. There are two small couches facing each other along the walls, a couple chairs, and a small high table.

There is no desk the Prinsburg Republican says because he is rarely in his office, and when he is, he is mostly meeting with constituents and lobbyists.

Miller was elected to his second two-year term in the Minnesota House last November defeating challenger and former state Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Rep. Andrew Falk.  District 17A includes Swift and Chippewa counties, most of Renville County, and the four southwestern Kandiyohi County townships of Edwards, Holland, Roseland and Lake Lillian.

Fri
10
Feb
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Immigrants are needed for rural Minnesota to grow

State demographer, U of M study both say immigration is key to population growth

As the national debate rages over President Donald Trump’s attempt to restrict immigrants coming to America from war torn Middle Eastern countries and as he works toward building a wall across the country’s southern border with Mexico, another report has been released showing Minnesota’s economic future is tied to welcoming immigrants.

The need for immigration to fill the growing demand for workers is no more pressing than in rural Minnesota, which has been steadily losing population for more than 50 years. Many rural counties today, including Swift County, have a population lower than it was in 1900.

Deaths outnumber births in rural Minnesota.

Outmigration of young people from rural areas to the big cities steadily bleeds away the future employment base.

Fri
10
Feb
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City buying Loen Electric building for new police headquarters

Benson’s Police Department will be getting a new home with the city council’s unanimous vote Monday night to purchase the Loen Electric building in the southwest corner of the city for $199,500.
While the purchase is effective Feb. 28 the city won’t be taking possession of the building until July 1.

Loen Electric will be moving its operations into a building on the south side of U.S. Highway 12 west. It is between the Swift County Development Achievement Center and the Historical Museum. It plans to do extensive remodeling of the new building prior to moving in.

In the coming months, the City of Benson will be developing a scope of work with architectural plans for converting the Loen building into its police headquarters.

Council Member Jack Evenson made the motion for the purchase with a second by Lucas Olson. Council Members Stephanie Heinzig and Terri Hawley joined Evenson and Olson, as well as Mayor Gary Landmark, in approving the purchase.

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