News

Fri
30
Mar
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Landowners cooperating with SWCD as it works with them on buffer law

Round one of the Minnesota buffer law is wrapping up as the Swift County Soil & Water Conservation District now works with landowners to implement phase two.

State law required buffers of at least 30 feet wide, and an average of 50 feet wide, to be installed along the state’s public streams, river, lakes, and wetlands by Nov. 1. Starting Nov. 1, 2018, 16.5-foot buffers must be installed on public ditches.

These buffers are intended to help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment that run off the land.

Last June the county board agreed to be the enforcement authority for the state buffer law allowing property owners to work with someone local rather than a state enforcement officer.

By agreeing to do the enforcement, the county is receiving $141,114 from the state for its expenses in 2017 and another $176,392 for 2018.

Fri
30
Mar
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PUC ruling clears the way for closing Benson Power

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

 

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) rejected the appeal petitions of suppliers to Benson Power, LLC, in a 4-0 ruling issued last Thursday in St. Paul.

That rejection begins the final phase of a year-long process that started in the Minnesota Legislature last March as Xcel Energy sought to end the state’s biomass mandate, buy Benson Power, and shut it down.

With the PUC deciding against hearing the appeals, its final decision will be published in about two weeks. Three days after publication, it is expected that Xcel will close on the purchase of the plant from its East Coast insurance company owners. The purchase date could be as soon as April 16.

Once under Xcel ownership, the plant will be shut down, and plans put in place for its demolition.

Fri
30
Mar
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School board looks at building security; safety measures

Every school district in Minnesota is re-examining its school safety measures and working on ways to improve them as the nation comes to grips with one tragic school shooting after another.

Benson Public School’s focus on school safety was heightened when a former student made threats against faculty and the community during a holiday basketball tournament in late December. That concern was raised again following the murder of 14 students and three faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, Feb. 14.

At its meeting March 19, the District 777 Board of Education discussed measures the Benson schools have taken to improve security. Currently, state legislation allows the school board to levy $36 per pupil under the Safe Schools program. That raises about $30,000, which goes toward the salary of a school resource officer.

Benson’s School Resource Officer Paula Wilson is currently going through ALICE training and learning how to train others.

Fri
30
Mar
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Scandi Haven Village groundbreaking set for April 4

Ground will be broken next Wednesday for construction of a new assisted living-memory care facility next to Swift County-Benson Health Services. It should be open for business by February 2019.

Swift County-Benson Health Services (SCBHS) will break ground Wednesday, April 4, at 10:30 a.m. for its new assisted living and memory care facility.

To be constructed just south of Scofield Place and east of the clinic and hospital, Scandi Haven Village will be a 46-unit assisted living facility with 18 units dedicated to memory care.

“Scandi describes the new facility’s style and function,” a description of how the name came about states. It refers to the Scandinavian design both inside and out. “It references the bright, clean-and-simple, Scandinavian style of the building’s interior. Haven was combined with Scandi to describe a place of refuge; a place to rest and relax. Village suggests that not only does it take a village to raise a child but that same village is responsible to take care for our aging family members who care for us.”

Fri
23
Mar
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County approves permit for 9,500-head dairy facility

Swift County has approved a conditional use permit for the construction of a 9,500 head dairy in Section 36 of Swenoda Township six miles south of Benson just to the west of Minnesota Highway 29 south.

There was no opposition to the permit approval at the county board’s March 6 meeting.

A few facts about the dairy:

Fri
23
Mar
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Possible option for Benson Power repurposing being explored by city

While it has been assumed that once Benson Power, LLC, shuts down in the coming months that it would then be prepared for demolition. Now there an alternate possibility for the site in the preliminary discussion stages.

The plan does not involve continuing to generate electricity. It also does not end the plans to deconstruct the generating capacity facilities and equipment at Benson Power.

What Brightmark Energy (BME) is considering is repurposing part of the facility for an anaerobic biomass gas producing operation, the Benson Economic Development Authority (EDA) was told at its meeting Monday morning.

BME is a San Francisco-based energy company that “develops, owns and operates energy projects.” Its president and CEO, Bob Powell, is a former chief financial officer of Pacific Gas & Electric, the nation’s largest electric utility business. He has over 25 years of experience in the energy field.

Fri
23
Mar
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County submits ‘Opportunity Zone’ proposals for Appleton, Benson areas

Swift County’s Rural Development Authority (RDA) submitted two tracts identified by the federal government as potential economic “Opportunity Zones” to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton for consideration earlier this month.

“Opportunity Zones are a new community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term investments in low-income and urban communities nationwide,” RDA Executive Director Jennifer Frost told county commissioners.

The zones encourage private sector investment in economic development projects by offering investors the possibility of greatly reduced capital gains taxes if they put their money to work in the Opportunity Zones.

In all, there were 509 tracts identified in Minnesota that were potential opportunity zones. However, they were split into two categories. There were 250 primary zones identified that were recognized having higher poverty and low income issues then the other 264.

Fri
23
Mar
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Spring arrives with more snow

Spring arrived Tuesday with more snow.

It wasn’t much, just a half-inch or so, but it brings our total winter season snowfall to nearly 36 inches. March has now seen 8.5 inches of snow, which is just slightly above its average of 8.43 inches.

During an average winter, the Benson area gets 40.68 inches of snow. With more snow in the forecast for Friday night into Saturday, we could be getting close to that average.

Much of the snowfall the Benson area has seen has come in just the last month. Until Feb. 19, we had received just 11.5 inches of snow. Since Feb. 20, we have picked up an additional 23.3 inches.

While spring arrived with another snowfall, at least the temperatures were relatively warm with the overnight low 27 degrees – 4 degrees above the average low for March 20 of 23 degrees. Our highs now average 41 degrees.

Fri
23
Mar
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Cub Scouts and Ducks Unlimited group combine forces for duck house build

Pictured are duck houses built during a recent get-together between members of the Benson Cub Scouts and Prairie Benson Ducks Unlimited Greenwings.  The kids got to keep a duck house (if they wanted) and the extra houses went to DU for use by their committee to continue with wildlife habitat preservation.

The Benson Cub Scouts and the Prairie Benson Ducks Unlimited Green-wings  got together recently for a duck house build project. This was a joint effort headed by Cub Master Jash Evans and DU Committee chair Brady Collins.  “We had parents help the kids build the duck houses at the ambulance garage in Benson, Sunday, March 11,” Evans said.  “The kids each got to keep a house and the extra houses went to DU for use by its committee to continue with wildlife habitat preservation.

“We would like to thank Hawley’s Inc, First Security Bank, Anderson Lumber, Swift County Monitor-News, E&M Electric, Collins Lawn Service, Grossman and Trump, Abner Sales, Swift County Real Estate, KMH Sales, Mike’s Guns, Darold’s SuperValu, Swift County Abstract and Title, Custom Roto Mold, Breen’s Pharmacy and Country Pet for their donations to help make this project possible, and for helping these kids learn and grow.”

 

Fri
16
Mar
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Students airlifted after horrific crash involving van and semi, Monday

The Swift County Sheriff says there are no fatalities “as of right now” in a crash involving a school van and a semi in western Minnesota. The Swift County Sheriff’s Office says seven students and a van driver were injured in the crash at the intersection of 30th Street NW and 130th Avenue NW, about 12 miles south of Hancock.

Swift County Sheriff John Holtz said in a news conference Monday night that the Hancock Public School transport van was headed southbound and the semi was headed eastbound when they collided in a “T-bone-style crash.” He said the van may have had a yield sign, and the semi did not have a stop sign. “As of right now, there are no fatalities,” he said just before 9 p.m. Monday.

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