News

Fri
01
Sep
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Madden resigns school board seat leaving vacancy

District 777 Board of Education Member Jason Madden has resigned from the school board because he has accepted a position with the school district.

He will be a full-time study hall monitor for grades seven through 12. By state law a school board member can’t earn more than $8,000 a year working for that school district, Supt. Dennis Laumeyer told the board of education at its Aug. 21 meeting.

With Madden’s term not running out until Dec. 31, 2018, the seven-member school board has a couple options for addressing the vacancy, he told the board.

Because it is less than 90 days until the next general election date of Nov. 7, a special election is not possible due to deadlines that have already passed.
The board has a “reasonable amount of time” to fill the vacancy by appointment, Laumeyer said. Once a person is appointed, the person has to wait 30 days to be seated.

Fri
01
Sep
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SCBHS exploring home health options

Swift County-Benson Health Services is exploring options for restructuring its home health services operation or having it taken over by another organization.

At its meeting Monday night, the hospital governing board was told the home health sees a loss of between $450,000 to $500,000 annually.  Those losses are caused by union-scale wages, benefits and rules that add substantially to the cost of operations.

For example, CEO Kurt Waldbillig pointed out, if an employee calls in sick and another employee has to come in that employee is paid overtime though he or she may only have 20 hours in that week. Further, a home health employee gets 80 percent of his or her health insurance paid even if working only 20 hours a week. Public Employee Retirement Account (PERA) benefits also add to the costs of employees.

Those overtime and health insurance costs can build up quickly putting the financial operations of home health in a deep hole.

Thu
24
Aug
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Mae Gades never runs out of ideas for her new quilts

Mae Gades sits by her yellow quilt that won a grand championship ribbon at the Swift County Fair. She makes all kinds of quilts for all kinds of seasons and events.

Photos and Story by Peggy Cameron

 

In 35 years she’s created 43 full size quilts, 58 crib quilts and 16 wall hangings.

“I’ve added to that number recently, but haven’t kept track,” says Mae Gades of Benson.

The assessment of her heart-felt work was tallied in 2014 and her quilting has continued at a steady rate.  

“I never run out of ideas,”  she claims.

This year Mae took a “basket” design quilt to the Swift County Fair, one which she says was a real challenge because the design was on a diagonal.  It also featured her first try at machine designs….the flowers you see in the corners of the quilt design.  Daughter-in-law Amy Jobgen helped her download the floral designs into her sewing machine and she’s proud of that accomplishment for an 85 year old woman in a computer-savy world.

Recent estimates put Mae among the 21 million quilters in the U.S., most of whom are female.  The average age is 62....

 

Thu
24
Aug
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Upgrading courthouse windows will add to cost

When Swift County’s Board of Commissioners approved the $3.573 million bid of Sussner Construction of Marshall for extensive renovations to the courthouse, it was assumed that work on the windows was included.

But at a recent construction meeting on the work that is being done, County Board Chairman Eric Rudningen, District 5-Kerkhoven, learned that the windows weren’t included.

“We can’t spend $3 million on the courthouse and not have the windows…” done, Rudningen said at the county board’s Aug. 15 meeting at the Benson City Hall. Commissioners will be meeting at the city hall at least through the end of the year as work progresses on the courthouse.

As the county was looking at the renovation of the historic courthouse, it applied for a $170,000 grant for window replacement from the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS.) However, it was denied earlier this year.

Thu
24
Aug
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Benson schools seek lease of north civic center

Benson Public Schools is moving ahead with plans for leasing the north end of the Benson Civic Center.

Benson’s CNH Industrial has leased the space for years, but this past spring notified the city that it would be moving out. That opened the possibility for the school district to use the 14,000-square-foot area for its gymnastics program as well as other events. The gymnastics program would need about half the space.

Currently, gymnastics is housed in the Benson Armory. However, the space is barely adequate for competitive events and there are safety concerns with the cramped quarters.

Wed
16
Aug
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4-Hers take part in Clothing and Presentation Day

From left to right are performing arts participants, Arianna Nagler, Noah Collins, Brianna Collins, Ericka Collins, and Abbigail Johannes.

4-Hers take part in Clothing and Presentation Day

by Alyssa Wittnebel, Swift County 4-H Summer Intern

Swift County 4-H had a full day of creative projects, entertaining demonstrations, and life performances at the annual Presentation Judging Day, Wednesday, Aug. 2 at the First Evangelical Free Church in Benson. 

In the Cloverbud Non Garment division, there were a total of three participants. Three Cloverbuds participated in the Cloverbud Clothes You Buy, Clothes You Make, and fashion revue divisions. Two Cloverbuds participated in the Cloverbud quilting division as well. One Cloverbud participated in Performing Arts, Food Review, and Demonstrations.

Fri
11
Aug
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Swift County's 120th fair set to begin Wednesday

http://www.swiftcountyfair.org/

Swift County’s 120th annual fair gets underway next Wednesday, Aug. 16, and continues through Sunday, Aug. 20, at the Swift County Fairgrounds in Appleton.

Admission to the Swift County Fair is $2 per person, $2 per car, or $10 for one person and one car for all five days.

Midwest Rides and Concessions is back to handle the midway games and attractions, which opens at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 16.  Riders can take advantage of a special $1 per ride offering from 6-9 p.m. the first night.

While these prices are very low for a great evening of entertaiment, the main music events are high quality and free. The free entertainment starts with Wednesday, Aug. 16 with The White Sidewalls in the Chuck Brown Building at 7 p.m.  

Fri
11
Aug
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County will move ahead with second phase of CIP

Commissioners want to devise best plan for 6W, sheriff’s office renovations

Work will start immediately on developing the second phase of the five-year Swift County Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which is focused on renovation or new construction of facilities used by the sheriff’s office, 6W Community Corrections, county attorney’s office, and highway department.

It will also seek up to a two-year lease on the office space it is temporarily using for 6W Community Corrections.

The county’s building committee and staff will begin discussions on how to proceed with phase two as phase one work is just getting underway on the courthouse and Countryside Public Health’s building.

This second phase is expected to cost over $5.4 million with work to take place between 2018 and 2020.

Fri
11
Aug
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Collins files for mayor; Schreck, Smith join Evenson in council race

Benson City Council Member Teri Collins, who is currently in the second year of her first four-year council term, has filed for mayor.

Mark Schreck, Larry Smith and incumbent Jack Evenson have filed for the two open seats on the council. Evenson is completing his fourth year on the council and is seeking re-election to a second term.

Not seeking re-election to the council are Mayor Gary Landmark and Council Member Stephanie Heinzig.  Filings opened Aug. 1 and remain open until Tuesday, Aug. 15, at 5 p.m.

If Collins is elected mayor, she will continue to serve in her city council seat until Jan. 2 when she is sworn in as mayor. At that point, there would be a vacancy on the council. The city council would then decide whether to conduct a special election to fill the seat or it could appoint someone to fill the remaining two years.

Fri
11
Aug
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RDA could see state funds freed for broader use

A one-time change in Minnesota law could help Swift County free up restricted funds for a broad array of economic development uses currently blocked.

Over the years, the county has received Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) grant funds to assist businesses projects at very low interest rates. When the funds have been paid back to the county, the state has allowed it to keep the money for future projects. Some of the funds come from loans made to businesses as far back as the 1990s.

However, the uses of the funds were tightly restricted, Swift County Rural Development Authority Executive Director Jennifer Frost told the Swift County Board of Commissioners at its meeting Aug. 1.

Now changes in law could broaden how the RDA uses funds for economic development, workforce housing, housing stock renovation, and marketing initiatives, she said.

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