News

Fri
09
Mar
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Andy Jaeger sentenced on felony swindle charge

Andy Lynn Jaeger, 52, Benson, pled guilty to felony theft by swindle and was sentenced in Swift County 8th Judicial District Court Feb. 28 to 21 months at the state prison in St. Cloud.

He was also sentenced to 75 days in Swift County Jail and ordered to pay $63,361 in restitution to those from whom he swindled.

The sentence to prison in St. Cloud was stayed for 20 years on the following conditions:

Fri
09
Mar
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School plan aims to measure program performance

At its meeting Feb. 20, the District 777 Board of Education adopted a plan it hopes will establish a process for evaluating the performance of its arts and activities program.

It hopes the plan will give it a way to set expectations and hold those responsible for meeting those expectations accountable. It also would be a way for the district to ask what more it needs to do to help its coaches and advisors become more successful.

In 2016, the board of education authorized moving with developing a strategic plan, for its arts and activities program, Supt. Dennis Laumeyer said. Activities Director Shannon Schmidt has been working with him since last November to work on the plan to reexamine the district’s efforts to improve activities and athletics.

Fri
02
Mar
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Group looks for ways to make BHS sports more competitive

Sticky notes stating good things about BHS and its challenges were sorted into categories at a Feb. 19 meeting attended by parents, grandparents, coaches, teachers, and interested District 777 residents. The primary objective of the meeting was to look for ways to improve the competitiveness of the high school’s athletic programs.

A group of 45 Benson Public Schools residents attended a two-and-a-half hour meeting Feb. 19 hoping to find solutions for improving the performance of athletic programs that have been struggling for years now.

It’s not all about winning, those at the meeting agreed, but Benson High School sports must become at least competitive in its sports. For that to happen, tthere has to be accountability from what is seen as the pyramid of authority.

It starts with citizens who are the voters. Then goes to their elected representatives on the board of education – Chair Chad Payne, Gary Williams, Bill McGeary, Jodi DeJong-Hughes, Mary Langan, Tammy Gunlogson, and Paul Carruth.  They want leadership from Supt. Dennis Laumeyer, who answers to the school board. From there it goes to the activities director and the coaches.

Fri
02
Mar
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School board reviews its safety, security measures

Locked facilities during the day, school police officer, awareness of potential problems keys

With each school shooting that happens in America, thousands of schools around the nation reexamine their active shooter drills and facility security. Benson Public Schools is no exception.

Following the killing of 14 students and three faculty Feb. 14 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida, District 777 Board of Education chair Chad Payne called Supt. Dennis Laumeyer.

“I don’t think either one of us slept much that night,” he told fellow school board members at their Feb. 20 regular meeting. Payne said he was looking for an update on where Benson Public Schools were as far as student safety and security.

“It isn’t right,” he said of the murder of the school children, choking up as made the statement.

Fri
02
Mar
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Financing signed for assisted living - memory care facility

With United States Department of Agriculture economic development assistance in hand, Swift County-Benson Health Services signed the financing deal with Bremer Bank of Willmar Friday that will fund construction of a new assisted living-memory care facility.

Bremer is lending $7.352 million toward a project with a total cost around $10 million. A $750,000 loan from the Sonsteng Foundation to SCBHS is helping with the project financing. The Sonsteng Foundation had also committed earlier to making a $50,000 annual donation to SCBHS for 10 years.

The SCBHS Foundation has committed around $300,000 toward the project. Past and future cash contributions from SCBHS are also counted as part of the financing package.

The financing leads the way to construction getting underway on a 46-unit assisted living facility of which 18 units will be dedicated to memory care. It is being constructed adjacent to the south side of Scofield Place and east of the SCBHS....

 

Fri
23
Feb
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Swift County GIS data is now available to the public

Swift County’s Geographic Information System (GIS) pictometry data is now on the county’s website and available to the public.

At their Feb. 6 meeting, the Swift County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to “go live” with the public-facing GIS interactive map the county has compiled.

Over the past three years, Swift County has been using aerial pictometry photos to develop a comprehensive inventory of the land and structures that cover its 752 square miles.

The high-resolution aerial photos have entered in to a computerized geographic information system (GIS) database and overlaid with a vast amount of data.

Fri
23
Feb
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Flu deaths continue to rise in Minnesota

State health officials say three more children have died of complications of the flu, bringing the number of Minnesota children who have died of influenza this season to four.

The number of Minnesotans hospitalized with flu symptoms has topped 4,200. That’s the highest number since the Minnesota Department of Health began tracking flu hospitalizations in 2008.

Preliminary figures released Thursday suggest this year’s flu vaccine is 36 percent effective overall, and only 25 percent effective against this season’s most dominant strain, Type A H3N2.

While the flu epidemic appeared to be easy a couple weeks ago, some spikes in new cases have been reported. It is unknown how long the flu outbreak will last, but as the winter weather continues to force people to congregate inside, attending sporting events, meetings, and socializing in public places, the chances for the spread of the flu remain high.

Fri
23
Feb
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Area residents complete Blandin community leadership retreat

Twenty-four residents of the Benson, Kerkhoven, Murdock and Sunburg areas returned Feb. 2 from a five-day leadership retreat, the first segment of an intense eight-day training provided by the Blandin Community Leadership Program (BCLP). The team also will participate in three follow-up workshops.

The goal of the Blandin Community Leadership Program is to develop and train a broad base of local leaders to build healthy communities. Topics covered during the retreat included: identifying and describing community issues and opportunities through the lens of the 9 dimensions of a healthy community, effective interpersonal communication, building social capital, appreciating personality differences, managing interpersonal conflict, understanding community power, mobilizing community resources, and goal setting.

Fri
16
Feb
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Caucuses see very low citizen turnout in county

DFL caucus goers gathered at the Northside Elementary School last Tuesday to consider resolutions and vote on a straw ballot for their gubernatorial candidate of choice.
Republicans met at the Benson High School. Caucus turnout was very low for both parties though DFLers had a slight edge.

Nearly 5,000 Swift County citizens voted in the presidential election in 2016. Total county turnout for last Tuesday’s precinct caucuses was 56.

The county’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party saw 31 people attend caucuses in Benson, Kerkhoven and Appleton while Republicans saw 25 people attend their three county caucuses.

DFLers chose District 1 U.S. Rep. Tim Walz of southern Minnesota as their top choice for governor in the straw poll that was conducted during its caucus. Walz received 10 votes to State Auditor Deb Otto’s seven. State Representatives Paul Thissen and Tina Liebling each received three votes and Rep. Erin Murphy got two.

Among the Republican candidates, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson received 17 votes with the second place finisher Keith Downey far behind with just four votes.

Fri
16
Feb
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PUC asked to reconsider Benson Power closing vote

Vote sets stage for Xcel Energy to buy, close biomass power plant

 

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

Arguing that closing the Benson Power, LLC, biomass electric generation plant would adversely affect the environment and state economy, and violate guaranteed state contractual obligations, multiple petitioners are seeking to keep the facility open.

North American Fertilizer/Beaver Creek Transport, the Minnesota Timber Association, and the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, are asking the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to reverse its order allowing Xcel Energy to proceed with the purchase and closing of Benson Power.

North American Fertilizer (NAF) is the company adjacent to Benson Power that processes the ash from the plant’s burning a mix of wood chips and turkey into fertilizer.

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