News

Fri
01
Mar
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County landowners 93 percent compliant on buffer strips

Ditch buffer strips are meant to filter out sediments and pollutants before they enter the rivers, streams and lakes.

June 30 is SWCD’s ‘unofficial’ deadline for compliance

 

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Swift County landowners are now 93 percent compliant with the Minnesota buffer law, Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Manager Andy Albertson told county commissioners at their meeting Feb. 19.

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, rivers, 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.

“There is a list that has been developed of landowners we haven’t heard from, or that we have heard from and we are waiting to follow up with to see if they were able to get their buffers seeded,” he said.

Fri
01
Mar
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5 teachers denied early retirement payments

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

 

It appeared to be a relatively routine action, but proved to be anything but that.

Five Benson Public School teachers had applied for early retirement and requested a $15,000 payment to go toward their health insurance.

The five were: Peggy Bausman, high school business teacher; Shelly Mikkelson, school choir instructor; Ruth Ahrndt, high school science teacher; Jon Ahrndt, elementary teacher; and Don Brehmer, high school trades class teacher.

Early retirement requests are governed by state statute rather than the teacher’s union master agreement, Supt. Dennis Laumeyer explained. The board had three choices with the requests. It could deny them, approve them, or counter offer with a lower amount. The requests for early retirement had to be submitted, or withdrawn, by Feb. 1.

Fri
01
Mar
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Hendrickx elected county board chair

With Commissioner Ed Pederson, District 2-south Benson and Benson Township, resigning as chair at the county board’s Feb. 5 meeting, the first order of business at the Feb. 19 meeting was electing a new one.

As the Feb. 5 meeting came to an end, Pederson expressed his displeasure with the county board’s 3-2 vote to proceed with a $162,000 study of a new justice center. He was adamantly opposed to the study.

Based on the vote, Pederson said he was not the person to be the face of Swift County as its board chair as it potentially moved to building a $17.45 million justice center that would house a new jail, the Swift County Sheriff’s Office, the Swift County attorney, 6W Community Corrections, human services, and Restorative Practices.

“Therefore, I will resign as board chairman effective at the end of this meeting today,” he said.

Fri
08
Feb
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Benson to support Brightmark at PUC

Just when the City of Benson, Brightmark Energy and Xcel Energy thought they were past all the potential roadblocks a new development has intervened over the future use of the former Benson Power, LLC, site.

The Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC) and BioPro Power (BPP) filed a formal complaint with the Minnesota Utilities Commission Jan. 25 contesting the sale of the assets of the site.

Those with an interest in the site’s use, including the City of Benson, have been given until 4:30 p.m., March 1, to comment on the complaint. The topics on which it can comment are:
- Does the PUC have jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint?
- Is it in the public interest for the PUC to investigate these allegations upon its own motion?
- If the PUC chooses to investigate the complaint, what procedures should be used to do so?

Fri
08
Feb
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DNR sets March 12 meeting for area aquifer discussion

In September 2017, Department of Natural Resources Region 4 Groundwater Planner Tim Gieseke and Area DNR Hydrologist Ethan Jenzen outlined a Community-based Aquifer Management Partnership (CAMP) initiative the agency was implementing in select regions of rural Minnesota.

It told the Swift County Board of Commissioners the Benson area was on its agenda for a future plan that would help identify aquifer uses, assets, limitations and potential threats.

“Once you have abundance in your head you kind of feel that you can consume it endlessly,” Gieseke told commissioners at their Sept. 18, 2017, meeting. However, the reality is that even in Minnesota water resources have a limit.

Fri
08
Feb
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Polar Vortex brings record temps as lows fall to -35

It is rare that the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t deliver the mail, but with wind chills expected to be 50 to 60 below last Wednesday delivery was suspended. Postal carriers were back out Thursday despite wind chills still in the teens to 20s below zero.

Last week’s record cold left its mark not just on Minnesota, but the nation as it spread subzero temperatures to 22 states. Twenty-one deaths are attributed to the cold including two college students; hundreds of schools were closed as well as businesses; and mail delivery was suspended in 10 states.

For western Minnesota, the killer Arctic blast was part of a stretch of nine consecutive days with lows below zero with five record low temperature records broken and the all-time low temperature for Benson of a minus 35 degrees tied twice.

Benson made the CNN news when the wind chill at the National Weather Service recording station at the municipal airport recorded a minus 62-degrees. At the time, the air temperature was a minus 27 degrees with the wind blowing out of the northeast at 31 mph.

Fri
08
Feb
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Commissioners vote 3-2 to take next step on justice center

Farmer Ben Vadnais urges the Swift County Board of Commissioners to delay their vote on building a new justice center pointing out that the farm economy isn’t good and that the ag sector can only take so much additional cost on the land at this time. Nearly 90 people crowded into the county board room to hear what the board would do Tuesday morning.

After an at times contentious two-hour debate the Swift County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to proceed with studying more detailed designs and costs for a justice center.

Commissioner Gary Hendrickx, District 1-Appleton, made the motion with a second by Eric Rudningen, District 5 – Kerkhoven. Commission Chair Ed Pederson, District 2-north Benson and Benson Township, claimed the motion was out of order since he had not called for it.

However, Hendrickx, Commissioner Pete Peterson, District 3 - south Benson and Benson Township, Commissioner Joe Fox, District 4-Hegbert Township, and Rudningen all said any board member could make a motion without the chair’s request.

When it came to the vote, Hendrickx, Peterson, and Rudningen voted in favor of it while Fox and Pederson voted no.

Tue
29
Jan
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Delivery of the Swift County Monitor-News delayed due to weather

With windchills forecast to be a dangerous minus 55 to minus 65 degrees, Swift County Monitor-News Publisher Reed Anfinson notified carriers for delivery of the Monitor-News and Monitor Extra in Benson that delivery would be delayed.

This was the first time in the 25 years that the Monitor-News has delivered the two publications in Benson with its own carriers that it has halted distribution due to extreme and dangerous cold.

Some carriers may have chosen to deliver limited copies in Benson, however, we encouraged them to wait for warmer weather.

Counter sale deliveries will be made to stores and gas stations in Benson and the area, and subscribers can stop by the Monitor-News office to pick up their copy if they decide to venture out.

As soon as the weather improves enough not to endanger the health of the young carriers who distribute the Monitor-News and Monitor Extra in Benson, delivery will be completed.

Fri
04
Jan
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County passes 3.75 levy increase, approves budget

Swift County’s Board of Commissioners set the overall final gross levy increase at 3.75 percent for 2019 bringing the total levy to $10,788,827. That is an increase of $389,957 over the 2018 net levy of $10,398,870.

Since 2016, when the county’s net levy was $9,773,657, it has risen by just over $1 million.

The proposed 2019 budget contains revenues of $23,997,524 and expenditures of $24,710,324, for a deficit budget of $712,800.

Taxes make up 47 percent of the county’s revenues while payments from federal and state sources make up 41 percent. Another 11 percent comes from charges for services while 1 percent comes from miscellaneous sources....

Budgeting a year-long process

“Someone is going to listen to this recording and say that the county budget, the RDA budget and the HRA budget were approved with no discussion and a unanimous vote,” Rudningen said after the county levies and budgets were approved.

Fri
04
Jan
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Rural areas now have less legislative clout

Metro area dominates DFL, state House

When Minnesota Legislature convenes next Tuesday, Jan. 8, Republican District 17A Rep. Tim Miller, Prinsburg, will start his third two-term in office. District 17 Republican Sen. Andrew Lang, Olivia, will start the third year of his first four-year term.

District 17A includes all of Swift and Chippewa counties, all but two townships in Renville County, and the four southern Kandiyohi townships of Edwards, Holland, Roseland and Lake Lillian.

Senate District 17 includes House Districts 17A and 17B. House District 17B includes the cities of Willmar, Spicer, New London and the remaining townships of Kandiyohi County not part of 17A.

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