News

Fri
27
Jan
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Four temperature records broken in the past week

After a bitter stretch of cold weather that dominated the first two weeks of January the temperatures have dramatically turned around. Between Thursday and Sunday four record high low temperatures were set.

A warm southerly flow of air and cloudy skies the past week helped keep temperatures steady at or above the freezing mark for four consecutive days.

Those lows were 12 to 15 degrees above the average high temperatures for mid-January, which are 19 to 20 degrees. They were 32 to 35 degrees above the average lows of 0 to 1 degree above zero for the Jan. 19 to 22 period.

The warmest January low on record is 37 degrees set Jan. 27, 1989. It came during a six-day stretch from Jan. 24 to Jan. 29 when lows ranged from 31 to 37 degrees. The 35-degree lows recorded Jan. 19, 20 and 21 this year tie for second place for the highest low temperature in January. The low was also 35 degrees Jan. 9, 2002.

Fri
27
Jan
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County takes next step in $4.5 million courthouse renovation

Formal plans and specifications for a nearly $5 million renovation of the Swift County Courthouse and an upgrade of Countryside Public Health will be sought in anticipation of seeking bids later this spring.

County commissioners voted 4-1 at their Jan. 17 meeting to proceed with the projects, which will be paid for by general obligation bonds. Property owners in Swift County will pay the bonds off.

Commissioners Gary Hendrickx, District 1-Appleton, Pete Peterson, District 3-south Benson, Joe Fox, District 4-Hegbert Township, and Eric Rudningen, District 5-Kerkhoven, voted for the motion while Commissioner Ed Pederson, District 2-north Benson, voted against it citing concerns about the cost.

 

Countryside Public Health
Nearly $490,000 in work is needed at the five-county regional headquarters of Countryside Public Health in Benson for basic maintenance of the building.

Fri
20
Jan
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Talk of using Appleton prison underway at the state Legislature

Earlier this month the Swift County’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with Goff Public to provide government and public relations services to help with promoting use of Appleton’s empty prison.

Their action came in anticipation that the Legislature could renew the conversation about the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) using the vacant 1,600-bed prison to relieve overcrowding in state prisons.

It would also allow the DOC to take nearly 500 state prisoners sitting in county jails and place them in a facility where they would have access to state education programs. Those programs are aimed at teaching inmates skills that will help them avoid breaking the law again when they are out and ending up back in prison. County jails have no such programs.

Fri
20
Jan
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Do-Mat’s opens new Benson grocery store

The new Do-Mat’s Family Foods grocery store also houses Lewis Drug and Fischer Eye Center. It was a $3.5 million investment in the future of Do-Mat’s and the community.

Lewis Drug, Fischer Eye Center also in new building

“Wow!” is one of the most common expressions owners Tim and Carol Mattheisen, and store manager Matt Mattheisen, have heard as people walk through their new grocery store along the south side of U.S. 12 west in Benson.

It was just more than four months from when the first tree was removed Aug. 20 from the building site on which Do-Mat’s Family Foods now sits until the doors opened for business last Thursday.

“It looks like a Byerly’s or a Hy-Vee,” their customers are saying. “Like a store you would see in Minneapolis.”

Fri
20
Jan
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Administrator job offer delayed

After interviewing three candidates for the Swift County administrator’s position last Friday, the Swift County board of commissioners voted to postpone the discussion and potential job offer until its Tuesday, Jan. 17 meeting.

Commissioners interviewed Kelsey Baker who is the executive director of The Legends at Heritage Place in Sartell; Larry Timmerman who is the senior program evaluator for Ramsey County Health & Wellness/Economic Growth and Community Investment; and Bradley Alberts who was the the Pope County coordinator at the time the interview was scheduled.

However, ahead of the Friday interviews, the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood reported that Alberts had “abruptly” resigned his position during a performance evaluation. His resignation came during a Dec. 27 end-of-the year meeting.

The report gave no reason as to why Alberts had resigned. He had joined the county May 31, 2016.

 

Fri
13
Jan
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Swift County drug court has first graduation

8th Judicial District Drug Court Coordinator Karon White and Judge Thomas Van Hon present Amy with her diploma on graduation during a ceremony Dec. 27 at the Swift County Courthouse.

Drug court breaks cycle of drug use

Late this past December Swift County 8th Judicial District Court saw its first graduate from the relatively new judicial program.

Started back in 2014, the drug court’s purpose is to break the cycle of drug and alcohol addiction, and the crimes that too often are committed by those trapped in that addiction. It is aimed at those perpetually in the criminal justice system who are considered at high risk to offend again despite the jail sentences they are given, and the fines and restitution they are ordered to pay.

But those court also sees in these offenders people who, given enough help and support, can free themselves from addiction and become law-abiding, productive citizens.

Fri
13
Jan
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Goff Public to assist county with Appleton prison lobbying again

Swift County’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with Goff Public to provide government and public relations services in 2017 at their meeting Jan. 3. Retaining the company is related to 2017 economic development priorities, it said.

The St. Paul firm is helping the county with its efforts to get the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton housing prisoners again.

The 1,600-bed privately-owned prison has sat empty since February 2010 when owner Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) closed it. Last fall, CCA changed its name to CoreCivic. It is the country’s largest owner of private prison facilities.

It has been keeping a minimal staff on hand for basic maintenance at the facility. CoreCivic has also invested several million in upgrades to the facility over the past years ensuring that it is ready should the State of Minnesota be interested in housing prisoners in Appleton.

Tue
10
Jan
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Lucas Olson elected to council

Candidate            Northside Southside  Total

Lucas Olson          31            64             95

Brad Johnson         27            20             47

Mike Fugleberg      20            22             42

Larry Smith           21            16             37

Totals                  99            122            221

 

Tue
10
Jan
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Lucas Olson wins special Benson council election

City Cleark along with election judges Susan Snow, Mary K.W. Langan, Pam Lawatch, and Jim Hilleren wait for voters to come in Tuesday morning. Voter turnout was very low partially due to a morning blizzard and cold, blustery conditions that continued thorugh the day.

Lucas Olson was elected Tuesday to complete the three years left in Jonathon Pogge-Weaver’s Benson City Council term. He received 95 vote beating out three challengers. Brad Johnson received 47 votes, Mike Fugleberg 42 and Larry Smith 37.

An early morning blizzard, with cold blustery conditions that continued through the day Tuesday, helped hold voter turnout down. Also, with the special council election the only race on the ballot, city officials were not expecting much of a turnout.

Total voter turnout was 222 votes with one ballot cast for a write-in candidate, but though the write-in box was checked, a name was not written in. In the 2015 Benson City Council election, there were 784 votes cast with 1,752 citizens registered. Voter turnout in 2015 was around 45 percent. Voter turnout for the special election is going to be under 15 percent.

Fri
06
Jan
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2016 was sixth warmest year on record for Benson area

2016 will go into the records books as the sixth warmest on record for the Benson area despite no 100 degree days and just nine days that hit 90 degrees or higher.

However, from January to June 2016 every month saw above average temperatures and 10 of 12 months were warmer than average. March was the third warmest on record falling behind 2000 and 2012. March’s mean temperature was 9.4 degrees above average and saw five high temperature records broken.

November was also the third warmest on record with the mean 10.5 degrees above the average.

The warm March weather led to many area lakes setting record early ice-out dates and the Benson Golf Course opened for play March 12. It opened March 15 in 2015, another very warm March.

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