News

Wed
03
Jul
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Agricultural land values in Swift County starting to fall

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

“This was the first year in a number of years that we did lower our ag values in the county,” retiring Swift County Assessor Wayne Knutson told the Swift County Board of Commissioners at their June 18 meeting.

“It amounted to about 5 percent,” he said of the overall lowering of agricultural land values. “I didn’t lower every township the same. There were four townships that I didn’t make any changes to. There were 12 townships that were lowered about 5 percent on the tillable value. And there were four townships that I lowered about 7 percent on their tillable value.”

Seven years of strong commodity prices pushed agricultural land sales recorded levels by 2013 with the sales values reflected in ever-higher market values for local taxes. Despite falling prices, sales of farmland remained strong in some areas for several more years.

Wed
03
Jul
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Dr. Isabelle Eid joins H&H vet clinic

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Dr. Isabelle “Issi” Eid has joined the team at H&H Veterinary Service in Benson bringing not only her skills as a small and large animal veterinarian to the community, but also a background in public health.

Eid earning her undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, she attended the U’s College of Veterinary Medicine where she earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. At the same time, she completed a Master’s in Public Health at the U of M. She got her undergraduate degree in 2015 and her graduated from veterinary school in May.

A native of rural Montevideo, Eid has been at H&H just over a month now.

Eid grew up on a crop farm and hobby farm with goats, horses, and rabbits. When she was in middle school, she started raising alpacas. She says she is also a big “4-H’er.” She still works with the goats and alpacas in her spare time.

Wed
26
Jun
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City asked to develop more detailed flood plan, costs

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Residents of northwest Benson would like to see the Benson City Council develop an updated flood protection plan to give them a better idea of what it might look like and what it would cost them.

The council conducted a special meeting at the Benson Golf Club last Wednesday night with 28 residents of the area. City Manager Rob Wolfington gave a brief history of past flood threats and efforts to address them, talked about the flood this spring, and outlined the flood control plan that was rejected by area residents in 2013.

He also explained the background on how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood plain maps in force today were developed and the number of homes that potentially would be affected by a 100-year flood event.

Wed
26
Jun
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Farmers set to see bigger savings on school building levy

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

In their recent legislative session, Minnesota lawmakers continued efforts to help out farmers who are burdened with an inordinate amount of property when school districts pass building levies.

They have also helped rural school districts that find it increasingly difficult to pass much-needed building levies to upgrade their schools, but face stiff opposition because of the burden farmland owners and a poor agricultural economy.

Benson Public School’s $26.3 million building bond levy that passed last August was helped by a law passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2017. The law provided for the state to pick up $4 of every $10 in additional property tax on farmland when a school district passed a building levy.

Wed
26
Jun
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SCBHS board approves ‘dyad’ for new administrators

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Swift County-Benson Health Services voted Monday night to name Chief Nursing Officer Mellissa McGinty-Thompson and Chief Financial Officer Dan Enderson as co-CEOs effective July 1.

They will take over for Interim CEO Mary Ellen Wells, though Wells will continue working with SCBHS in the coming months as a consultant as it moves toward affiliation with CentraCare Health of St. Cloud, or Carris Health of Willmar. CentraCare owns Carris.

Wells was hired last September to replace Kurt Waldbillig, who had taken a job in Litchfield. Part of her job was to guide the governing board through the process of deciding to remain independent or affiliated with another health care provider.

Wed
26
Jun
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Partial agriculture, English jobs are added back at high school

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

When Benson High School’s Board of Education cut its agriculture teacher position as it worked to balance its budget this spring, it received criticism from the farming community.

It also got input from people who were upset that cutting the ag position could also mean the loss of The National FFA Organization program at BHS. FFA stands for Future Farmers of America.

At its meeting June 17, the board of education voted to add back a 0.1 ag teacher position at a cost of $7,000 with the position offered to teacher Nancy Loen. Thirty-two students have signed up for the class.

In order for students to join FFA they have to take an agriculture class, Secondary Principal Mike Knutson said. “The kids who are already in, can take the class if they want, those who want to get into FFA have to take the class,” he said.

Wed
19
Jun
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Litchfield takes top honors at Pioneerland Band Festival

Benson High School’s marching band leads off the 32nd annual Pioneerland Band Festival last Friday despite a little rain delaying the start of the parade.
Litchfield’s marching band earned grand champion honors in the 32nd annual Pioneerland Band Festival last Friday.

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

The Litchfield High School marching band placed first at the 2019 Benson Pioneerland Band Festival Parade, Friday, earning 77.7 points to edge Dassel-Cokato (74.4 points) and Champlin Park (71.7) for the overall title.

Thirteen bands took part in this year’s Band Festival parade, including Benson, which performed for exhibition only and led off the competition. The parade started a half-hour late due to thunder, lightning and light rain that fell in the late afternoon and early evening.

Litchfield also won the awards for Best Wind Section, Best Color Guard, and People’s Choice, while Dassel-Cokato earned the award for the Top Percussion.

Although it fell short of the Grand Championship, Dassel-Cokato did win the Class A title with 74.4 points, followed by Fergus Falls (65.8) and Foley (62.7).

Wed
19
Jun
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Wastewater plant needs a $1.4 to $2.1 million upgrade

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Benson’s Wastewater Treatment Facility needs $1.4 to $2.1 million in upgrades or it is in serious risk of failure.

The two effluent filters at the plant need replacement, an issue that has been pending for some time, according to Stantec Consulting Services, Inc., of Minneapolis. The company provides the city with engineering services on a wide range of municipal infrastructure projects.

“The filters are 37 years old and have required multiple repairs,” a letter from Stantec to the city says. “Now the staff worries that the filters will fail with little warning due to their age and current condition.” Failure of the filters would seriously jeopardize the ability of the plant to meet discharge limits on treated water entering the Chippewa River, Stantec told the city the letter dated June 12.

Wed
19
Jun
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Foundations approve $38,000 in local grants

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Local Foundation Announces Grant Awards

More than $38,000 in grant funds were awarded last week to area organizations from three local foundations. The funds came from the Benson Area Community Foundation, the Galen Hanson Donor Advised Fund and the Robert Sonsteng Donor Advised Fund.

At their joint June 12 meeting, the boards approved funding to 13 applicants who had applied for financial assistance.

 “Typically, the foundation limits its awards to no more than 50 percent of an organization’s total project estimated costs,” Chuck Koenigs secretary-treasurer of the Benson Area Community Foundation said. “In the present round of grant awards, we received requests totaling $59,680 but we only had about $38,195 to give.”

Those receiving funds and the awards were:

Receiving funding this cycle were the following organizations:

Wed
12
Jun
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Citizens committee gets tour of county LEC; provided with jail study details and finances

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Members of the Community Perspective Committee are getting deeper into their assignment of learning as much as they can about the building and jail needs of Swift County.

They were recently given a tour of the Swift County Law Enforcement Center, including the jail cells and deputy office spaces, Administrator Kelsey Baker said at the county board’s June 4 meeting.  A five-year budget detailing jailing and transport costs was given to committee members.

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