News

Wed
17
Apr
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April blizzard pushes winter season’s snowfall to a record

flower in April blizzard

While last week’s blizzard didn’t break the record snowfall for April with its 13 inches of snow, it did push the winter season’s total snowfall to an all-time record of 78.5 inches.

For the past 50 years that record had been held by the winter season of 1968-1969 when 76.4 inches of snow fell.

The two winter seasons are markedly different on when the heavy snowfalls came. This season, 28 inches of snow fell in March and April. In 1968-69, only 4.1 inches of snow fell in those two months.

However, in the winter of 1968-69, 53.6 inches fell in December and January, burying the community. Another 14.7 inches fell in January, deepening the snow depth with the spring warmth to melt it still a couple months away.

Wed
17
Apr
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Civic center board proposes lease agreement to school

Benson’s Civic Center board is continuing to work on an arrangement with Benson Public Schools that would allow it to renovate the facility’s north end for gymnastics as well as other athletics.

At Monday night’s board of education meeting, Civic Center Board Member and School Board Member Bill McGeary presented a proposal that would have the school lease the north end for 20 years. The starting cost would be $63,000 a year, but a 2 percent annual increase would be built in to the agreement.

With the 2 percent annual increase, the last lease payment would total $93,615 with the total lease payments over the 20-year term coming to $1.62 million.

Wed
10
Apr
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Little Putting Practice

With Monday’s high reaching 64 degrees, Taylor King and son Thomas enjoy a little putting practice at the Benson Golf Club. Below, a brief thunderstorm brings out a rainbow.

With Monday’s high reaching 64 degrees, Taylor King and son Thomas enjoy a little putting practice at the Benson Golf Club.

Wed
10
Apr
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Emerald Eve

Swift County-Benson Health Services Foundation President Jerry Peterson informs, and entertains, the crowd gathered for the annual Emerald Eve fundraising event at McKinney’s on Southside Friday evening.

Swift County-Benson Health Services Foundation President Jerry Peterson informs, and entertains, the crowd gathered for the annual Emerald Eve fundraising event at McKinney’s on Southside Friday evening.

Wed
10
Apr
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School board gets input on proposed 2019-20 budget cuts

At its April 1 meeting, the District 777 Board of Education went through the painstaking list of proposed cuts for the 2019-20 school year as it tries to balance its budget.

Based on current state funding and local tax revenues, the school district estimates it is facing a deficit of $631,900 with general fund operating income for the coming school year projected at $9,350,700 and expenses of $9,982,600.

A decision on $636,440 in cuts will be made at the school board’s April 15 meeting.

With salaries and benefits making up over 70 percent of the school district’s expenses, staff positions and course offerings are necessarily on the table for reductions.

There are two principal reasons for the projected budget deficit: The lack of state funding and falling enrollment.

Wed
10
Apr
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Citizen committee formed to study justice center proposal

Bowing to persistent public pressure over the past three months, the Swift County Board of Commissioners created a Community Perspective Committee to give it input on a proposed $17.48 million justice center.

The committee will have two people named from each of the five county commission districts. At their April 2 meeting, commissioners said they want all the names of potential committee members submitted by April 15 so they can appoint the representatives at their April 16 meeting.

A listing of the towns and township in each district is at the end of this story.

 If more than two people from a commission district apply, County Board Chair Gary Hendrickx, District 1-Appleton, said what he would look for was a variety in who is named - male, female; people for and
people against. “You do not want to stack this in one way at all,” he said.

Wed
10
Apr
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Sheriff, attorney criticize Swift County retention policies

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Swift County has lost Assistant County Attorney Allison Whalen to neighboring Stevens County. It is a loss that will have a deep impact on the office’s ability to prosecute cases as well as provide services to victims.

Both Swift County Sheriff John Holtz and County Attorney Danielle Olson roundly criticized the county board of commissioners and Administrator Kelsey Baker for their lack of effort to retain Whalen at the board’s meeting Tuesday, April 2.

It could get worse for the county with both Olson and her remaining assistant having sent out job applications for open positions in area counties.

Fri
05
Apr
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County looks at tour of PCF as governor says ‘No private prisons’

Swift County is organizing a tour of the Prairie Correctional Facility for Wednesday, April 24, that would include state legislators, the commissioner of the state Department of Corrections, area county commissioners as well as the prison’s owners, CoreCivic.

It would be intended to show the state that the 1,640-bed Prairie Correctional Facility (PCF) in Appleton that once employed 350 people from 24 surrounding counties should be used by the state to meet future prison needs. When it was at full occupancy, the prison generated an estimated $15.2 million annually in economic vitality for the region.

Though it has sat empty for nine years, the prison is ready to house prisoners. CoreCivic has kept a minimal maintenance staff in place and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in its upkeep.

Fri
05
Apr
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Ideal weather helps slow snow melt, reducing area flood threat

With the temperarure reaching the year’s high of 57 degrees last Wednesday children who have been cooped up all winter long were anxious to be outside playing.

Since it reached its peak of 17.5 feet March 24, the Chippewa River has fallen 4 feet allowing water that was once encroaching on the Hawleywood Addition of Benson to drain away.

Flood concerns were considerably reduced as the area saw more than two weeks of temperatures that warmed during the day to between 32 and 57 degrees, then saw evening lows fall below freezing again, slowing the snowmelt.

It also helped that there has been no precipitation since March 14.

It was just 10 days ago that three excavators were working to free ice jams at the Burlington Northern Sante Fe railroad bridge over the Chippewa River south of Minnesota Highway 9. Ice floes were lodging against the bridge pylons, creating a dam that caused river levels to rise to the north of the bridge.

Fri
05
Apr
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Brightmark’s plans for Benson Power site progressing

Bob Powell, CEO Brightmark Energy, was in Benson last week to meet with city officials and citizens of the community.
BME is working to finalize engineering, technical, legislative, and financial issues as it moves forward with plans to build a biogas facility on the former Benson Power and Fibrominn site west of Benson.

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Brightmark Energy CEO Bob Powell was in Benson for a couple days last week meeting with city staff and a group of area business people as the California company’s plans for development of the former Benson Power (Fibrominn) site progress.

Brightmark Energy (BME) is pursuing the possible construction of an anaerobic digestion facility that would break down dairy manure into methane gases from which renewable natural gas is then created. Other sources of biomass could include poultry manure, sugar beet waste, and other products.

Its initial investment is estimated at around $50 million with the potential for an additional $150 million if it expands to a second phase.

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