News

Fri
19
Jan
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Dangerous wind chills dominate the week

Five of the past seven days have seen windchills fall to the range of a minus 30 to 36 degrees - cold enough to cause frostbite to exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.

With the National Weather Service issuing a Wind Chill Warning for Monday, parents were bundling their children up with extra layers of cloths. Winds out of the north gusting to over 30 mph Monday morning combined with the temperature at minus 8 degrees for wind chill was a minus 36 degrees.

Four times in the past week, the National Weather Service has issued Wind Chill Warnings for western Minnesota. A Wind Chill Warning means the combination of very cold air and the wind will create dangerously low wind chill values. Exposed skin can freeze in minutes and even hypothermia or death can result if precautions are not taken. Bundle up if headed outside and make sure to have winter clothes with you if traveling, it warns.

So far this month, we’ve seen 12 of 16 days with below zero low temperatures. Just another two days below zero and we hit the average of 14 days below zero for January.

Fri
19
Jan
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2018 county levy set at $10.398 million

Swift County has raised its levy by 2 percent for 2018 to $10,398,870 – an increase of $203,899. That levy will provide nearly half the revenue for its operations this year with the budget calling for $21.16 million in expenditures.

While the levy is going up, county overall spending is going down by $3.472 million. That big drop in spending can be attributed to one area of county expenditures – highways.

In 2017, the county highway budget was $11.29 million with revenues coming in from federal and state sources to help pay for work on a 13-mile stretch of Swift County Road 6. The work was done east of Minnesota 29 south with the road getting a new cement surface. It is now the third road in the county surfaced with cement.

This year’s county highway budget is $7.11 million, $4.18 million less, with no major road construction projects scheduled.

Fri
19
Jan
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Minnesota Supreme Court to decide fate of CVEC-GPC suit

Many members in the bitter legal battle between two local cooperatives are hoping the Minnesota Supreme Court’s hearing of the case Jan. 3 between the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC) and Glacial Plains Cooperative will be the end of the road.

It could take several months before the Court’s opinion is released.

Since 2009, the case has gone from the Swift County 8th Judicial District courtroom in Benson, to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and now finally to the state’s highest court. At both the local and Court of Appeals Glacial Plains won. That has not deterred CVEC’s board from continuing to pursue its cause.

Fri
12
Jan
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Prior Lake’s Becca Kufrin is a top ‘Bachelor’ contestant

Becca Kufrin, along with sister Emily and mother Jill, are pictured at a February 2012 ceremony where the late Steve Kufrin was inducted into the Minnesota Waterfowl Hall of Fame. At right, is BHS graduate and former local State Farm agent Paul Hanson.

Her parents once lived, worked in Benson
 

By Maggie Stanwood
Prior Lake American

Editor’s note: Becca Kufrin is the daughter of the late Steve Kufrin and Jill Kufrin, who now lives in Prior Lake. Steve was the sports editor and a columnist for the Monitor-News in the 1970s and 80s. Jill was a teacher at Northside Elementary. Her aunt, Amy (Kufrin) Benoit and her husband Larry, live in Benson.
 

There are spoilers of this season of ABC’s “The Bachelor” in this article. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Prior Lake native Becca Kufrin already has Arie Luyendyk Jr. on one knee.

Literally.

During the season premiere of ABC’s “The Bachelor” on Monday night (Jan. 1,) Kufrin, 27, used her limo gimmick (what girls do to try and stand out on the first night once they exit a limo, meeting the bachelor for the first time) to have Luyendyk ask her if she was “ready to do the damn thing?”

Fri
12
Jan
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Benson police settling into new headquarters

Benson’s new police station is in the southwest corner of the city. It provides the security lacking in the old offices in the basement of city hall.

Benson’s Police Department is now operating out of its new headquarters at the corner of Hall Avenue and 22nd Street South in the far southwestern corner of the city.

The new facility is in the renovated former Loen Electric building. A 1,755 square foot addition was built onto the 3,602 square foot building bringing its total size to 5,357 square feet.

Loen’s building was purchased for $199,500 with at least another $661,000 spent on the renovation. There was also a $45,850 architect’s fee. The total cost, at this point, is $907,250. That price does not include furniture, the security system, phones, and the cost of several change orders as work was underway. City council members were expecting a total cost of under $500,000 when they started looking at the new police station.

With crime never taking a break, and December one of the busiest months of 2017 for the department, the move into the new station is a work in progress.

Fri
12
Jan
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School board seeks citizens for input on building projects

Advice would shape May levy referendum cost

With the forming of four committees representing diverse interests in the Benson Public Schools, the board of education is hoping to gather input that will provide it with direction for addressing building maintenance needs.

That direction would be the basis for going to the voters in May to seek approval for bonding to pay for the work.

The four committees will consist of school staff, landowners and farmers, business owners and community members at large.

“The Benson school board is seeking volunteers to serve on a school committee to analyze the school facilities,” the school board asks in a letter presented at its meeting Monday night. “Each committee will work independently with the school architect and superintendent to analyze the current facilities and make a facilities improvement recommendation to the board.

Fri
05
Jan
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School could set levy referendum for May

Funds raised would go to facility improvements

Benson Public Schools could be going to the voters in May asking them to support a levy referendum for basic maintenance and upgrading of district buildings. Just what the projects would be and what they would cost has to be decided yet.

School board members are going to rely on input from a cross-section of district citizens for direction on the scope of a building renovation project. Those citizens will be brought together for several meetings, given a tour of facilities, told what problems each has and the challenges the problems present. They will then be asked to come up with a list of recommendations for a referendum.

By getting citizen input, the school board is hoping to go to voters with a project that already has broad community support.

Fri
22
Dec
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USDA agrees to back financing for Benson assisted living facility

United States Department of Agriculture financial backing for a Bremer Bank loan for Swift County-Benson Health Services to construct an assisted living and memory care facility has been approved.

Bremer Bank of Willmar has agreed to loan $7.352 million toward the $9.682 million project to build a 46-unit assisted living facility of which 18 units will be dedicated to memory care.

The Sonsteng Foundation has also stepped in to help the project with a $750,000 loan. SCBHS is also investing additional assets in the project to cover the difference between Bremer’s loan and the project cost.

One key step remains before SCBHS gets a go to start construction and that is the final numbers on the cost of building the facility. This “do not exceed” cost number will tell the governing board whether or not the financial package it has put together still can pay for the facility as proposed; that number is expected this week.

Fri
22
Dec
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SCBHS is projecting much stronger year in 2018

Swift County-Benson Health Services’ 2018 budget shows a projected loss of $148,000, which reflects a substantial improvement in the health facility’s bottom line compared to past years and the current year.

That projected operation’s loss reflects a depreciation expense of $1,081,000.

Adding back the depreciation gives SCBHS about $950,000 in cash earned in 2018 if income and expense projections are on the mark. Principal payments on debt service don’t show up on the profit and loss statement. However, they take away from cash on hand.

Those debt payments are about $450,000, reducing cash to around $500,000 in 2018, Chief Financial Office Dan Enderson told the SCBHS governing board at its meeting last Thursday night.

Thu
21
Dec
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Heartland staff cited after possible assault of girl who left facility

Editor’s note: The following story was written by Minnesota Public Radio’s Tim Nelson with comments by the Heartland Girls Ranch executive director  added by the Monitor-News.

The state’s Department of Human Services has cited staff at the Heartland Girls Ranch in Benson after a girl left the facility and was later found in Iowa, possibly the victim of a sexual assault.

The Heartland Girls Ranch of Benson was founded in 1992 and serves girls recommended for placement by county child protection workers, age 12 to 21, from around Minnesota. It has become a home in recent years for girls who are victims of sex trafficking. It has 32 beds and serves around 60 to 70 girls a year, according to its website.

The DHS report says a girl at the ranch was allowed two home visits in September, the first of which ended early when her family reported she’d used a mobile phone to contact an adult not on her approved contact list.

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