News

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.

Fri
06
Jan
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Four candidates seeking Benson City Council seat

Four people filed for the seat and will be on the Jan. 10 ballot - Mike Fugleberg, Brad Johnson, Larry D. Smith and Lucas Olson.

Special election set for next Tuesday

Benson voters will go to the polls Jan. 10 to elect someone to fill the remaining three years in the city council term of Jonathon Pogge-Weaver. The person elected will start his term immediately.

Four people filed for the seat and will be on the Jan. 10 ballot - Mike Fugleberg, Brad Johnson, Larry D. Smith and Lucas Olson. The person elected to the seat will serve through Jan. 5, 2020.

Voting will be in the Benson Armory from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. City Clerk Glen Pederson has had no absentee ballot requests for the election and it likely that voter turnout could be very low. If it is, with a four-way race, anyone could win with a relatively few votes.

Fri
30
Dec
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County okays budget with 4.3 percent levy increase

Swift County’s Board of Commissioners adopted a 4.3 percent increase in the property tax levy for 2017 raising it by nearly $610,00 to $10,382,921 at its Dec. 19 meeting.

At the same time, the county approved a budget for next year that projects $24,811,217 in revenues and $24,635,544 in expenditures – resulting in a budget surplus of $175,673. The 2016 budget called for $20,088,623 in revenues and expenses of $21,102,723 – a deficit of $444,458. However, the county was able to manage its expenses in 2016 and finished in the black.

A good share of the increase in the 2017 revenues and expenses is due to highway projects scheduled for next year including major work on Swift County Highway 6. Highway spending will be up $3.6 million in 2017 to $11,290,830 accounting for 46 percent of the total spending next year.

Fri
30
Dec
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Christmas weekend sees rain, ice, snow and 50 mph wind gusts

A steady rain fell Christmas Day causing considerable concern among City of Benson and Agralite Cooperative electric crews. With the temperature hovering around 32 degrees early in the day, it was feared that ice would coat the lines leading to breakages that would cut off power to customers.

Several times during the day, lights did flicker in Benson.

The icy conditions were also a concern to law enforcement and highway crews as roads in the area became increasingly slick.

While ice did form on the lines and roads, the temperatures warmed through the day to 37 degrees, eventually melting the ice that had formed.

In all, the Benson area received 81 hundredths of an inch of rain on Christmas Day. There was also thunder and lightening as the massive low pressure system moved through the upper Great Plains states. North Dakota, parts of South Dakota and northern Minnesota all saw cooler temperatures that created blizzard conditions....

 

Fri
30
Dec
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Promotion of Appleton prison to continue in 2017

Republican Rep. Tony Cornish, in black sweatshirt, chairs the Minnesota House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee. He will play a key role in the discussions about the state’s possible use of the Appleton prison.

Swift County is already gearing up to make another effort to get the State of Minnesota to lease or buy the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton.

At the county board’s meeting Dec. 19, Commissioner Gary Hendrickx, District 1-Appleton, reported that he and Commission Chair Pete Peterson, District 3-south Benson, had attended a meeting of representatives of lobbying firm Goff Public and CoreCivic, the owner of the prison.

CoreCivic is the new name of Corrections Corporation of America, the country’s largest owner of private prison facilities. It changed its name this past fall.

Fri
23
Dec
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A visit from the Santa Truck

With all the kids patiently waiting, the Santa Truck rounds the corner and heads toward the Benson Fire Hall.
Mrs. Claus (Shirley Manska) and Santa (Karl Manska) pose with a young child during the Santa Truck’s visit to the Benson Fire Hall, Monday.  All the kids had a great time visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus and each received a bag of treats.

Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their friends visited the Benson Fire Hall to meet with all the kids in Benson.  They were originally set to visit the community Saturday night, but that visit was postponed to Monday due to weather.  The Santa Truck made stops at Danvers, Clontarf, the Golden Living Center-Meadow Lane, and DeGraff before arriving at the Benson Fire Hall.

 

Pictured, top: With all the kids patiently waiting, the Santa Truck rounds the corner and heads toward the Benson Fire Hall.

Pictured, bottom: Mrs. Claus (Shirley Manska) and Santa (Karl Manska) pose with a young child during the Santa Truck’s visit to the Benson Fire Hall, Monday.  All the kids had a great time visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus and each received a bag of treats.
 

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