News

Fri
19
May
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Bill to compensate Benson for loss of Benson Power, LLC; Dayton vetoes

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Publisher’s note: Early Tuesday morning Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the bill that contained the langauge that would have provided Benson with compensation for the closing of Benson Power, LLC.
 

A 213-page omnibus jobs and energy bill passed the Republican-controlled Legislature Monday. It includes language to end the biomass mandate and compensate the City of Benson for the loss of Benson Power, LLC, and is now on its way to an uncertain future on the desk of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

It passed the Senate 34-30 and the House 75-54; both votes were along party lines with few exceptions. Republicans control the Senate with a narrow 34-33 majority but have a commanding 77-57 majority in the House.

Fri
19
May
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Secretary of State Simon stops by Benson program

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, accompanied by his director of communications Ryan Furlong, met with Swift County Safe Avenues coordinator and Safe at Home application assistant Christine Thompson last Friday.

Safe at Home offers a secure space

For those who have suffered mental, physical, or sexual abuse escaping from the person who has harmed them can be a real challenge. That is especially true in small, rural communities.

But through the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, the Safe at Home program offers victims a way to “disappear.”

Friday Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon met with Christine Thompson, coordinator for the Safe Avenues and Safe At Home program in Swift County.

Simon’s stop in Benson was part of a four-county swing through western Minnesota to meet with representatives from Safe Haven, a shelter and resource center that helps victims of domestic violence, representatives of the Safe at Home address confidentiality program, and with election officials to discuss replacing Minnesota’s aging election equipment. He had stops in Swift, Meeker, Kandiyohi, and Lac qui Parle counties.

Fri
19
May
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CNH donates $25,000 to BHS

Benson High School students and faculty pose with the staff of Case IH for a photo following the presentation of a $25,000 check. The funds will go to the machining and welding  programs.

In celebrating the 175 years of producing agricultural equipment for the nation and world this year, Case IH is making $25,000 donations to schools in the communities where they have manufacturing plants.

Benson High School was one of the schools that received a check from Case IH with the presentation ceremony taking place at the high school last Tuesday. It was attended by Benson Case staff, including Plant Manager Jason Hausauer, BHS students, and high school staff.

The $25,000 donation to BHS will go for the machining and welding classes. Case has a program through which it employs students at the high school, training them in welding and machining skills....

 

For more on this story, and to keep up on all the latest in area news, subscribe to the Swift County Monitor-News print edition or our PDF internet edition. Call 320-843-4111 and you can get all the local news and sports delivered to you!

 

Wed
17
May
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Hospital seeks county in-kind help with assisted living project

As Swift County-Benson Health Services tries to reduce the cost of building an assisted living/memory care facility on its campus it is looking for ways to reduce the costs of construction.

It has already reduced the price of the project to near $10 million by scaling down the size of the facility. But it is also hoping to get some help from Swift County. At the county board’s May 2 meeting, SCBHS CEO Kurt Waldbillig asked commissioners to consider providing in-kind work on site preparation this fall.

Commissioners listened to the request, but want to know more about the costs of providing the service, about potential liability, and whether helping out the hospital will interfere with other county projects that need to get done. They are also hesitant to provide services that could be done by private businesses in the county.

Wed
17
May
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County to invest $92,000 more in GIS

While Swift County personnel and departments have become active users of the Geographic Information System (GIS) pictometry data that has been collected over the past three years, the county commissioners also want the public to eventually have access to it.

The county is looking at spending another $92,000 for updated aerial pictometry photos in 2018 to give it current data. The last comprehensive photo map of the county was taken in 2015 and cost $76,000.

Through the use of pictometry, Swift County has been developing a comprehensive inventory of the land and structures that cover its 752 square miles. Starting in 2015, the county contracted to have high-resolution aerial photos taken and then entered in to a computerized geographic information system (GIS) database.

Wed
17
May
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Gail & Steve Svor selected as band festival marshals

Gail and Steve Svor are this year’s Pioneerland Band Festival grand marshals.

Steve and Gail Svor have been selected as this year’s grand marshals for the Pioneerland Band Festival set for Wednesday, June 14.

With all the road construction going on downtown Benson this spring and summer some people have been wondering how much the band festival is going to be disrupted. While there will be a lot of orange cones around, some sidewalks torn up, and street work taking place, City Manager Rob Wolfington said Monday that the construction contract specifically says that work will stop for the band festival and Kid Day.

The parade route for the band festival should be the same as in previous years. It will start on west Minnesota U.S. Highway 12 by Runnings and Do-Mat’s Family Foods, proceed east on Minnesota Avenue (U.S. 12), then turn north on 14th Street North and go to the Benson High School.

Fri
05
May
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Monday’s snow may have broken a record

Benson tied its all-time May snowfall record when at least 2.1 inches fell early Monday morning. It also snowed 2.1 inches May 3, 1954.

Officially, the city saw 2.0 inches by 7 a.m., but the snow was still falling when that measurement was taken at the city’s wastewater treatment plant by staff that provide the National Weather Service statistics. At least another tenth of an inch of snow fell after that reading.

Seeing snowflakes in May is not all that uncommon. It has happened 14 years out of the past 64 years. However, most of those years it is just a few snowflakes that briefly appear and are gone as they hit the ground. Only three times in those 64 years has snow accumulated to the point of turning the ground white – 1954, 1966 and now 2017.

What is even more rare is to see more snow fall in May than in April. This past April the area only received one-tenth of an inch of snow. Only twice now, 1954 and 2017, has May recorded more snow than April.

Fri
05
May
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Benson commits $10,000 annually toward daycare

Benson’s City Council agreed Monday night to commit up to $10,000 annually to support the daycare center for infants and toddlers being established by Benson Public Schools.

Supt. Dennis Laumeyer told the council that the District 777 Board of Education voted to submit an application to the State of Minnesota requesting permission to provide daycare for 16 infants and 28 toddlers. It has also agreed to subsidize the cost of the operation by up to $10,000 annually if it experiences a loss on the operation, he said.

It is not the intent of the school board to run the daycare at a loss, Laumeyer said, but the first year of operations will have upfront capital costs for equipment that could total around $50,000. It will also have costs associated with remodeling facilities to provide for the daycare operation that it plans to locate in the basement of the Junior High School.

Wed
03
May
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NSP agrees to pay city nearly $23 million in compensation for losing power plant

Fibrominn, now Benson Power, LLC, under construction in 2006. The plant would shut in the summer of 2018 if NSP/Xcel Energy buys it from investors.

By Reed Anfinson

Publisher

Swift County Monitor-News

Monday night the Benson City Council unanimously agreed to back Northern States Power’s (NSP) efforts to buy and likely close the Benson Power, LLC, electric generation plant in exchange for compensation that could total more than $23 million.

NSP is the parent corporation of Xcel Energy.

A substantial portion of that compensation could come in the form of $20 million for economic development efforts in the city to help it replace the jobs and economic vitality it would lose if the plant were closed. There would be four payments made to the city between 2018 and 2021.

Back when it was being planned and built in the early 2000s, Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) estimated the plant would provide an annual economic boost to the area of $8 to $10 million.

Fri
28
Apr
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County hurting for STS workers

Through the years Swift County Environmental Services has used people serving time in the county’s Law Enforcement Center jail to help sort recyclables and other waste.

Working under the state’s Sentence to Service (STS) program, the inmates can work time off their jail time and earn money to pay off fines. In return, the county gets relatively cheap labor.

Offenders in the STS program can work off fines at the rate of $8 an hour for their labor and get one day off their sentence for every 16 hours worked. The fines get paid first, then the time gets reduced.

But now the recyclables are piling up and the facility is falling behind on other necessary work, Environmental Services Director Scott Collins told the county board of commissioners at their meeting April 18 due to a lack of STS workers. There hasn’t been a single STS worker at the facility so far this year, he said.

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