News

Tue
21
Apr
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CNH renews civic center lease with Benson

Late last year Benson’s CNH gave the City of Benson notice that it would be ending its lease for the northern portion of the city-owned civic center.
That lease has provided $26,000 in revenue annually that has been used to improve the south portion of the building that houses the indoor skating rink used for the Benson Public Schools hockey program. In recent years, the funds have helped build locker rooms and a heated viewing area as well as pay for ongoing repairs.
With the lease expected to end early this year, the city and Benson schools had started a conversation about the potential uses of the space by the school district. Some businesses in the community had also expressed an interest in the space.

Tue
21
Apr
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Levy opponents see plan as too costly, lacking detail

For the past couple months an organized effort has been underway to gather support against a proposed $18.7 million Benson Public Schools building bond referendum. That vote is set to take place May 12.
Last Thursday night those opposed to the project conducted their third meeting to explain to supporters and the public why they believe the project is ill conceived and hasn’t been clearly explained to voters.
Acting as the spokesperson at the meeting in the Swift County Law Enforcement Center, Torning Township farmer Allen Saunders told the group of about 40 people gathered that the intent of the meeting was not to complain or attack anyone. He said those who had organized the meeting appreciated the work the school administrative and board members had done on the proposed building project, though they didn’t support it.

Wed
15
Apr
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Avian influenza claims 7th county turkey farm-May 12

While the pace of the spread of avian influenza seems to be slowing, it is now striking closer to home. The last two farms reported infected with the deadly virus have both been in Swift County.
They bring the number of infected facilities in the county to seven, according to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.
In all, 85 farms have now been hit by the avian influenza in the state with nearly 5.7 million turkeys now dead from the disease or euthanized because they were in barns that had been infected.
The number of turkeys lost at Swift County farms six and seven were still pending as of Tuesday morning.
The virus has also struck three Minnesota chicken farms killing 1.57 million layers. In Iowa, more than 25 million layer chickens are dead. That represents more than 40 percent of Iowa’s egg laying chicken population. There is already talk of a potential short-term egg shortage based on the losses in the two states.

Wed
08
Apr
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Agralite receives $1 million USDA loan

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a $1 million Rural Economic Development Loan for Agralite Electric Cooperative.
These funds will assist with construction of a railroad unloading facility and rail spur capable of supplying 1.5 million gallons of propane to the terminal just west Benson along U.S. Highway 12.
“This is great news that will help to ensure Minnesotans have access to the propane needed to heat their homes during the fall and winter months when people need it the most,” 7th District U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said. “Making important infrastructure improvements is necessary to providing sufficient propane supplies for Minnesota communities.”
The $1 million loan will assist with the expansion of Alliance Midstream.

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Wed
08
Apr
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Planning commission delays action on shooting range

Landowners and residents near where a proposed shooting range would be located northeast of Benson showed up at Monday’s Swift County Planning Commission hearing to oppose the project.
An estimated 40 people filled the commissioners’ meeting room to raise objections about noise, safety, the impact on property       values, the impact of shooting noise on livestock in the area, concerns about drivers being distracted by the shooting, and property rights.
The planning commission tabled action on the Benson Sportsman’s Club conditional use permit and will do a site visit to assess the property, plans for the range and the proposed range’s proximity to area homes and farms.
Swift County’s Board of Commissioners was scheduled to act on the conditional use permit at its meeting Tuesday, but due to the planning commission’s tabling it board action has also been delayed.

Thu
02
Apr
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Easter Egg Hunt set for Saturday

First Evangelical Free Church is hosting an Easter Egg Hunt for all area children at 10 a.m., Saturday, April 4 at the church grounds located at the south edge of town.
The event will include a chance for children to find eight eggs, which can be exchanged for  bag of candy and an Easter activity booklet.
Children can also stay for the Resurrection Easter Egg presentation and a chance to sign up for door prizes, which will be handed out at the end of the program.  They must be present to win the door prizes.

 

Photo:  The egg hunt was previously at the recreation fields in north Benson, but the event has been taken on now by the First E Free Church on Benson's south side.

Thu
02
Apr
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Plans for assisted living facility moving forward

Construction of an assisted living facility that would include independent living quarters as well as a dementia unit has moved from an idea to pursuing making the project a reality.
Benson’s Planning Commission will be meeting Monday to start the process of rezoning the land on which the facility is to be built from residential single family housing to multiple-unit housing. That process starts with a request form the property owner then goes through the public hearing process as an ordinance is presented to change the zoning.
The proposed site is west of Minnesota Highway 29 north between the highway and the Hawleywood residential development. It is also just across the highway from the baseball fields at the Northside Recreation Area.
An advantage of the site is that the facility would be highly visible to people traveling through the community.

Tue
24
Mar
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Rail tax plan aimed at improving safety

If a proposal by Gov. Mark Dayton to put an additional tax on railroads is passed Swift County could receive nearly $123,000 annually to address crossings safety issues.
The City of Benson would receive more than $27,000 each year while Appleton would get $35,472.  In all, Swift County’s eight towns would receive $91,437 a year to improve the safety at crossings in their communities.
In all, Dayton’s proposal would spend $330 million over the next 10 years to provide safer rail crossings. He is also recommending $3.1 in funding for a new training facility at Camp Ripley to provide hands on training for emergency managers and first responders regarding oil train derailments and other hazardous material spills.

Tue
24
Mar
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Snow delays spring; lessens fire threat

After seeing a stretch of nine days in the middle of March where high temperatures averaged nearly 60 degrees, including a high of 73 degrees March 15, it seemed the area was well on its way into spring. But winter has made a return visit.
Four inches of snow fell Sunday covering ground that had been snow free since March 8.
More snow was forecast to fall Tuesday into Wednesday though how much the area will get depends on how warm it is when the precipitation falls. Highs are forecast to be around 40 Tuesday and Wednesday, which means some of the precipitation could come as rain.
March is the snowiest month of the year averaging 8.55 inches. It has the record for the most snow in any single month of the year with 37.2 inches in 1965.

Photo:  The Heike family in Benson hated wasting "perfectly good snow" today and expressed their un-spring-like sentiments in an upside down snowman.

Tue
24
Mar
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Waldbillig hired as new chief executive officer of Swift County-Benson Hospital

Kurt Waldbillig has been hired as the new chief executive officer of Swift County-Benson Hospital following a nationwide search.
While his hiring was approved by the hospital’s governing board, Waldbillig is an employee of Rice Memorial Hospital working for SCBH through a management contract.
Waldbillig takes over for Frank Lawatsch who served as the hospital’s CEO from August 1997 to February this year.
As the search for Lawatsch’s replacement started over 90 applicants submitted their resumes. That number was pared down to eight with those candidates reviewed by the hospital governing board’s search committee. Five of the candidates were brought to Benson for on-site interviews with three selected for second interviews with Waldbillig eventually offered the job. Waldbillig’s first day on the job was Monday.

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