News

Fri
03
Feb
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County board votes 3-2 to offer administrator’s job to Baker

Swift County’s Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 in a special meeting Friday to offer the position of county administrator to Kelsey Baker after its first choice for the job turned it down.

Larry Timmerman, the senior program evaluator for Ramsey County Health & Wellness/Economic Growth and Community Investment, turned the job down last week after the county board voted 3-2 to offer him the administrator’s job.

In a letter to the board, Timmerman said that at this time the offer was not in the best interests of his family, the most important people to him. He added that knowing at least two of the commissioners preferred Ms. Baker he hoped that the entire board would

Fri
03
Feb
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Breen’s fountain sees booming business in its final days

Breen’s fountain coffee regulars, from left, Paul Gandrud, Don Wilcox and Mark Kettelkamp play “the numbers game” for who will pay the bill.
Laree and Vyke Breen struggled with the decision to close the Breen’s fountain for a decade, but in the end it came down to the need for more space for the pharmacy and a steadily declining clientele.

The era of the ‘Big Brave’ comes to an end

Monday afternoon Florence Griffin, the wife of the late Dr. Richard Griffin of Benson, and son Tim were having one last lunch at Breen’s Pharmacy. They had come from Cold Springs to take in a nostalgic moment at the Breen’s Fountain before it was set to close at the end of the day Tuesday.

They, like many others over the past two weeks, since the advertisement ran in the Swift County Monitor-News Jan. 18 announcing the fountain was closing Jan. 31, made a special trip for a last visit to the fountain. But there were plenty of local people filling the booths, seated at the tables, and perched on blue stools as well.

Last Saturday the fountain was full of people visiting for one last Big Brave (burger, fries and a thick made-from-ice-cream shake), or Little Brave (burger, fries and a pop,) or just one last chocolate shake all by its delicious self.

Fri
27
Jan
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County sets special meeting after administrator job offer turned down

With a 3-2 vote Jan. 17, the Swift County Board of Commissioners offered the job of county administrator to Larry Timmerman. However, Sunday Timmerman notified commissioners that he was declining the job offer.

Commissioners have now set a special meeting for Friday at 1 p.m. to consider their options. It is likely that they will offer the job to Kelsey Baker, a candidate whom two of the county board members had supported over Timmerman.

Since 2014, Timmerman has been the senior program evaluator for Ramsey County Health & Wellness/Economic Growth and Community Investment. Prior to that he served as the county administrator for Wabasha County in 2013 and the senior planner for the Washington County Office of Administration from 2007 to 2013.

Fri
27
Jan
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Four temperature records broken in the past week

After a bitter stretch of cold weather that dominated the first two weeks of January the temperatures have dramatically turned around. Between Thursday and Sunday four record high low temperatures were set.

A warm southerly flow of air and cloudy skies the past week helped keep temperatures steady at or above the freezing mark for four consecutive days.

Those lows were 12 to 15 degrees above the average high temperatures for mid-January, which are 19 to 20 degrees. They were 32 to 35 degrees above the average lows of 0 to 1 degree above zero for the Jan. 19 to 22 period.

The warmest January low on record is 37 degrees set Jan. 27, 1989. It came during a six-day stretch from Jan. 24 to Jan. 29 when lows ranged from 31 to 37 degrees. The 35-degree lows recorded Jan. 19, 20 and 21 this year tie for second place for the highest low temperature in January. The low was also 35 degrees Jan. 9, 2002.

Fri
27
Jan
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County takes next step in $4.5 million courthouse renovation

Formal plans and specifications for a nearly $5 million renovation of the Swift County Courthouse and an upgrade of Countryside Public Health will be sought in anticipation of seeking bids later this spring.

County commissioners voted 4-1 at their Jan. 17 meeting to proceed with the projects, which will be paid for by general obligation bonds. Property owners in Swift County will pay the bonds off.

Commissioners Gary Hendrickx, District 1-Appleton, Pete Peterson, District 3-south Benson, Joe Fox, District 4-Hegbert Township, and Eric Rudningen, District 5-Kerkhoven, voted for the motion while Commissioner Ed Pederson, District 2-north Benson, voted against it citing concerns about the cost.

 

Countryside Public Health
Nearly $490,000 in work is needed at the five-county regional headquarters of Countryside Public Health in Benson for basic maintenance of the building.

Fri
20
Jan
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Talk of using Appleton prison underway at the state Legislature

Earlier this month the Swift County’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with Goff Public to provide government and public relations services to help with promoting use of Appleton’s empty prison.

Their action came in anticipation that the Legislature could renew the conversation about the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) using the vacant 1,600-bed prison to relieve overcrowding in state prisons.

It would also allow the DOC to take nearly 500 state prisoners sitting in county jails and place them in a facility where they would have access to state education programs. Those programs are aimed at teaching inmates skills that will help them avoid breaking the law again when they are out and ending up back in prison. County jails have no such programs.

Fri
20
Jan
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Do-Mat’s opens new Benson grocery store

The new Do-Mat’s Family Foods grocery store also houses Lewis Drug and Fischer Eye Center. It was a $3.5 million investment in the future of Do-Mat’s and the community.

Lewis Drug, Fischer Eye Center also in new building

“Wow!” is one of the most common expressions owners Tim and Carol Mattheisen, and store manager Matt Mattheisen, have heard as people walk through their new grocery store along the south side of U.S. 12 west in Benson.

It was just more than four months from when the first tree was removed Aug. 20 from the building site on which Do-Mat’s Family Foods now sits until the doors opened for business last Thursday.

“It looks like a Byerly’s or a Hy-Vee,” their customers are saying. “Like a store you would see in Minneapolis.”

Fri
20
Jan
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Administrator job offer delayed

After interviewing three candidates for the Swift County administrator’s position last Friday, the Swift County board of commissioners voted to postpone the discussion and potential job offer until its Tuesday, Jan. 17 meeting.

Commissioners interviewed Kelsey Baker who is the executive director of The Legends at Heritage Place in Sartell; Larry Timmerman who is the senior program evaluator for Ramsey County Health & Wellness/Economic Growth and Community Investment; and Bradley Alberts who was the the Pope County coordinator at the time the interview was scheduled.

However, ahead of the Friday interviews, the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood reported that Alberts had “abruptly” resigned his position during a performance evaluation. His resignation came during a Dec. 27 end-of-the year meeting.

The report gave no reason as to why Alberts had resigned. He had joined the county May 31, 2016.

 

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.

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