News

Fri
06
Jul
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Civic Center bids higher than expected

When the District 777 Board of Education budgeted for improvements to the north end of the Benson Civic Center this past February, it set the expenditure ceiling at $695,600.

At a special school meeting Monday noon in the superintendent’s office, the board reviewed bids opened June 21 that were substantially higher than expected.

Just the base bids ranged from $493,000 to $800,945. However, the base bids came with three additional construction add-ons that raised the price to between $834,100 and $1.125 million. Those alternate bids included adding a gymnastics pit, adding ceiling insulation and protection, and adding fire protection.

But it isn’t just the higher cost that presents a challenge for the school board; it is also the Civic Center’s location in a flood plain. Under state law, the school board can’t spend more than half the value of a building located in a flood plain on improvements.

Fri
06
Jul
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$4 million payment coming to city next week

With Xcel Energy’s purchase of Benson Power, LLC, finalized last Friday, the City of Benson is now scheduled to receive a $4 million payment next week for future economic development efforts.

Another $16 million in payments is to follow on June 1 over the next three years. In each 2019 and 2020, the city is scheduled to receive $6 million in payments. It is to get a final $3 million payment bringing the total of the four payments to $19 million.

Those funds are intended to be used to replace the loss the city will experience in jobs, economic activity and local tax base due to Xcel’s plans to shut down Benson Power and level the site.

Fri
06
Jul
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N.D. PSC votes to let Xcel shut down Benson Power

North Dakota’s Public Service Commission  voted unanimously June 27 to approve Xcel Energy’s plan to purchase and shut down  Benson Power, LLC.

Xcel notified the City of Benson last Friday that financial closure of the deal with Benson Power’s East Coast insurance company investor owners had taken place, City Manager Rob Wolfington said.

Based in downtown Minneapolis, Xcel Energy has a single subsidiary for its electrical and gas businesses in North Dakota and Minnesota.  As that two-state subsidiary, Northern States Power Company (NSP) was the entity that petitioned the PSC for relief from the agreements governing the future of Benson Power.

The question before the North Dakota PSC was, “Is NSP’s proposal to terminate its biomass power purchase agreement with Benson Power, LLC, acquire the Benson facility and subsequently close the facility prudent?”

Fri
06
Jul
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Redesign upgrades golf club

Benson Golf Club Board Chair Jerry Peterson, at left, gives the Benson City Council a tour Monday night of the improvements recently made to the exterior of the clubhouse and the grounds.

When it completed its regular agenda Monday evening, the Benson City Council drove to the city-owned golf club and course to see the recent improvements to the clubhouse and grounds.

While the city owns the facility, it is operated by the membership through an elected board of directors. As the population of the area has fallen over the past several decades, and as more golf courses have been built, it has been harder for the club to make ends meet.

Weather during the playing season and the health of the area’s economy can also have an impact on revenues earned and expenses. Unusually heavy rainfalls in past years have flooded the course while severe windstorms have downed numerous trees, causing it to close temporarily for short periods. A near record cold April this year led to little play that month.

Fri
29
Jun
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More than 70 show up to hear about school building proposal

Absentee ballots available for levy, statewide elections, starting Friday
 

 

More than 70 people attended the first meeting sponsored by Benson Public Schools to inform the public about the purpose of the proposed $26.3 million building levy referendum to be voted on Aug. 14.

On hand to outline the project’s scope and cost were Supt. Dennis Laumeyer, architect Paul Youngquist of Architects Rego + Youngquist of St. Louis Park, and Andrea Uhl of Ehlers, a Roseville public finance advising company that has put together information on the financial impact of the proposed levy on taxpayers.

Also speaking at the meeting were Eric Peterson, Jesse Hughes and Tim Nagler, three citizens who have been deeply involved throughout the whole process of developing the proposed building project. Peterson is in the farm implement business; Hughes is a real estate agent and farmer; Nagler farms.

School board members attended the meeting as well....

Fri
29
Jun
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Swift County considers affiliation with PrimeWest

Multi-county group works with Medicaid population

With an upfront cost of nearly $1 million, Swift County is now looking at affiliating with PrimeWest Health to provide Medicaid recipients health care coverage.

Payment into the system would be made in 2019 and 2020, but the county board is hoping that the payment period can be extended to three or four years for the unexpected expense.

When Swift County joined 11 other counties in forming the Southern Prairie Community Care cooperative more than seven years ago, it was looking to change the model for providing care to the region’s 27,000 Medicaid patients. It was also looking for savings over what Medicaid programs cost through UCare and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Fri
29
Jun
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SCBHS accepts CEO Waldbillig’s resignation

Swift County-Benson Health Services CEO Kurt Waldbillig (in blue long-sleeved shirt speaking) submitted his resignation to the governing board at Monday night’s meeting. He has taken a job at the Meeker County Hospital.

Kurt Waldbillig, Swift County-Benson Health Services CEO, has accepted a job in Litchfield and will be leaving at the end of August.

Since arriving in Benson early in 2015 he has been instrumental in guiding significant changes at the hospital and clinic that are expected to turn the operation from that was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to one that is profitable.

The groundbreaking ceremony for Scandi Haven Village, a 46-unit assisted living facility with 18 units dedicated to memory care, this past April was a major achievement he helped guide. He was also instrumental in SCBHS taking over clinic services in Benson from Affiliated Community Medical Centers (ACMC).

Fri
29
Jun
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Krieger earns MVP for KMS softball team

Katie Krieger earned MVP honors for the KMS softball team this year.

The KMS softball team had another great season in 2018, finishing fourth in the Section 3A Softball Tourney, placing second in the Camden Conference, and also finishing the season with a 19-4 overall record.  The Saints went 3-2 during the section tourney, but had their season end with a 7-2 loss to Lac qui Parle in the third-fourth place game.  LQP went on to lose to Wabasso (2-1) in the next round and Wabasso fell to Edgerton-SWC in the championship game, 4-3.

Tracy Area won this year’s Camden Conference title after edging KMS late in the season, 17-7 and 9-8.  The Panthers however, were upset in the first round of the Section 3AA Softball Tournament.  KMS went 16-2 in the conference this year, giving the Saints a 210-16 record against conference opponents over the last 16 years combined.

Fri
22
Jun
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31st Pioneerland Band Festival

The KMS Marching Band performs in the Pioneerland Band Festival last Thursday. It was a windy evening, proving a challenge for those who had to toss flags high into the air.
Members of the Benson High School Marching Band Allie Mitteness, Logan Johnson, Bella Wolter, Brenna Knutson, and Katelyn Tolifson perform in last Thursday’s Pioneerland Band Festival parade.

Pictured, top: The KMS Marching Band performs in the Pioneerland Band Festival last Thursday. It was a windy evening, proving a challenge for those who had to toss flags high into the air.

 

Pictured, bottom: Members of the Benson High School Marching Band Allie Mitteness, Logan Johnson, Bella Wolter, Brenna Knutson, and Katelyn Tolifson perform in last Thursday’s Pioneerland Band Festival parade. Benson’s marching band led off the the parade, but did not compete as the host of 12 other bands the came to the community.
 

 

To see more color photos from the Pioneerland Band Festival parade, pick up a copy of the June 20, 2018 edition of the Swift County Monitor-News!

Fri
22
Jun
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Meeting on school building levy Monday

Next Monday District 777 is hosting the first of three community informational meetings about its $26.3 million building bond levy to be voted on Aug. 14.

The meeting will take place in the Benson High School cafeteria starting at 6 p.m. and is scheduled to last until 7:30 p.m. Meetings are also planned for Wednesday, July 18, and Tuesday, Aug, 7, at the same times.

Those attending the meetings should be aware that road construction is underway that blocks off entering the school senior high parking lot from the east or south. To get to the parking lot, take either 15th Street North by St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, or Oregon Avenue from the west and then turn north on 15th Street North.

District 777’s Board of Education turned to a citizens group made up of people representing three groups in the district – farmers and landowners, business owners and people from the community at large, and school staff.

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