News

Fri
24
Mar
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New police station moves step closer to reality

Chief Ian Hodge described how the Loen building would be laid out during a tour Monday night.

Marcus to oversee work on Loen building

Converting the Loen Electric building in southwest Benson to become the new Benson Police Department headquarters moved a step closer Monday night with the approval of a construction management agreement with Marcus Construction of Willmar.

Marcus presented an estimated cost for the renovation of the 3,602 square-foot Loen building along with a 1,755-square-foot addition of $381,925. That is slightly less than the $388,000 city estimate. Marcus will also act as the construction manager.

Rather than hirer an architect to develop detailed plans and specifications for the work on the new police department, with the contract going to a single general contractor, the city is hiring Marcus to break the work down into smaller packages, City Manager Rob Wolfington said.

Fri
24
Mar
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Hydrologists solve mystery of Devil’s Kettle waterfall

Hydrologists have solved the mystery of the Devil’s Kettle waterfall, proving that the “missing water” actually re-enters the river from underground.

A waterfall that famously “disappears” into a hole at Judge C.R. Magney State Park near Grand Marais actually soon re-enters the river from underground, according to new research.

In fall 2016, hydrologists from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources found nearly identical volumes of water flowing both above the Devil’s Kettle waterfall and below it. Above the waterfall, stream gauges measured the flow of the Brule River at 123 cubic feet per second. Below the waterfall, gauges detected 121 feet per second.

“In the world of stream gauging, those two numbers are essentially the same and are within the tolerances of the equipment,” explained DNR springshed mapping hydrologist Jeff Green. “The readings show no loss of water below the kettle, so it confirms the water is resurging in the stream below it.”

Fri
10
Mar
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Indoor pool supporters seek to see facility open again

Group offers financial help, but school board says it needs to study building options further

Though a group of area residents said they were willing to raise funds to pay for some of the cost of keeping the Benson High School indoor swimming pool open, the board of education was reluctant to give them any encouragement.

The group also told the board at its meeting last Tuesday that they would be willing to boost the number of people who use the pool.

With a 5-2 vote last May, the school board voted to close the indoor swimming pool by June 1. It cited low utilization of the pool along with an annual cost of $37,210 to maintain in justifying its closing. The district was also looking at spending another $5,000 to $25,000 on work that included replacing the pool’s lighting.

Fri
10
Mar
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Wastewater plant, water tower need upgrading soon

Benson’s wastewater treatment plant is facing an estimated $2.9 million in major renovations to upgrade equipment that is operating well beyond its expected lifetime. Those repairs will need to take place in the next couple years.

The city’s 500,000-gallon water tower also needs work that includes painting both the inside and outside of the tank. But this isn’t any simple paint job. Painting of the water tower is an integral part of its integrity and upkeep, Benson City Manager Rob Wolfington told the city council at its meeting Monday night.

It could cost between $500,000 and $600,000 to have the water tower painted.

When it is being painted it will be out of service, which means the city’s drinking water system will have to provide the pressure needed for the homes and businesses in the community without the water tower.

Fri
10
Mar
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February second warmest on record

Ice went off the small lakes in the area this week and could set records for going out early on larger lakes.
When the high hit 73 degrees Monday afternoon it broke the record high tempeature for March 6. The day also saw tornadoes form in Minnesota, the earliest date for a tornado in state history. The previous record was March 18, 1968. How different Tuesday morning was with 2.5 inches of snow on the ground  and the temp falling to 25 degrees.

March 6 sees record high of 73 degrees

Monday the Benson area broke its sixth high temperature record of the year when the high hit 73 degrees. It broke the old record high for March 6 of 71 degrees set back in 2000.

Prior to Monday, the earliest the Benson area had seen the temperature hit 73 degrees was March 15 (2015 and 1968.)

Sunday’s high hit 66 degrees, and though it was 32 degrees above the average temperature for March 5 of 34 degrees, it fell 5 degrees short of the record high for the date. That record was set in 2000 when it reached 71 degrees.

In 2000, there were six consecutive days with record highs between March 3 and March 8 with three of those record highs at 71 degrees.

February 2017 went down as the second warmest on record for the Benson area and one of the warmest in the history of the State of Minnesota.

Fri
10
Mar
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Appleton prison bill waiting to be heard in state Legislature

A bill that could put the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton in a better position to house prisoners at some point in the future has been introduced in the Minnesota House by District 17A Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg. In the Senate, District 17 Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, is carrying the bill.

However, the bill has yet to have a hearing and with the deadlines rapidly approaching in the Minnesota Legislature for bills to be heard, time is running out for it to move forward this year.

The bill deadlines are:
  By March 10 committees must act favorably on bills in the house of origin;
  By March 17 committees must act favorably on bills, or companion bills, that met the first deadline in the other house; and,
  By March 31 committees must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills.

Fri
03
Mar
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Benson man charged with swindling over $63,000 from friend

Andy Lynn Jaeger, 51, Benson, has been charged with one felony count of theft by swindle for allegedly taking a local friend for more than $63,000.

According to the complaint filed in 8th Judicial District Court in Benson, Jaeger played upon the emotions of his friend in claiming he had cancer, couldn’t afford the treatments, and would be cut off if he couldn’t come up with the money to pay his bills.

Jaeger was in court last Wednesday for an omnibus hearing on the charges with his next court date set for April 26. The maximum penalty for the crime is a $100,000 fine and 20 years in jail.

Fri
03
Mar
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House, Senate pass Sunday liquor bill

Rep. Tim Miller votes no, Sen. Andrew Lang yes

With both the Minnesota House and Senate having voted to approve a bill that would end the 159-year-old ban on Sunday liquor sales in the state, the law is the closest it has ever been to passing.

A conference committee of the House and Senate now needs to meet to work out slight differences in language in the two bills. Members must agree on what time they will allow stores to open on Sundays. The Senate bill would let the stores open at 11 a.m. while the House version allows for a 10 a.m. opening. Stores would close at 6 p.m. under both bills. Local governments are also given more power to opt out of Sunday sales as well as set hours under the Senate bill.

The House can take up the Senate-passed bill and pass it to bypass the conference committee process. If a revised bill is approved, or the House supports the Senate bill, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has said that he will sign the legislation.

Fri
03
Mar
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Hospital votes to build assisted living facility

After more than two years of studying and debating how to move forward with building an assisted living and memory care facility, the Swift County-Benson Health Services governing board voted unanimously Monday night to move ahead with a project.

It is estimated the project will cost about $10.5 million and will be financed by revenue bonds. Those bonds will be paid off by hospital earnings and do not involve any general obligation bond backing from the City of Benson or Swift County.

The security for the revenue bonds will be the revenues earned by the hospital and its assisted living operation.

It is hoped that ground can be broken for the project by late July or early August.

Fri
03
Mar
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Day care discussions continue, but solution remains elusive

There are four options for adding day care for infants and toddlers to Benson Public Schools, Supt. Dennis Laumeyer told the board of education at its meeting Feb. 21.

It can build a new building, buy and renovate a current building in the community, lease a building, or remodel space it has in its buildings.

Adding six classrooms onto the west side of the Northside Elementary that would provide space for expanded day care classes would cost an estimated $3.2 million. However, another $2.1 million would need to be spent adding a new kitchen and cafeteria at the Northside. That cafeteria would free up the Northside’s gymnasium space, which is currently used for breakfast and lunch. It would also provide a multi-purpose community room that could be used for a variety of events.

The Running’s building, which used to house Do-Mat’s grocery store, could be leased for around $37,000 a year, but would require $500,000 in upgrade.

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