News

Tue
30
Jun
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SCBH taking steps to turn around financial slide

Monday night’s presentation of the Swift County-Benson Hospital audit for 2014 confirmed what governing board members already knew – the local hospital is in an unsustainable financial slide. And the slope of that fall is getting steeper in 2015.
The principle reason for the fall off in revenues can be tied directly to fewer doctors working out of the Affiliated Community Medical Centers (ACMC) clinic in Benson, people seeking care outside the community, and the resulting loss in use of ancillary services at the hospital.
Though May proved to be a better month than expected, the hospital has lost more than $654,000 through the first five months of 2015.

Mon
29
Jun
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National Weather Service explains smoky sky

If you've wondered why the sky is such a strange color today, the National Weather Service in Grand Forks has an explanation:

"Smoke from fires in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan are filtering sunshine today. Temperatures will be held down into the upper 70s to near 80 for most areas. There will also be a few showers and storms mainly in the eastern part of Minnesota this afternoon."

(Please visit http://weather.gov/fgf for more information.)

Wed
17
Jun
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Enrollment for ARC and PLC safety-net programs underway

Eligible producers may now formally enroll in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for 2014 and 2015. The enrollment starts June 17 and ends Sept. 30.
 “The extensive outreach campaign conducted by USDA since the 2014 farm bill was enacted, along with extending deadlines, is central to achieving an expected high level of participation,” U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
“We worked with universities to simplify these complex programs by providing online tools so producers could explore how program election options would affect their operation in different market conditions; these tools were presented to almost 3,000 organizations across the country,” he said.

Tue
16
Jun
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Programs give farmers incentive to create bee habitat

Dan Gunderson
Minnesota Public Radio

On the edge of a narrow gravel road near Mahnomen, Fred Specht jumped from his truck and pointed out the site where he planted a patch of prairie four years ago.
“As you can see, it’s kind of low through there,” Specht said, “so you were always waiting on that low spot, and occasionally getting stuck.”
Specht said farming that small, oddly shaped corner of the field was inefficient because it took time to maneuver large farm equipment into it.
So it made sense to turn the land into pollinator habitat. Various U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs pay farmers to plant a mix of perennial native flowers and grasses to help support the bee population.
Scientists are trying to understand what’s killing bees, and one factor might be poor nutrition. In response, there’s a big push to provide more food for bees and other insects.

Tue
16
Jun
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Avian flu outbreaks slow, but impact still being felt

By Kent Thiesse
Farm Management Analyst & Vice President MinnStar Bank Lake Crystal

Tue
16
Jun
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Kid Day festivities planned; some changes to note

Benson’s annual Kid Day King and Queen selection process will be a little different this year with no interviews conducted, no float to pull in parades, and the coronation immediately after the Kid Day Carnival, Saturday afternoon in Roosevelt Park.
The city’s 85th annual Kid Day is set for Saturday and Sunday, July 18-19. The theme of this year’s event is “Come Be a Kid Again.”
The Kid Day King and Queen selection is open to all kids ages 8-12 as of July 1.  Children that would like to be considered for king or queen will just need to fill out the question in their handwriting, and have their parents fill out the necessary permission portion of the attached form.
The forms will need to be e-mailed or mailed to the Benson Kid Day, c/o Roger Ebnet, 1410 Kansas Avenue, Benson, MN  56215, or e-mail, bensonkidday@gmail.com

Photo: The 84th annual Benson Kid Day is July 18-19.

Tue
16
Jun
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With losses mounting, SCBH looking for solutions

Frustrated with the lack of recruitment of new doctors for Benson and facing mounting financial losses, the Swift County-Benson Hospital’s governing board directed CEO Kurt Waldbillig to present it with options for changing how it operates.
Those changes could involve the hospital starting its own clinic and hiring its own doctors. That option is attractive to some SCBH governing board members as they look to the success of hospitals and clinics around the area that are not part of the Affiliated Community Medical Centers group.
Benson saw ACMC end its relationship with new doctor Matt Dammeyer in April 2014 with Dr. Roger Bauer retiring that year as well. That has left Dr. Rick Horecka as the only staff physician at ACMC’s clinic in Benson. Benson High School graduate and now Dr. Josie (Thole) Syverson has committed to coming to Benson to join the clinic, but she will not complete her residency until August 2016.

Wed
03
Jun
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EPA proposes reduced ethanol blends

The Obama administration is proposing to reduce the overall amount of ethanol blended in the nation’s gasoline in coming years, a potential blow to renewable fuel companies that have pushed to keep high volumes of their product flowing into drivers’ gas tanks.
The move by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is unlikely to mean much for consumers or prices at the pump, but the ethanol policy has been popular in farm states like Minnesota that have profited over the years from higher corn prices linked to the use of corn-based ethanol.
But the added value that ethanol has given to corn prices also provides important additional revenues for farmers during downturns in commodity prices, the case for the past couple years now. Revenue earned from their investment in ethanol plants has further provided an important source of income at times as well.

Wed
03
Jun
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Farmers caught illegally pumping water face stiff fines

Editor’s note:
In a map put together by MPR last year, there are 26 irrigation wells in an area bounded by Benson, Appleton, Morris and Starbuck. In that same area, only eight of the wells had permits from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Most of those wells were along Minnesota Highway 9 west of Benson between Clontarf and Hancock. East of Benson and north of Minnesota Highway 9, there were four wells with only one permitted well.
Those who have yet to get their wells permitted could be facing stiff fines this summer.
Mark Steil
Minnesota Public Radio
Hoping to protect Minnesota’s groundwater supplies amid an irrigation boom, state officials this season will have new power to levy heavy fines on farmers pumping water illegally.

Wed
03
Jun
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New group has the Pioneerland Band Festival ready to go

When the Benson Area Chamber of Commerce announced last summer that it would no longer be sponsoring or working on community events, it left many in the community wondering what the future held for the Pioneerland Band Festival and Kid Day.
It now appears the future is bright for the first event that lies ahead for the community this year.
Benson’s 28th annual Pioneerland Band Festival is set for Sunday, June 14, starting at 6:30 p.m., with 11 bands coming to compete. Benson High School’s Marching Band will be the 12th band in the parade.
There is also a volunteer group working on the community’s 84th Kid Day coming up in July.
Heading up the effort to organize the Pioneerland Band Festival this year have been Benson High School Band Instructor Brock Duncan and vocal music teacher Shelly Mikkelson. Heather (Staton) Lehr has played a key role in handling the event’s finances.

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