News

Wed
14
Oct
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County broadband application 1 of 44

Swift County’s application for broadband funding is one of 44 that were submitted to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) by the Sept. 23 deadline.

In all, the 44 grant applications submitted are seeking $29.06 million to expand broadband coverage for their areas. However, just $10.58 million was made available by the Legislature for this year’s funding round.

Last year, DEED received 40 applications seeking $44.2 million, but had $20 million available in its Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program.

In July, Swift County pledged $7.5 to $8 million in bond funds to help Federated Telephone expand broadband fiber optic cable to unserved areas in the eastern half of the county. County backing was essential to the broadband grant application Federated was submitting to DEED.

Wed
14
Oct
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Farmers taking in a record crop

Nearly perfect growing conditions this crop season is leading to record yields throughout Minnesota.

Former University of Minnesota Extension Agent Kent Thiesse writes in this week’s column on Page 7A that the USDA is estimating the 2015 Minnesota corn yield at a record level of 184 bushels per acre.

The 2015 Minnesota anticipated corn yield is well above the final 2014 average state corn yield of 156 bushels per acre, and 160 bushels per acre in 2013. The previous record corn yield was 177 bushels per acre in 2010.

The USDA Report estimated the 2015 Minnesota soybean yield at a record level of 48 bushels per acre, which compares to 41.5 bushels per acre in 2014 and 42.0 bushels per acre in 2013, Thiesse, who is now a vice president with MinnStar Bank in Lake Crystal, writes. The previous state record average yield was 45 bushels per acre in 2010.

Wed
14
Oct
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Record high set Oct. 11

When the high hit 91 degrees Sunday afternoon it set a record for Oct. 11 and became the latest date on which Benson has recorded a temperature of 90 degrees or higher. The old record for Oct. 11 was 84 degrees set in 1995.

Prior to Sunday, the latest in the year on which Benson had seen a 90-degree plus temperature was Oct. 5. In 1963, the city recorded a 93-degree high on that date.

Saturday was also an unusually warm day with the high reaching 81 degrees, but that was 4 degrees shy of the record for Oct. 10 of 85 degrees set in 1955.

Tue
22
Sep
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Soybean harvest underway in Minnesota

Minnesota farmers took advantage of an average 5.3 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending Sunday with crop harvest progressing well ahead of last year for most crops, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Harvest advanced for dry edible beans, corn for silage, potatoes, and sugarbeets; and started for corn for grain and soybeans. Farmers also harvested sweet corn.

Forty-one percent of Minnesota’s corn acreage was mature, 7 days ahead of last year but equal to the five-year average. Corn condition rated 88 percent good to excellent. Thirty percent of the state’s corn for silage crop was harvested during the week, reaching 67 percent.

Seventy-two percent of the soybean acreage was dropping leaves or beyond, 8 days ahead of last year and 5 days ahead of normal. Soybean harvest reached 12 percent. Soybean condition rated 78 percent good to excellent.

Tue
22
Sep
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Saterbak meets with Secretary of State Simon

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon was in Benson last week to meet with County Auditor Saterbak on election issues. Saterbak oversees elections conducted in the county.

Among the topics they discussed were developing a contingency plan for voting should an election day see bad weather that makes it difficult for people to get to the polls or an emergency situation that makes voting difficult; future funding for computerized election machines; and absentee and early voting options.

Tue
22
Sep
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County passes preliminary levy

A 4.5 percent preliminary increase in Swift County’s tax levy for 2016 was unanimously passed by the county board of commissioners at its meeting Sept. 15.

The increase would raise county taxes for next year’s net levy to $9,930,278, an increase of $423,313. The increase will go to cover added personnel costs, technology improvements, and increased costs of operations.

Commissioners were required by state law to adopt a preliminary levy prior to Sept. 15. While the final levy adopted in December can’t be increased over what was adopted last week, commissioners can vote to reduce the amount.

It took three motions, with the first two failing, before the county board could come to an agreement on how much to raise taxes for next year. The final amount was a compromise with some commissioners feeling it was too high and at least one thinking it was too low to meet the county’s needs.

Tue
08
Sep
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Train, tractor with disk collide near DeGraff Thursday

A Burlington Northern Santa Fe train and a John Deere tractor pulling a disk collided at a crossing just west of DeGraff last Thursday. The train struck the disk, breaking it into pieces, and dragging part of it with it down the tracks.
However, while the disk was mangled, Dan Kottshade, 28, New London, the driver of the John Deere 9560 R, escaped injury. He was headed north on Swift County Road 14 as the BNSF train approached from the east at approximately 40 mph. There is only a short distance between the crossing and Swift County Road 14’s intersection with U.S. Highway 12. Drivers approaching U.S. 12 have a stop sign.

Photo:  Part of the disk was dragged beneath the train.

Tue
08
Sep
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County board updated on prison potential use

Swift County’s two members of the Minnesota Legislature are cautiously optimistic that it will give serious consideration to using the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton rather than building a new facility in Rush City.
District 17 Sen. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, and District 17A Rep. Tim Miller, Republican-Prinsburg, met with the Swift County Board of Commissioners at their meeting last Tuesday to discuss what 2016 may bring for rural counties.
At the top of the list of issues for Swift County is the possible reopening of the prison in Appleton.
It is estimated that the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) has about 550 state prisoners in county jails throughout the state that it believes should be housed in state-run facilities. Further, it is projected that in less than three years there could be 900 to 1,000 inmates in facilities outside their system, County Administrator Mike Pogge-Weaver told the board of commissioners last month.

Fri
28
Aug
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12-county Southern Prairie off to good start

Medicaid costs lowered; care improving

Fri
28
Aug
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Hulberg honored for participating in federal CRP

It’s not often you get to mark two momentous occasions on one day. Last week, longtime Pope County farmer Art Hulberg was surrounded by family, friends, neighbors and a special guest from Washington, D.C. as he celebrated his 100th birthday and the 30th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)—a program he’s been a part of since its early years.
Val Dolcini, national administrator of the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), made the trek from his office in Washington, D.C. to personally shake Hulberg’s hand, wish him a happy birthday, and thank him for his participation in the CRP program.

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