News

Tue
10
Jan
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Lucas Olson wins special Benson council election

City Cleark along with election judges Susan Snow, Mary K.W. Langan, Pam Lawatch, and Jim Hilleren wait for voters to come in Tuesday morning. Voter turnout was very low partially due to a morning blizzard and cold, blustery conditions that continued thorugh the day.

Lucas Olson was elected Tuesday to complete the three years left in Jonathon Pogge-Weaver’s Benson City Council term. He received 95 vote beating out three challengers. Brad Johnson received 47 votes, Mike Fugleberg 42 and Larry Smith 37.

An early morning blizzard, with cold blustery conditions that continued through the day Tuesday, helped hold voter turnout down. Also, with the special council election the only race on the ballot, city officials were not expecting much of a turnout.

Total voter turnout was 222 votes with one ballot cast for a write-in candidate, but though the write-in box was checked, a name was not written in. In the 2015 Benson City Council election, there were 784 votes cast with 1,752 citizens registered. Voter turnout in 2015 was around 45 percent. Voter turnout for the special election is going to be under 15 percent.

Fri
06
Jan
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2016 was sixth warmest year on record for Benson area

2016 will go into the records books as the sixth warmest on record for the Benson area despite no 100 degree days and just nine days that hit 90 degrees or higher.

However, from January to June 2016 every month saw above average temperatures and 10 of 12 months were warmer than average. March was the third warmest on record falling behind 2000 and 2012. March’s mean temperature was 9.4 degrees above average and saw five high temperature records broken.

November was also the third warmest on record with the mean 10.5 degrees above the average.

The warm March weather led to many area lakes setting record early ice-out dates and the Benson Golf Course opened for play March 12. It opened March 15 in 2015, another very warm March.

Fri
06
Jan
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Four candidates seeking Benson City Council seat

Four people filed for the seat and will be on the Jan. 10 ballot - Mike Fugleberg, Brad Johnson, Larry D. Smith and Lucas Olson.

Special election set for next Tuesday

Benson voters will go to the polls Jan. 10 to elect someone to fill the remaining three years in the city council term of Jonathon Pogge-Weaver. The person elected will start his term immediately.

Four people filed for the seat and will be on the Jan. 10 ballot - Mike Fugleberg, Brad Johnson, Larry D. Smith and Lucas Olson. The person elected to the seat will serve through Jan. 5, 2020.

Voting will be in the Benson Armory from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. City Clerk Glen Pederson has had no absentee ballot requests for the election and it likely that voter turnout could be very low. If it is, with a four-way race, anyone could win with a relatively few votes.

Fri
30
Dec
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County okays budget with 4.3 percent levy increase

Swift County’s Board of Commissioners adopted a 4.3 percent increase in the property tax levy for 2017 raising it by nearly $610,00 to $10,382,921 at its Dec. 19 meeting.

At the same time, the county approved a budget for next year that projects $24,811,217 in revenues and $24,635,544 in expenditures – resulting in a budget surplus of $175,673. The 2016 budget called for $20,088,623 in revenues and expenses of $21,102,723 – a deficit of $444,458. However, the county was able to manage its expenses in 2016 and finished in the black.

A good share of the increase in the 2017 revenues and expenses is due to highway projects scheduled for next year including major work on Swift County Highway 6. Highway spending will be up $3.6 million in 2017 to $11,290,830 accounting for 46 percent of the total spending next year.

Fri
30
Dec
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Christmas weekend sees rain, ice, snow and 50 mph wind gusts

A steady rain fell Christmas Day causing considerable concern among City of Benson and Agralite Cooperative electric crews. With the temperature hovering around 32 degrees early in the day, it was feared that ice would coat the lines leading to breakages that would cut off power to customers.

Several times during the day, lights did flicker in Benson.

The icy conditions were also a concern to law enforcement and highway crews as roads in the area became increasingly slick.

While ice did form on the lines and roads, the temperatures warmed through the day to 37 degrees, eventually melting the ice that had formed.

In all, the Benson area received 81 hundredths of an inch of rain on Christmas Day. There was also thunder and lightening as the massive low pressure system moved through the upper Great Plains states. North Dakota, parts of South Dakota and northern Minnesota all saw cooler temperatures that created blizzard conditions....

 

Fri
30
Dec
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Promotion of Appleton prison to continue in 2017

Republican Rep. Tony Cornish, in black sweatshirt, chairs the Minnesota House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee. He will play a key role in the discussions about the state’s possible use of the Appleton prison.

Swift County is already gearing up to make another effort to get the State of Minnesota to lease or buy the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton.

At the county board’s meeting Dec. 19, Commissioner Gary Hendrickx, District 1-Appleton, reported that he and Commission Chair Pete Peterson, District 3-south Benson, had attended a meeting of representatives of lobbying firm Goff Public and CoreCivic, the owner of the prison.

CoreCivic is the new name of Corrections Corporation of America, the country’s largest owner of private prison facilities. It changed its name this past fall.

Fri
23
Dec
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A visit from the Santa Truck

With all the kids patiently waiting, the Santa Truck rounds the corner and heads toward the Benson Fire Hall.
Mrs. Claus (Shirley Manska) and Santa (Karl Manska) pose with a young child during the Santa Truck’s visit to the Benson Fire Hall, Monday.  All the kids had a great time visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus and each received a bag of treats.

Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their friends visited the Benson Fire Hall to meet with all the kids in Benson.  They were originally set to visit the community Saturday night, but that visit was postponed to Monday due to weather.  The Santa Truck made stops at Danvers, Clontarf, the Golden Living Center-Meadow Lane, and DeGraff before arriving at the Benson Fire Hall.

 

Pictured, top: With all the kids patiently waiting, the Santa Truck rounds the corner and heads toward the Benson Fire Hall.

Pictured, bottom: Mrs. Claus (Shirley Manska) and Santa (Karl Manska) pose with a young child during the Santa Truck’s visit to the Benson Fire Hall, Monday.  All the kids had a great time visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus and each received a bag of treats.
 

Fri
23
Dec
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NW Benson loses power durng Sunday’s frigid cold

On the coldest morning in nearly seven years the power in northwest Benson went out. It would stay out from around 8:30 Sunday morning until nearly 6 that night.

At the time the power went out, the temperature in Benson was near a minus 25 degrees after hitting a low of 28 below zero. The wind chill was a dangerous 40 and 45 below. While temperatures “warmed” through the morning to a minus 8 degrees by noon, the temperature never got above zero as city electric crews worked into the late afternoon to find out what was causing the outage.

As soon as the power went out, the city’s on-call electric crew responded, City Manager Rob Wolfington told the Benson City Council Monday night. As the crew tried to fix what it thought was causing the problem things continued to go wrong. A burned out transformer was replaced, but there were other problems down the line that caused fuses, some the size of a baseball bat, to blow, he said.

Fri
23
Dec
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Area sees coldest temps in seven years

When the temperature fell to a minus 28 degrees in Benson early Sunday morning it was the coldest temperature the area has seen in nearly seven years. Back in January 2010 it fell to 35 below zero Jan. 2 and 31 below Jan. 3.

The National Weather Service had issued a winter storm warning for western central Minnesota Friday with 3 to 6 inches of snow forecasted. But as the snow moved eastward, the NWS issued a wind chill warning as temperatures fell below zero Saturday and winds picked up gusting to 25 mph. Wind chills Saturday night fell as low as a minus 37 degrees.

Through the night the temperature continued to fall Saturday reaching a minus 24 degrees before midnight.

Fri
23
Dec
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Study says renovate Armory and build new city hall

A study of Benson’s 1927 Armory building recommends tearing off the two-story office space, adding a new entry and bathrooms, and building a new city hall/police department.

Armory main floor, gymnasium safe for public use
 

A structural and environmental study of the Benson Armory building shows that for the most part it is safe for the public to use.

However, it also says that the two-story front office space on the 1927 building should be removed and replaced. Engineering and architectural firm Widseth, Smith and Nolting (WSN) of Alexandria, did the study, with architect Reed Becker overseeing it.

Benson’s City Council had been exploring the possibility of remodeling the Armory for use as a new city hall, police department, or possibly both. However, during a tour of the building in October, it found mold growing in the basement, paint peeling off the walls, and pipes wrapped with a material that likely contained asbestos.

It led the council to order the environmental study to ensure the building was safe for the Benson High School gymnastics program use, for roller skating, walkers, and for events.

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