News

Fri
02
Mar
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School board reviews its safety, security measures

Locked facilities during the day, school police officer, awareness of potential problems keys

With each school shooting that happens in America, thousands of schools around the nation reexamine their active shooter drills and facility security. Benson Public Schools is no exception.

Following the killing of 14 students and three faculty Feb. 14 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida, District 777 Board of Education chair Chad Payne called Supt. Dennis Laumeyer.

“I don’t think either one of us slept much that night,” he told fellow school board members at their Feb. 20 regular meeting. Payne said he was looking for an update on where Benson Public Schools were as far as student safety and security.

“It isn’t right,” he said of the murder of the school children, choking up as made the statement.

Fri
02
Mar
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Financing signed for assisted living - memory care facility

With United States Department of Agriculture economic development assistance in hand, Swift County-Benson Health Services signed the financing deal with Bremer Bank of Willmar Friday that will fund construction of a new assisted living-memory care facility.

Bremer is lending $7.352 million toward a project with a total cost around $10 million. A $750,000 loan from the Sonsteng Foundation to SCBHS is helping with the project financing. The Sonsteng Foundation had also committed earlier to making a $50,000 annual donation to SCBHS for 10 years.

The SCBHS Foundation has committed around $300,000 toward the project. Past and future cash contributions from SCBHS are also counted as part of the financing package.

The financing leads the way to construction getting underway on a 46-unit assisted living facility of which 18 units will be dedicated to memory care. It is being constructed adjacent to the south side of Scofield Place and east of the SCBHS....

 

Fri
23
Feb
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Swift County GIS data is now available to the public

Swift County’s Geographic Information System (GIS) pictometry data is now on the county’s website and available to the public.

At their Feb. 6 meeting, the Swift County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to “go live” with the public-facing GIS interactive map the county has compiled.

Over the past three years, Swift County has been using aerial pictometry photos to develop a comprehensive inventory of the land and structures that cover its 752 square miles.

The high-resolution aerial photos have entered in to a computerized geographic information system (GIS) database and overlaid with a vast amount of data.

Fri
23
Feb
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Flu deaths continue to rise in Minnesota

State health officials say three more children have died of complications of the flu, bringing the number of Minnesota children who have died of influenza this season to four.

The number of Minnesotans hospitalized with flu symptoms has topped 4,200. That’s the highest number since the Minnesota Department of Health began tracking flu hospitalizations in 2008.

Preliminary figures released Thursday suggest this year’s flu vaccine is 36 percent effective overall, and only 25 percent effective against this season’s most dominant strain, Type A H3N2.

While the flu epidemic appeared to be easy a couple weeks ago, some spikes in new cases have been reported. It is unknown how long the flu outbreak will last, but as the winter weather continues to force people to congregate inside, attending sporting events, meetings, and socializing in public places, the chances for the spread of the flu remain high.

Fri
23
Feb
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Area residents complete Blandin community leadership retreat

Twenty-four residents of the Benson, Kerkhoven, Murdock and Sunburg areas returned Feb. 2 from a five-day leadership retreat, the first segment of an intense eight-day training provided by the Blandin Community Leadership Program (BCLP). The team also will participate in three follow-up workshops.

The goal of the Blandin Community Leadership Program is to develop and train a broad base of local leaders to build healthy communities. Topics covered during the retreat included: identifying and describing community issues and opportunities through the lens of the 9 dimensions of a healthy community, effective interpersonal communication, building social capital, appreciating personality differences, managing interpersonal conflict, understanding community power, mobilizing community resources, and goal setting.

Fri
16
Feb
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Caucuses see very low citizen turnout in county

DFL caucus goers gathered at the Northside Elementary School last Tuesday to consider resolutions and vote on a straw ballot for their gubernatorial candidate of choice.
Republicans met at the Benson High School. Caucus turnout was very low for both parties though DFLers had a slight edge.

Nearly 5,000 Swift County citizens voted in the presidential election in 2016. Total county turnout for last Tuesday’s precinct caucuses was 56.

The county’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party saw 31 people attend caucuses in Benson, Kerkhoven and Appleton while Republicans saw 25 people attend their three county caucuses.

DFLers chose District 1 U.S. Rep. Tim Walz of southern Minnesota as their top choice for governor in the straw poll that was conducted during its caucus. Walz received 10 votes to State Auditor Deb Otto’s seven. State Representatives Paul Thissen and Tina Liebling each received three votes and Rep. Erin Murphy got two.

Among the Republican candidates, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson received 17 votes with the second place finisher Keith Downey far behind with just four votes.

Fri
16
Feb
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PUC asked to reconsider Benson Power closing vote

Vote sets stage for Xcel Energy to buy, close biomass power plant

 

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

Arguing that closing the Benson Power, LLC, biomass electric generation plant would adversely affect the environment and state economy, and violate guaranteed state contractual obligations, multiple petitioners are seeking to keep the facility open.

North American Fertilizer/Beaver Creek Transport, the Minnesota Timber Association, and the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, are asking the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to reverse its order allowing Xcel Energy to proceed with the purchase and closing of Benson Power.

North American Fertilizer (NAF) is the company adjacent to Benson Power that processes the ash from the plant’s burning a mix of wood chips and turkey into fertilizer.

Fri
16
Feb
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As interest rates rise, so do county interest earnings

Swift County earned $170,000 in interest income on its investments in 2017. The earnings are due to a combination of more funds to invest and interest rates that are starting to creep up.

In all, the county had $20,141,095 invested at the end of 2017. But not all of that is made up of funds the county has sitting in reserves for general operations.

Nearly $5.2 million of the investment funds were just added this past year in the form of a bond sale to pay for renovations at the Swift County courthouse and at Countryside Public Health in Benson. Those monies are already being paid out to contractors. Another $1 million in funds are in a reserve that has been built up over the past several years from the county’s self-insurance health plan. There is $3.3 million in the road and bridge fund.

There is $5.09 million in the general revenue fund reserve. Other investment funds are tied to economic development and human services.

Thu
15
Feb
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Community Meeting

There will be a Community Meeting to further discuss the issues regarding Benson High School sports that parents brought before the school board in November.

The meeting is Monday, February 19th at 6:30 pm at the Fire Hall meeting room.

This is an open meeting and we encourage all school staff, community members, parents and school administration to attend. 

Spread the word - we hope to see you there!!

Thu
15
Feb
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City working to repair water main

A water line break on 10th Street South in Benson early this morning led to the city issuing a Code Red alert for a water emergency. It asked citizens to limit water use until 9:30 a.m. With the emergency now over, the city is working to repair the line. It is hoped that more water line breaks aren't in store this coming spring due to a lack of snowcover allowing frost levels to sink deep into the ground.

The leak was discovered about 4:15 a.m. by Benson police who then contacted the Public Works Department, which was on the job 15 mintues later. The water flow was fast enough and long enough from the leak that it caused the level in the Benson water tower to drop. The city suspects there was substantial damage done to the road that will likely require it being rebuilt this spring or summer.

 

 

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