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In the interest of public safety and good information, the Courier is making these updates available to all for free. If you support this kind of community journalism, please consider subscribing to the Courier.


The Freeman City Council voted 5-1 Monday night to allow businesses that had been forced to close through an emergency resolution amid COVID-19 health concerns to reopen effective immediately. Local city and health officials are strongly encouraging all businesses to continue to follow CDC guidelines regarding social distancing and other precautionary actions. 

The action came with a cautious blessing of local doctors Ken Kirton and Shakil Hafiz, who said that, while they support opening things up, people should still be cautious. 

“I support the idea of businesses opening up, but it is absolutely crucial that we message to the public that things are not OK. The threat is still there.”

Charles Gering cast the lone "no" vote, preferring to wait two more weeks.

Watch for more in this week’s Courier.




At the recommendation of Mayor Darrell Mehlhaf, the Menno City Council voted 6-0 Monday night, May 4 to rescind the COVID-19 restrictions put in place at a special meeting almost six weeks ago. The emergency resolution passed April 26 ordered all city bars, restaurants and casinos closed to in-store consumption, as well as recreational facilities. 

Monday’s action is effective immediately and puts it on the business owners and patrons to adhere to CDC guidelines; city officials made it clear they would not “police” the businesses.

The Menno City Council also agreed to open the city swimming pool Monday, June 1 and will formalize plans to hold its annual Fourth of July celebration as scheduled when it meets again next month.



The Freeman Ministerial Association held the 2020 baccalaureate remotly from the Bethany Mennonite Church Sunday afternoon, May 3. The worship service geared toward graduating seniors from Freeman Academy and Freeman Publci was televised on Golden West cable channel 90. It is also available on YouTube; click here to go there now.



As a resource to our local business community, FRHS has placed a revised list of screening questions in the “News & Events” section of their website. This question set will be continuously updated in response to guidelines provided by the CDC and the South Dakota Department of Health. Businesses are advised to regularly return to the FRHS website for the latest set. Community businesses are encouraged to develop their own action plan based upon customer responses to these questions.

The screening question set as of April 30 is outlined below.

Revised COVID-19 Screening Questions for Community Businesses - 4/30/20


We will update this question set as we receive new COVID-19 information. Remember to maintain a 6 foot minimum distance between you and the individual. We advise that you request those coming in to wash or sanitize their hands upon entry. We recommend wearing masks.

In the past two weeks, do you have new onset of:


Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing?

Fever of 100 or higher?


Muscle pain?

Loss of taste or smell?

Vomiting or diarrhea?

Sore throat?

Have you had close contact with someone who has COVID-19?


City of Freeman will consider easing restrictions at May 11 meeting

An emergency ordinance and resolution adopted by the city of Freeman last month was revised at the city council’s meeting Monday, April 27 to make it clear that the closure of recreational facilities and other entertainment venues in town pertains only to those that are indoors. This comes four days before the scheduled May 1 opening of Valley View Golf Course. City officials made it clear this does not mean large groups should congregate on the baseball field, for example, and that social distancing practices should continue to be observed.

City officials also discussed how much longer the guidelines of the emergency resolution — that includes the closure of bars and restaurants to on-site consumption — should be followed. Councilors agreed it was too early to loosen the restrictions but dialing those back should be considered when the council meets again on May 11. Several councilors said that, unless there is a significant spike in cases, the emergency resolution order should be taken off the books.


Graduation plans announced

Plans are coming together for what this year’s graduation ceremonies will look like at Freeman Academy, Freeman Public Schools and Menno Public School. All three commencements will be held Saturday, May 16 and are for immediate family only.

Freeman Academy will hold its graduation that Saturday evening drive-up style in the gravel parking lot south of Pioneer Hall. Families will be invited to watch the ceremony from their car; a PowerPoint is being planned, which is why it will begin later than the typical 6 p.m. start time. That time has not been determined. The ceremony will not be live-streamed, but will be recorded and available to the public later.

Freeman Public will hold its graduation at 2 p.m. on the football field, with a parade through town to follow; details are still to be worked out. Plans are to live-stream the ceremony; watch the school’s website for details.

Freeman’s baccalaureate will be live-streamed from the Bethany Mennonite Church this Sunday, May 3 at 4 p.m. and available on Golden West cable channel 90, and then later on YouTube.

Menno’s commencement will take place inside the city/school auditorium, with baccalaureate starting at 2 p.m. and graduation to follow. The ceremony will be live-streamed; see the school’s Facebook page for details.



Baccalaureate to be held remotely Sunday, May 3

The Freeman Ministerial Association will be honoring the 2020 graduates of Freeman Academy and Freeman High School in a baccalaureate service held remotely Sunday, May 3 at 4 p.m. 

In order to protect the community by practicing safe social distancing, the service is going to be broadcast on channel 90 (the local Freeman channel available to Golden West cable subscribers), and then posted on YouTube.

“Although the service will not be able to provide the kind of personal intimacy and fellowship as in past years, we feel that it is nonetheless important to recognize the achievements of the graduating classes,” said Stephen Roussos of the ministerial association. “Please mark your calendars and join us for this time of worship and blessing.”


Schmeckfest, school officials cancel 2020 Schmeckfest

After initially postponing the 2020 Schmeckfest in hopes of rescheduling for later in the year, Freeman Academy and festival officials announced Saturday morning, April 18, that this year's festival is canceled. Here is a statement from the school:

We regret to inform you that Schmeckfest 2020 has been cancelled due to the extenuating circumstances of COVID-19. This has been an extremely difficult decision. We know how greatly it impacts Freeman Academy, however we feel it is best to proceed with utmost caution.

Meal and musical tickets will be refunded upon request. 

Thank you for all you do to help Freeman Academy. We are hopeful to see you all at Schmeckfest 2021 better than ever!



Freeman Public lights up football field at 8:20 p.m. Thursday night

Freeman Public Schools joined other districts in a light campaign Thursday, April 16. At 8:20 p.m., the lights of the football field were turned on for 20 minutes to honor the Class of 2020; 8:20 was chosen because it is the 20th minute of the 20th hour that will honor the Class of 2020. The public was encouraged to drive by and honk in support of this year's senior class. For a video of the salute, check out the Courier's Facebook page.


Update from Freeman Regional Health Services

UPDATE: FRHS Temporarily Changes Clinic Visit & Lab Draw Locations and Adds Parking Restriction Until Further Notice

Until the time that COVID-19 no longer poses a public threat, FRHS is implementing the following modifications:

All FRHS Rural Medical Clinics’ routine and maintenance visits will be virtual;

Freeman acute clinic patients may be directed to curbside visit to minimize exposure risks for our staff and providers;

General lab draws moved to Freeman Clinic entrance;

ER Garage west side parking restricted to ambulances only.


2020 South Dakota Mennonite Central Committee Sale canceled

The South Dakota MCC Relief Sale, scheduled for July 11, has been canceled for 2020. The board is working on new and creative ways to still contribute to MCC through the relief sale. Details coming soon.


Freeman Public to end formal instruction May 1

The Freeman Public School Board agreed Wednesday night to accept a recommendation from Superintendent Kevin Kunz and end formal instruction for the 2019-2020 school year on May 1. Students will have an additional, unspecified amount of time after that to complete and turn in any unfinished work.

No action was taken, but the board consented to the final day of May 1 at its regular monthly meeting — held online using the platform Zoom — Wednesday night, April 8.

The final day had been scheduled for Monday, May 18.

Students haven’t been in school since the second week of March, when the coronavirus pandemic became a serious threat in the United States, and have been learning remotely since Monday, March 23. Junior-senior high school students have been using various online platforms to interact with their teachers while students in grades K-6 have received and returned packets of assignments in the elementary school commons area on Mondays.

Kunz’s wondered how effective this process will continue to be for another 5 ½ weeks, which led to his recommendation to the board.

"Do we think from an educational standpoint that we're going to get something out of going longer than (May 1), and if we are, then the teachers will be on board with it," Kunz told the board. "But is us giving them more work to do over the course of those next two weeks really going to help the student, when they're already exhausted with what's been going on?"

Watch for a full report on the board’s April meeting in the April 16 edition of the Courier.


Emergency funds available through Freeman Community Foundation

Applications are now being accepted by the Freeman Community Foundation (FCF) for emergency funds to be allocated in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The FCF has access to matching funds distributed by the South Dakota Community Foundation. Applicants must be 501c3 non-profits. The deadline to submit an application is April 22. This is not part of the Freeman Community Foundation’s twice-yearly grant cycle. The deadline for those wishing to apply for non-COVID-19-related funds is May 1.

Click here for the application.


April 8 update: 5 cases in Turner County

A fifth case of COVID-19 has been reported in Turner County; that ranks the county 10th in the number of cases in the state. The April 8 update from the state shows 393 cases statewide. Minnehaha and Lincoln counties account for 259 cases - 2/3rds of those cases. No new cases have been reported in Hutchinson or McCook counties this week.


Citywide rummage, fishing derby canceled

Two events planned in Freeman in June have been canceled because of concerns about COVID-19; the citywide Rummage Sale, typically held the first week of June, and the annual Freeman Fishing Derby, typically held the third Saturday of June.

In both cases, the uncertain timeline of COVID-19 precautions, reflected in Gov. Noem’s call for schools to remain closed for the rest of the school year, prompted organizers to cancel the events.

Jeremy Waltner, publisher of the Freeman Courier - which has coordinated Freeman's rummage sale in recent years - said given how fluid the situation is and the possibility of continued social distancing extending through May, erroring on the side of safety is prudent.

Here’s a statement from Sam Sorensen, who had organized the fishing derby in recent years.

“The 2020 Freeman Fishing Derby is postponed to June 19, 2021. This is the appropriate action based on the environment that the COVID-19 virus has presented. We are very disappointed in having to make this decision but based on the timeline that the COVID-19 is to affect our community and most others and the economic impact it has on all of us, I believe this was the only appropriate decision. Safety and the protection of our community and our attendees is our number one priority. All stay safe and well and we hope to see you on the third Saturday of June 2021.

We recognize the safety of the citizens of the greater Freeman area as well as the safety of local attendees as the primary reasons for the postponement. Your safety needs to be the primary focus.”

Turner County has four cases of COVID-19

The daily update from the state Sunday, April 5, shows another case of COVID-19 in Turner County, bringing the total to 4. The update shows 240 cases statewide, up from 212 Saturday. No change was reported in Hutchinson and McCook counties; both remain at two. Minnehaha County has 104 cases. These details come from

SD Chislic Festival Board of Directors looks to 2021

The following press release has been issued by the South Dakota Chislic Festival Board of Directors. The 2020 festival had been scheduled for Saturday, July 25. 

The South Dakota Chislic Festival Board of Directors has voted to suspend their plans to host the 2020 Chislic Festival. The board has deemed this to be the appropriate action based on the environment that the COVID-19 virus has presented.

The board recognizes the safety of the citizens of the greater Freeman area as well as the safety of festival attendees as the primary reasons for the suspension. With the festival drawing visitors from across the country, the safety of everyone needs to be the primary focus. 

The board wishes to extend their appreciation to the entire Freeman community, the festival population, the sponsors, and the vendors for their support in getting this event off the ground in 2018 and 2019 and looks forward to a great festival the last Saturday of July 2021.

The decision of the board is being made at this time to allow our vendors time to plan for an alternate event in 2020, should there be other options available. We also wish to allow festival attendees who need to make travel arrangements the opportunity to amend those plans. 

We want our sponsors to know how deeply thankful we are for their support and are hopeful they will continue to support us in our 2021 planning. Both vendors and sponsors are critical elements to the success of our festival and we value these close relationships. Sponsors and vendors will receive a 100% refund of their monies in the coming days.

We as a board are disappointed in having to arrive at the decision to suspend the 2020 South Dakota Chislic Festival, but based on the timeline that COVID-19 is expected to disrupt our community, and the secondary economic impact it has on us all, we believe it is the only appropriate decision. Safety and the protection of our community and festival attendees is our number one priority. Stay safe and stay well, everyone. We look forward to seeing you within a safe and festive environment in 2021.

The South Dakota Chislic Festival Board of Directors





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No change in number of local cases of COVID-19

The April 4 COVID-19 update from South Dakota shows 212 cases confirmed statewide. There's no change in Hutchinson (2), McCook (2) and Turner (3) counties. The state site identifies both cases in Hutchinson County as "recovered," as are one each in McCook and Turner counties. The latest state statistics are available at

Turner County has three cases of COVID-19

The daily update from the state shows a total of 187 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Dakota, up 22 from yesterday. That’s includes another case in Turner County – a total of three. Hutchinson and McCook counties remain at two cases. McCook, Turner and Yankton counties are all identified as having community spread. A third of the cases in the state are in Minnehaha County at 68. These details come from

Thursday state report

According to South Dakota’s website, Turner County now has two confirmed cases of COVID-19. Updated Thursday morning, April 2, it shows 165 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed statewide. Hutchinson and McCook counties remain stable with two cases each. The update shows 87 of cases are women and 78 are men. The split by age is pretty even between those 50 and older and 50 and younger. You can find the complete listing of confirmed cases, listed by county, at

Freeman, Menno postpone April 14 elections to June

South Dakota lawmakers passed several emergency bills Monday night, March 30, including allowing local governments to delay their elections. Many were scheduled for April 14; that includes Freeman and Menno. The plan for Freeman is to move the joint city/school election to the June 2 primary. Both the city council and the school board will have to approve a new joint resolution. The Menno School Board Election plans to move its election June but a date has not yet been set.

Community help needed for F.A.C.E. Mask Project

Freeman Regional Health Services and Salem Mennonite Home, along with other healthcare providers throughout the nation, will likely face a shortage of facemasks in the coming weeks. We are doing our best to conserve our supply of disposable face masks, but we realize that additional face masks will be needed by our nurses, providers, and other caregivers. 

In order to address this pressing need, we are reaching out to our community to encourage them to join the Faith And Community Engage (F.A.C.E.) Mask project. We are asking for everyone to keep the faith and to show our sense of community with the call to action to address this urgent need for donations of hand-sewn face masks.

There are several patterns for cloth face masks being shared on social media and the web, however we are requesting mask donations with the Avera F.A.C.E. Mask project’s Olson Mask design. Those who are interested in creating cloth masks, should visit the project website at for the pattern and guidelines. Please contact Amanda Mettler with questions and to receive donation drop-off information or the pattern/guidelines at

Monday state report

According to South Dakota’s website, updated Monday morning, March 30, 101 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed statewide. Locally, there is no change: Hutchinson County 2,  McCook County 2, Turner County 1. Yankton County has 4 cases. The state site shows 52 males and 49 females have the virus. You can find the complete listing of confirmed cases, listed by county, at

Sunday state report adds Turner County to list of confirmed COVID-19 cases 

According to the state of South Dakota’s website, updated Sunday morning, March 29, a case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Turner County, helping bring the state total of cases to 90. Saturday morning, March 28, the site confirmed two positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Hutchinson County. It also shows two cases in neighboring McCook County. Those numbers were unchanged Sunday. Freeman Mayor Sam Sorensen told the Courier Saturday morning the city council will discuss this development when it meets in special session Tuesday noon, March 31. You can find the complete listing of confirmed cases, listed by county, at


City of Freeman passes emergency resolution 

The city of Freeman has passed a resolution that orders all city restaurants and bars closed to on-site consumption starting Friday, March 27 at 5 p.m. The resolution also orders the closure of all public recreational facilities in the city of Freeman. It does not prohibit those businesses from providing take-out and delivery or curbside and drive-thru service.

“Any business continuing to operate in order to provide off-site service should implement procedures to ensure social distancing and operate in compliance with federal and state health guidance in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the resolution reads.

The order does not apply to grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, drug stores or “any emergency facilities necessary for the response to the current public health emergency or any other community emergency disaster.”

The action came in special session via teleconference Thursday night, March 26. 



City of Menno passes emergency resolution 

The city of Menno has ordered that all city restaurants, bars and casinos be closed to the public for on-site consumption beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 27. That does not apply to food that is ordered for pick-up or off-sale alcoholic beverages from businesses that choose to serve their customers in that way.

The resolution also closes recreational facilities, public pools, health clubs, athletic facilities and music or entertainment venues. 

Grocery stores, convivence stores and other businesses not identified in the resolution are not impacted by this, although the public is to be mindful of CDC guidelines like gatherings of no more than 10 people and at least six feet of separation.

The action came at a special emergency meeting of the Menno City Council at the Menno Fire Hall Thursday evening, March 26, when the council unanimously passed “an emergency resolution to address a public health crisis by implementing certain measures which have been deemed necessary to slow the community spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).”

The resolution stands for 60 days and will automatically expire unless the council takes action to extend it. The resolution may also be abandoned by action of the city council prior to 60 days.

No confirmed case of COVID-19 at Vermeer Freeman 

Contrary to rumors that were circulating on Thursday, March 26, there has not been a confirmed case of COVID-19 at Vermeer Manufacturing, according to general manager Scott Eberts. And new numbers released by the state show that there is no confirmed case in all of Hutchinson County. Please continue to check here for the latest verified and accurate information; those with something to share may do so by calling or texting 605-351-6097 or emailing


As part of its joint press release last week, the city of Freeman and Freeman Regional Health Services noted this from Vemeer:

Freeman’s second-largest employer is one local company that has implemented a pro-active response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Vermeer Freeman General Manager Scott Eberts notes that the company is in daily communication with their corporate office and is staying informed of the latest guidelines. Their goals are to protect the health of their team members and to keep operations functional. This community business has been modifying workplace protocols so they can continue to support their customers. We anticipate that other businesses will develop similar action plans in the near future.

The key changes implemented by Vermeer Freeman are outlined here.

Modified Workplace Protocols In Action - 3/20/20

Key changes implemented at Vermeer Freeman in response to COVID-19 include the following:

Social distancing and personal hygiene practices are promoted. Handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and maintaining as much space as possible from others are among those practices.

Group meetings are limited in size to 10 or fewer individuals.

WebEx/conference calls are expected to be utilized for most meetings to eliminate contact wherever possible.

Vendor/sales calls have been postponed or canceled and all visits to the facility must be approved.

All business travel must be pre-approved.

Break and vending areas have been closed to eliminate contact, with team members encouraged to utilize their area or vehicles when taking breaks.

Those performing functions that can be done from home – including engineering, purchasing, and accounts payable – are now working remotely.

Restrooms and high traffic areas, including door handles, are being sanitized 3 times a day.

Sanitizing stations have been placed in centralized locations so team members can clean their areas when needed.

All team members are encouraged to NOT come to work if they’re not feeling well.



About the April 14 election

As of Tuesday, there were no plans to postpone the upcoming election scheduled for Tuesday, April 14. That includes races for Freeman mayor and both the school boards at Freeman Public and Menno. However, those who wish to avoid contact and vote via an absentee ballot may do so immediately. Applications are available through the Secretary of State’s website — — or can be picked up inside the front lobby of both Freeman City Hall and the Junior-Senior High School. Once filled out, simply mail them to either the city or the school and you will be sent an absentee ballot to fill out and return by mail.


Friday blood drive postponed; other updates from Freeman Regional

A blood drive scheduled for Friday, March 27 at Freeman Regional Health Services will not be held as planned. The drive is tentatively being rescheduled for sometime in April and will be held at the Freeman Community Center, where social distancing can be better controlled. Watch for more information as it becomes available. 

Also, until the time that COVID-19 no longer poses a public threat, FRHS is not:

• Scheduling visiting specialists

• Accepting floral or gift deliveries inside FRHS facilities. Floral displays may be set outside windows for viewing in designated area.


FRHS offering call-in forum for greater Freeman community 

A call-in forum for the greater Freeman community will be hosted by Dr. Kirton on Tuesday, March 24 at 7 p.m. Dr. Kirton will answer questions regarding COVID-19 and share his advice to those on the call. Bridgewater, Freeman, Marion and Menno community members who want to join Tuesday’s call-in need to register in advance by calling 605-925-2142.


New from Turner County 

The Turner County Courthouse will continue to limit interactions with the pubic because of the Covid-19 health emergency at least until April 7th by a vote of the Turner County Commissioners.   The Courthouse will be closed to the general public. It will be re-evaluated at that time.  We ask that if you must come to the Courthouse to do business to please call and set up an appointment.   In many situations, there are alternative ways to get your license plate tabs, pay your taxes, file a building permit, etc. that you can do.  Everyone’s safety is the priority at this time.

During this time, the Turner County Court System remains open and all people will have access to the court system.  Please contact the Turner County Clerk of Courts office at (605) 297-3115 or the Turner County State’s Attorney’s Office at (605) 297-3975.  The court system remains accessible to anyone in the public that needs it.

If it is determined that you need to come to the courthouse, you will need to use the west door and call the office you need to visit when you get here.  If you have a cold or flu symptoms, we ask that you do not come to the courthouse.

The Sheriff’s office will not do any fingerprinting, pistol permits or other non-essential items during this time.  Deputies are taking extra precautions to ensure their safety and of those they are interacting with.  If you have any sort of emergency and someone is experiencing a cold, flu or flu like symptoms, PLEASE NOTIFY US so we can take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our first responders.

If you need to use the services of the Food Pantry or ICAP, please contact Julie at (605) 940-1909 to set up an appointment.

Some of our State employees have been told to work from home.  Please call their offices first to see if they are here.  

Here are the Turner County Courthouse Department phone numbers if you need to contact them:

Sheriff’s Office:  605-297-3225

Dispatch:  605-764-2534 (If no one answers the Sheriff’s line)

Auditor’s Office:  605-297-3153

Clerk of Courts:  605-297-3115

Court Services:  605-297-4097

Equalization/Assessor’s Office:  605-297-3424

Emergency Management:  605-297-6000

Extension Office:  605-297-3112

Highway Department:  605-297-3404

ICAP/Food Pantry:  605-940-1909

Register of Deeds:  605-297-3443

States Attorney:  605-297-3975

Veterans Affairs:  605-297-3431

Treasurer’s Office:  605-297-4425


Update from Freeman Chiropractic Solutions 

We know that in these uncertain times you may be wondering what Salem Chiropractic Clinic and Freeman Chiropractic Solutions are doing to address the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. As you know, our clinic deeply cares about the health and safety of our patients, staff, and communities as a whole. Therefore, we have been closely been monitoring the developments of this issue. There have been minimal cases in South Dakota at this point and we have had no cases or connection with either of our clinics. However, we have been paying close attention to our state health board as well as the CDCs advice in the past month. We have also been in discussion with local medical professionals in both Salem and Freeman and have adopted their stringent safety protocols with the recent developments of this virus. The following are being followed carefully in our offices:

1.All staff and doctors are stringently washing our hands while simultaneously utilizing hand sanitizer to avoid the most common transmission of the virus.

2. We are following a rigorous cleaning protocol between every patient where we are disinfecting the treatment tables, countertops, chiropractic tools, and chairs. 

3. We are actively screening all individuals with a questionnaire who are attempting to seek treatment in our offices.We are asking if they are having a fever, cough, have had contact with any positive tested individual with COVID-19, or if they have had out of country travel in the last 10 days.If they are presenting with these symptoms or have had contact/traveled we are having them return home and call their medical provider.

4. There will be no employees in the office with the aforementioned symptoms. If you are showing signs of sickness, stay home. 

5. We are strategically spacing patient visits out in the office and avoiding any clusters of patients to minimize contact and follow the social distancing rules put forth by the government.



Update from Et Cetera Shoppe 

The Et Cetera Shoppe says in a statement that the Freeman thrift store will be closed through Saturday, March 28. "At that point we will re-evaluate the situation, and will likely make the decision to open or close on a week-by-week basis.
After March 28, you can check our Facebook page or the website for information on whether we’re open or closed - or try calling the store at 925-7098."


Update from Freeman Dental 

We have been monitoring the COVID-19 situation very closely. Out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our patients, staff and providers, we have decided to postpone any non-urgent dental care. We will be reaching out to reschedule routine dental care now through April 3, 2020. We will be reassessing the situation as new information and recommendations become available from both state and federal organizations.
For at least the next two weeks, our practice will continue to offer limited care during limited hours. We will postpone appointments for the following procedures:
-Initial or periodic exams
-Routine dental cleanings and preventive therapies
-Orthodontic procedures other than those to alleviate acute pain
-Extraction of asymptomatic teeth
-Restorative dentistry including restoration of asymptomatic areas of decay
-Cosmetic dental procedures
For any other dental concerns, please contact our offices for an appointment or phone consultation.
We apologize for any inconvenience and we thank everyone for understanding our decision to postpone routine dental care. The health and safety of our patients, staff, providers and our communities at large are our top priority.

Update from Freeman City Hall 

At City Hall this evening (March 18), councilors decided that - until further notice - City Hall doors will be locked during business hours. Offices will still be staffed from 7 a.m.-4 p.m., but residents are asked to use the drop box inside the front door or call 925.7127 to schedule a brief appointment, should that be necessary. Paying utility bills online at is also an option. The Freeman Community Center will be closed, as well, with walkers no longer able to gain access using personalized codes. We thank you for your understanding. And, in order for our community to avoid the serious consequences of COVID-19, we ask individuals of ALL ages to heed the guidelines set forth by the CDC. 


Church announcements

Stephen Roussos, pastor of the Freeman Missionary Church who is active in the Freeman Ministerial Association, told the Courier on Thursday that, to his knowledge, all churches in the area have canceled worship services and activities through at least this month. Those with specific questions related to their own congregation should contact their respective churches. All regional church information is included on the Church Page in the Courier.


Freeman Regional Health Service offering call-in sessions March 18, 19

Want to learn how your business can respond to COVID-19? Dr. Kirton, a medical provider at Freeman Regional Health Services, is hosting call-ins this week for our community. He’ll be available at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 18 and at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Thursday, March 19. Register today by calling 605-925-2142 or messaging FRHS on Facebook.


Statement from Hutchinson County

At this time, to do our part in helping curb the spread of COVID-19, we are going to be closed to the public. We will be fully staffed to handle all business through mail, fax, email or by telephone. A drop box will be located at the North Entrance if you feel you need to bring the paperwork to us.  Townships can drop off Annual meeting paperwork and Equalization meeting books by the drop box. This will be checked periodically throughout the day. The box will not be outside after business hours. We are suspending all public meetings that were scheduled to be held in the courthouse. The Commissioners will reevaluate the situation at their April 7th meeting.  We will be assessing this ongoing as the health and safety of everyone is evaluated.

- Hutchinson County Commissioners


Courier office closing until further notice; publications will continue

The Courier has decided to close its office to the public through at least this week. A number of reasons went into the decision:

1. As a precaution, office Manager Linda VonEye has remained self-quarantined at her home after returning from a cruise to the Caribbean.
2. Three staff members have school-aged children and younger at home, and with classes suspended, priority needs to be given to families.
3. All the information coming out suggests erring on the side of caution, and that's what we're choosing to do.

But our work will continue.

Staff may be reached by emailing for news, for advertising or for graphic design services. You may also call or text 605-351-6097 with any questions, concerns or information that needs to be shared. 

Copies of the Area Wide Connection are available inside the front door of our Main Street office.

Future issues of our publications will not be interrupted and work will continue from both our office and homes.

Be well.


Statement from Freeman City Hall

City Hall will conduct normal business hours beginning at 7 a.m. on Monday. For your health, as well as for ours, and in an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we ask that you please use the drop box inside our front door or call 925-7127 to schedule a brief appointment.


Freeman Public making sack lunches available to its students for free

Freeman Public Schools has announced that it will be making sack lunches available for pickup to its enrolled students on a request basis beginning Monday, March 16 and continuing through the week; classes are canceled per a request from the governor. Those who would like a sack lunch for their child should call the junior-senior high school office between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. for details. The phone number is 605-925-4214. The district announced on Monday the lunches would be available for free to all Freeman Public students.


Statement from Freeman Public Library

To Our Patrons: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and school closings, the Freeman Public Library will be canceling all programming. While our doors will be closed to the public, please know that we will still be offering services. We welcome you to go online & reserve a book or movie; we’ll collect those items for you and you’ll be able to find them in our breezeway in a bag with your name on it. Or, you may phone us at 925.7003 and we’ll retrieve requested items for you. You may also return items using our drop box. Due to the difficulty in disinfecting many game pieces, we will not be checking out games at this time. Don’t forget we also have downloadable audio & eBooks available at


Schools to be closed next week

Administration at Freeman Academy, Freeman Public Schools and Menno Public School have confirmed that their respective attendance centers will be closed the week of March 16-20; the announcement follows a request by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem that all state schools be closed next week in response to COVID-19.


A message from Freeman and Parkston Dental Centers regarding the Coronavirus

Our dental care facilities are always engaged in the health and wellness of our patients and the general wellbeing of our communities.  We are responding to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) challenge by continuing to implement CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and ADA (American Dental Association) guidelines.
If you have an appointment in our clinics and have experienced symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath or general aches and pains, please call our office to reschedule your appointment.  The Freeman office can be reached at 605-925-4999 and the Parkston office can be reached at 605-928-3363.
Our dental clinics do not have the ability to test for COVID-19.  If you are symptomatic, we ask that you stay home and consult with your primary care medical provider.
We continue to offer the highest level of dental services and infection control to our patients.  We understand the concern associated with community social contact.  If you wish to reschedule your appointment, please let us know at your earliest convenience.
Our clinics ask that you continue to practice proper handwashing and personal protective methods.
Be well.
Drs. Jason Aanenson, Alex Whitesell, Serena Whitesell


Statement from Freeman Academy/Schmeckfest

The Schmeckfest Auxiliary Executive Board, Freeman Academy Board of Directors, and Administration have postponed Schmeckfest 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Tentative dates have been discussed and will be announced as we hear official updates regarding COVID-19.

This has been a difficult decision; however we cannot risk the safety of our students, faculty, volunteers, community and Schmeckfest visitors. We also feel a personal responsibility to help stop the spread of this contagious virus. We have been strongly encouraged to take preventative measures, not just for ourselves, but for all those who enter our campus, and especially those with weakened immune systems.

Schmeckfest musical and meal tickets will be transferable to a rescheduled date in 2020.
Pre-orders for items, such as Schmeckfest sausage, can still be placed and are appreciated. This has been Freeman Academy’s largest fundraiser for over 60 years. Details can be found at

Updates will be available on and official Facebook pages for Freeman Academy and Schmeckfest, as more information follows in the coming days and weeks.  Contact Nathan Epp at or Meranda Van Ningen, Development Director / Schmeckfest Coordinator at



Thursday night update from Freeman Public Schools

After consultation with the South Dakota Departments of Health and Education, local healthcare providers, and neighboring school districts, the Freeman School District will be implementing several preventative practices and precautions in an effort to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) spreading across our nation, state, and local communities. The following procedures will be implemented immediately and will continue indefinitely until the district has determined, with the help of state and local health officials, that returning to our regular practices is in the best interest of our students, staff, and community. 

• The Freeman School District will be suspending all non-essential activities. These non-essential activities include but are not limited to concerts, in and out of town activities, field trips, and other similar activities. We will do our best to communicate any scheduling changes as they become available. 

• The Freeman School District will be suspending all facility use by any non-Freeman School District organizations. This will include individual facility use by students, parents, and other members the community. 

• The Freeman School District will be limiting entry to our school buildings to essential personnel only (staff and students). All other individuals will be allowed access the main vestibule of each school building’s main entrance but will only be able to access the main offices when necessary. 

• The Freeman School District will be making adjustments to the district’s current food service practices in an effort to support the prevention of COVID-19.

• The Freeman School District will consider potential adjustments to our district’s current attendance policies in an effort to support the prevention of COVID-19.

• The Freeman School District is encouraging students to bring their own water bottles to school as the district will be installing water bottle fillers on some of the water fountains within the district’s buildings. 

Click here to read the full statement.


Thursday night update from Freeman Regional Health Services

This week, the first cases of COVID-19 were identified in South Dakota. The World Health Organization also declared this situation as a pandemic.

If you utilize Freeman Regional Health Services and Avera facilities for your health care, please call 1-877-282-8372 if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) or feel you have been exposed to COVID-19. This toll-free number is staffed 24/7 by Avera registered nurses who will determine if you need to be seen by a provider. 

You may also call the Freeman Clinic at 605-925-4219, 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday, if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. 

If you do not have an appointment at the Freeman Clinic, please call to speak to one of our healthcare professionals before you arrive. We are not accepting walk-in appointments.

If you need Emergency Services, you do not need to call before you arrive. You will undergo respiratory and travel screening prior to entering the facility.


From Freeman Academy/Schmeckfest

Freeman Academy & Schmeckfest Auxiliary Executive Board Official Statement concerning COVID-19:

Like so many of you, we have been monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and how it is impacting our world. We are aware there are now confirmed cases in South Dakota. For Freeman Academy and Schmeckfest, that means understanding how to help avoid an outbreak for our students, families, staff, visitors, and the greater Freeman area. Many of you have ordered tickets for the Schmeckfest meal and musical scheduled for March 20-21 and March 27-28, 2020. 

At this time, we have not canceled or postponed any campus activities. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and do all we can to protect you and the greater community.

If our executive committee and school board of directors deem it necessary to cancel or postpone Schmeckfest 2020, we will publicize it immediately on and official Facebook pages for Freeman Academy and Schmeckfest. 

We are closely following the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) guidelines and recommendations of the steps we can take to help prevent the spread of the virus, as well as, working closely with Freeman Regional Health Services. We encourage you to visit the CDC website directly and follow the same preventative measures. 

We will continue to adjust our operations according to the recommendations of health authorities as the situation develops. 

Contact Nathan Epp at or (605) 925-4237 or Meranda Van Ningen, Development Director/Schmeckfest Coordinator at or (605) 925-4237.


From Freeman Public Schools

Freeman Public Schools has issued a statement regarding the coronvirus through an automated phone call to patrons of the district from Superintendent Kevin Kunz. “We as a district thought it was important to reach out to families to provide some information regarding this issue," Kunz said. “As of right now we have no plans of closing the school. However, we will continue to monitor the situation and determine the best course of action for our staff and students.” Kunz said the South Dakota Department of Health has provided guidence and resources to school districts, and those have been posted on the school's website.

He also said those showing signs of sickness should stay home and seek medical attention accordingly. He also suggested people should not panic, but rather educate themselves about the issue. “As a district, we undertand one of the most important aspects to addressing the coronavirus is to remain calm and do not overreact to what they do not know or understand."


From the City of Freeman

Officials at Freeman’s City Hall participated in an hour-long White House briefing via conference call on Wednesday, March 11. The briefing was designed to keep state, local, & tribal leaders informed regarding the Coronavirus/COVID-19, currently designated by the World Health Organization as a global pandemic. It was emphasized that there is a role for everyone as we seek to contain and mitigate the impact of this virus. Those most vulnerable are older adults and people of all ages with underlying or chronic health concerns. For specific and reliable information regarding updates and appropriate responses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at is recommended, as well as the World Health Organization’s website at and the U.S. Department of Education’s website at


From Freeman Regional Health Services

We received news today (Tuesday) from the South Dakota Department of Health that SD has 5 confirmed COVID-19 cases, resulting in 1 death. 
Therefore, in order to protect our patients, residents, employees, and communities,
The following patient/visitor access doors will be locked until further notice:
Business Office Front Doors
Freeman Medical Center Front Doors
ER Entrance Doors
The Clinic Front Door will remain open during clinic office hours.
All individuals who come to the ER or have scheduled appointments at FRHS will require respiratory and travel screening prior to entering the facility. Individuals with respiratory symptoms OR travel to affected areas in previous 14 days OR close contact with a known individual with COVID-19 will be asked to wear a mask and assisted to a designated area.
We understand this may create some inconvenience, however we appreciate your help in preventing the spread of infection at FRHS.


From the Tieszen Memorial Home in Marion

The Tieszen Memorial Home will be closed to all guests until further notice.


Brookings Area Transit Authority (which manages Freeman Community Transit)

This communication is for information purposes only and not to create unnecessary panic. As a public transportation service, BATA has been pro-active in the reduction of viruses for our passengers and drivers. 

With the resources that have been provided by the Federal Transit Authority and understanding our responsibility as public transportation providers working with the general public, we wanted to convey our plan of action in this health crisis involving COVID-19.

1. We have information posters in all of our vehicles as well as our offices. They include basic instructions on personal hygiene and what symptoms can be involved for this virus.

2. Employees that are symptomatic or have been knowingly exposed to this virus are requested to not come to work.

3. If you, your child, a family member, or a resident of the facility we are providing transportation for are ill, we ask you to refrain from using public transportation.

4. We understand we’re being redundant in saying “Wash Your Hands” to the tune of singing Happy Birthday – that’s how long it’s supposed to take to do so effectively.

5. Daily or multi times a day, our team at BATA is sanitizing the insides of the vehicles. Supplies that meet the virus fighting criteria are being used.

6. Other efforts include being in communication with the local Emergency Management of Brookings County, taking part in the regular meetings of Pandemic Preparedness Committee, and LEPC (Local Emergency Management Committee).

See BATA's full statement on its Facebook page.