May 9, 2019

Out with the old
The structure of the Menno Public School ag shop was stripped down to its metal recently as part of the renovation of the classroom and workspace. The Menno Board of Education is currently reviewing construction cost figures prior to the start of new construction
on the site.

Hutchinson Herald to end publication
Second Century Publishing, Inc., which has owned the Hutchinson Herald since 2002, will discontinue publishing the Menno weekly newspaper this summer and transition coverage of the community into the Freeman Courier.
The June 27 edition will be last for the Herald, which has served the Menno and Olivet community since it was founded in 1882.
Publisher Jeremy Waltner says plans are to continue serving the Menno and Olivet communities on a weekly basis through a section in the Freeman Courier. Support from the business community, as well as the city of Menno and Menno School District, will determine at what level.
Both the city council and school board will have to designate a new legal newspaper starting July 1. Waltner is meeting with elected officials this week and next to invite them to name the Courier as their official legal paper.
“There are a lot of good things happening in Menno that deserved to be covered,” Waltner said. “We have every intent to do so, but in a different format. We are asking the larger Menno community to support us as we make this transition.”
Waltner said the decision to absorb the Herald and use the Courier to cover the communities of Menno and Olivet was a difficult but necessary one. With rising costs, diminishing advertising support and declining population and readership, it is no longer financially feasible to publish the Herald as its own newspaper.
“Times are tough for the newspaper industry and both the Herald and the Courier are certainly not immune to those realities,” Waltner said. “But we maintain that newspapers play a vital role in their communities, which is why we want to make every effort to be the paper of record for Menno and Olivet. We hope to maintain our relationship with the city council, school board, business community and the people and events that make life in small towns so rewarding.”
All city and rural residents who receive the Herald by mail will have their subscriptions automatically transferred to the Freeman Courier. Those who would rather receive a refund for the remainder of the year may request one. Those who subscribe to both the Herald and Courier will receive a credit or refund for the remainder of the year.
David Bordewyk, executive director of the South Dakota Newspaper Association, noted the difficulties facing newspapers across the state.
“Many small weekly newspapers in South Dakota are facing very significant economic pressures,” Bordewyk said. “Those pressures are related, not necessarily to the growth of the internet and social media, but more so to the demographic and economic trends in the rural communities and rural areas of our state. The loss of population, farms, businesses and institutions such as schools and health-care facilities are making it more and more difficult for many of our state's smallest newspapers to continuing publishing.”
That now includes the Herald, which follows a growing trend that has seen small weeklies that have either closed or been absorbed by larger publications.
Among those lost have been the Belle Fourche Bee and Meade County Times of Sturgis, which were both closed by the Rapid City Journal three years ago. The Isabel Dakotan was absorbed by the Timber Lake Topic two years ago, the Beadle County Echo of Wessington/Wolsey was absorbed by the Miller Press last year and the New Underwood Post was absorbed by the Wall Pennington County Courant just this year.
“When we've seen the demise of a small newspaper, the trend has been for a neighboring newspaper or a newspaper nearby that has the same ownership to incorporate coverage of the newspaper-less community into its own publication,” Bordewky said. “In other words, more and more newspapers are covering, not only the community where they are based, but nearby communities, as well. That seems to be the model for sustainability of community journalism in South Dakota and elsewhere.”
“We have appreciated the work that editor Erik Kaufman (who will leave that post July 1) has done for the Herald and the relationships we’ve made with the people of Menno and Olivet,” Waltner said. “We hope to continue to work with and for the people of those communities and deliver them a community newspaper that is highly respected across the state and beyond.”
Those with questions about the closing of the Herald should contact the Freeman Courier by calling 925-7033, emailing or writing to Freeman Courier, PO Box 950, Freeman, SD 57029.