Small Town News


An opportunity to build neighborhood

Freeman Courier of Freeman, South Dakota

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OUR OPINION: If civil discourse rules, then the 200 block of Main Street can be a good place for everybody.

The Freeman City Council faced a tough decision Monday night, forced to weigh the interests of several business owners holding different positions on bringing a bar to 231 S. Main in downtown Freeman, the location of what has, for decades, been a restaurant.

Details of the discussion at the council's Nov. 2 meeting can be found on pages 4A of this issue of the Courier. But here is a bit of additional perspective.

Whether you agree or disagree with the council's decision to approve Ron Baker's request to transfer his liquor and malt beverage permits and open his bar in what was most recently Ann's Place, there's reason to celebrate the tone of the hour-long discussion Monday night. It was civil, orderly, thoughtful and respectful.

No name-calling. No shouting. No interruptions. No outbursts.

It was inevitable; someone was going to be disappointed and in the end it was those business owners who tried, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to persuade the six city councilors to deny the transfer. Despite the inner emotions obvious in the council chambers when the roll was called, the 5-1 decision was met by neither shouts of joy nor boos of disappointment.

Business goes on and life goes on and the real challenge facing everyone — business owners, city officials and citizens — is to make the best of it and work toward mutual understanding, cooperation, sensitivity and support.

The words "neighbor" and "neighborhood" were used on several occasions during Monday night's discussion. They should be invoked in the days, weeks and months to come. This may not be the neighborhood everyone wanted when the meeting began, but it's the neighborhood we've got.

And there's lots of reason to focus on that. It's been a rough couple of weeks for Freeman's 200 block on Main and there are still issues to deal with. That includes the current lack of sidewalk on the east side of where the Schamber Building once stood. That was among the casualties of the demolition Oct. 17. See the photo. City officials initially said there were no immediate plans to replace it, but the council stood up and said replacement should come sooner rather than later. The councilors are to be commended for pushing for that; the businesses on the 200 block and their customers deserve to have a clear path, particularly with winter just around the corner. That's neighborhood.

And Monday's decision on a bar at 231 S. Main can also prompt a new spirit of neighborhood. Ron Baker opened that door Monday night.

"We're not trying to go in there to wreck a neighborhood," he said. "We have every intention of being good neighbors. We always want open communication. If they see a problem, come and tell us."

If the same spirit of civility, order, thought fulness and respect in evidence Monday night continues in conversations in the days, weeks and months to come, the new neighborhood in the 200 block can be a good place for everyone.

And, the real lesson here, is that Freeman needs to strengthen that same sense of neighborhood for our entire community. It's not a stretch to say that working toward that goal will be the key to our success and vitality.

The Freeman Courier editorial reflects the opinion of publisher Tim L. Waltner and editor Jeremy Waltner.

Copyright 2015 Freeman Courier, Freeman, South Dakota. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015

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