Janelle Atyeo column

Janelle Atyeo

A few short weeks ago, I had no idea what a radical move it was to get together with a group of friends down the street. The city of Sioux Falls had just declared an emergency, prohibiting gatherings of 250 or more in city-owned facilities. In my work world, it meant that the Tri-State Neighbor wouldn’t be setting up a booth at the Central Plains Dairy Expo and I wouldn’t be collecting delicious cheese samples from neighboring booths. But at home, it was business as usual.

Then gatherings were further restricted, church was canceled, restaurants were urged to close, and school was called off. We were all encouraged to stay 6 feet from one another and leave home only for essentials like groceries and toilet paper – if we could find it. Things got weird, quick.

But we’re finding ways to cope. I hope you all are taking the necessary precautions, staying healthy, washing hands and, for the love of Pete, not hoarding toilet paper.

We at Tri-State Neighbor are here to help. We’ve been working hard to bring you the latest news about how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting the agricultural world. On our website, you’ll see a link to COVID-19 Ag Updates. You’ll find all the virus-related coverage from us and all of our Lee Agri-Media sister publications.

If you’re sick of COVID-19 news, we’ve got you covered there, too. We’ve got great feature stories that are fun to read anytime. In this issue, there’s a feature on a pair of veterinarians from northeastern Nebraska who have been sharing the life of a rural vet on a reality TV show called “Heartland Docs, DVM,”

The March 27 issue also includes the last installment of this year’s Prayers on the Prairie series on rural churches. I have every intention to visit more churches over the summer and resume the series next winter, so keep the suggestions coming.

In the meantime, you can read about any of the nearly 40 churches we’ve featured over the years on our website. I’ve even created a handy map so you can spot them by location.

Now that spring is officially here, the weather seems to be shaping up. I hope it means our farmers can get in the field on time and start this growing season on a positive note. Agriculture, being deemed among the “essential” businesses during this pandemic, will persevere.

I’m lucky right now to have a job that allows me to work remotely, even if our home has turned into an office, a school and a day care.

I feel for friends in the service industry who are now without a job, and I worry what this crisis will do to our local businesses and the nation’s economy. My husband and I have trying to support our favorite Sioux Falls businesses. We picked up meals to go from some of our favorite restaurants last week. I urge you to do what you can to support the businesses in your community.

Remember to check in often with loved ones and neighbors. It’s an uneasy time, but a friendly phone call can mean so much.

Janelle is editor of the Tri-State Neighbor, covering South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, northwestern Iowa and northeastern Nebraska. Reach her at jatyeo@tristateneighbor.com or follow on Twitter @JLNeighbor