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Staying Humble in Doland

Doland, in Spink County, is home to 150 hearty souls.


Despite being the boyhood home of a vice president and hometown of twin Olympic wrestlers and twin Air Force generals, Doland stays humble.

In his 1960 biography of U.S. Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, Michael Amrine described Doland’s main street as “a dog asleep and a few dragonflies that are only pretending to be busy.” A recent Wednesday morning didn’t seem much different when city leaders stood in the middle of Humphrey Drive to have a photo taken. No one worried about traffic interruptions.

Former mayor Craig Schroeder is a founder and 20-year board member of the rural economic development group called Basec. The organization was formed in 1994 with federal funds that most towns used in a one-time application. Doland looked at the bigger picture and utilized the money in a longer-term program. “We were challenged to think outside the box, but when we suggested creating a revolving loan fund to continue long-term, we were told that would have to go all the way to the president for approval,” Schroeder says. Tackling the challenge led a Doland delegation to Washington, D.C., where they enjoyed dinner on the White House lawn, a meeting with Vice President Al Gore and shook hands with President Bill Clinton.

Since then, Basec has provided small business loans, home mortgages and funding for community improvement projects, a testament to the forward-thinking of those town leaders in the 1990s. “Everybody worked hard and believed that we didn’t want the town to die,” Schroeder says. “Why would you not want to make the place you live better?”

Hundreds of home loans have been provided through Basec, a splash pad is on the way, and the city-owned daycare has a staff of seven employees and averages 25 children per day. “I’m extremely fortunate to have the daycare available,” said Basec Executive Assistant Samantha Noethlich. “And it’s really rewarding to see how it helps people in other jobs around town.”

Doland Mayor Stuart Bell, Finance Officer Kam DesLauries, Basec Executive Assistant Samantha Noethlich and former mayor Craig Schroeder are proud of their town and the area's economic growth.

When the Riley Opera House/Twin Kiss Theatre building that housed the Doland Post Office was determined to contain asbestos, it shut down the post office for a short time. Avoiding what might have been the town’s death knell, the city renovated the former library building to make sure postal service stayed in town.

Other businesses in town include two bars, Mayor Stuart Bell’s auto body shop, Full Circle Ag, a convenience store, an insurance office and Jamie and Glenda McNutt’s Just Beecuz Floral and Trophy of a Lifetime Taxidermy.

Glenda McNutt is a Doland native. Though the couple moved away for several years, they found themselves drawn closer to family. “Our oldest son went to school for acting and was chasing his dream, so Glenda wanted to chase her dream of owning a flower shop,” Jamie says. They also purchased the Bottoms Up bar when it became available. “We work our butts off and still don’t make much money at the end of the month,” he says with a laugh.

About 150 mounted animals come out of the taxidermy shop each year. Deer heads, fish and birds mounted by youngest son Dalton are the typical fare. Jamie has done longhorn cattle mounts and once did an armadillo laying on his back drinking a can of beer. “It keeps me from getting a real job,” he quips.

McNutt sees Doland’s location at the corner of highways 37 and 212 as a factor in the continued prosperity of the tiny town. Mayor Bell and Schroeder agree that having a school and post office have been big advantages. “That and people are really giving,” Schroeder says. “We have small town values and people really care.”

A 1983 centennial celebration brought enough people to town that it sparked an every-five-years festival called “Back to Doland” with a big car show and street dance. The most recent “Back to Doland” happened in 2015, but the 2020 celebration was cancelled due to COVID, so residents are looking forward to 2025.

Former resident Hubert H. Humphrey will be celebrated along with former South Dakota governor and Spink County native Harvey Wollman, who passed away in October of 2022. Doland’s famous twins — Dennis and Duane Koslowski, who wrestled in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, and Air Force Generals Marvin and Melvin McNickle — will also be honored.

That will be enough to wake Main Street’s dogs and dragonflies.

Editor’s Note: This story is revised from the January/February 2023 issue of South Dakota Magazine. To order a copy or to subscribe, call (800) 456-5117.


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