History of Community Counseling Services


Duane Majeres, MS, QMHP

Retired Executive Director

Early efforts to offer mental health services to Huron and surrounding communities began in 1957 when a team of four mental health professionals from the Yankton State Hospital came to Huron once every 2 months to provide follow-up care for people who had recently been discharged from the state hospital. They worked out of the men’s locker room at the Huron Arena.

Late in 1959 a group of interested citizens from Huron began meeting informally to discuss organizing a community mental health center. Articles of Incorporation establishing the Central South Dakota Mental Health Center were filed on March 25, 1960 and the doors of the center were opened on September 26, 1960 in a suite of offices in the Standard Oil Building at 317 Iowa SE with Frank Tikalsky, clinical psychologist, as director and Jeannine Hittle as secretary/receptionist.

The agency was incorporated in the state of South Dakota on April 11, 1960.

In 1962 John Larson, MD, psychiatrist was hired as the director. Dr. Larson received national acclaim prior to joining the center and had been written up in LIFE magazine for his invention of the polygraph (lie detector).

During the directorship of Carlos Mendoza, MD (1963-65) an inpatient psychiatric unit at St. John’s Hospital became a reality allowing mentally ill patients to be hospitalized locally. When Dr. Mendoza resigned the directorship was assigned to William McManus, a clinical psychologist on staff. Under McManus the orientation of services changed from a medical model to a guidance and resource model. In 1966 the center relocated to the IMI Building on Third Street SW. When McManus resigned in 1968 to return to graduate school the Board struggled to hold the center together without a director as they lobbied for funding and recruited new staff. Tyra Talley, a well respected pastor/counselor in Miller accepted the position of director at the request of the Board.

In 1970, the center was approached by the Huron Public School District with the idea of starting a pilot program to counsel students in the schools. In the fall the program was initiated in two elementary schools and the agency has maintained a continuous relationship with the school district to the present time.

In 1972 the Board and staff worked with a group of local citizens interested in starting a group home/treatment center for troubled adolescents. This project became a reality when the doors to Our Home, Inc. were opened in January 1973. Ben Peters, Ph.D. was hired to direct the agency in 1973 and the center became an accredited community mental health center in 1974.

The name of the center was changed from Central South Dakota Mental Health Center to Community Counseling Services in January 1975. Paul Felix, MSW was appointed director in August 1975 and he hired the agency’s first alcohol counselor in the spring of 1976. In November 1976 CCS moved to 1552 Dakota Avenue South with the first purchase of property to house the agency.

Word was received in 1978 that Community Counseling Services was one of 10 centers nationally and one of two rural centers funded to pilot a Community Support Program to assist in deinstitutionalizing state hospital patients. A transitional living facility was opened in the old convent at 475 Iowa SE. Under the direction of the late Ella Bradfield, RN and Frank Dame, Ph.D., the program became a showpiece for the State of South Dakota in demonstrating how to transition people hospitalized back into their home community.

Val Farmer, Ph.D. became the 8th director of CCS in the fall of 1978. With the opening of the Community Support Center and the addition of outpatient programming the agency experienced a phenomenal growth doubling in size within a one-year period. The year 1981 was a difficult year for many area farm families due to changes in federal monetary farm policies. CCS developed specialized mental health services to reach out to suffering farm families. Dr. Farmer resigned his position with the agency to pursue his passion of working with rural families.

In July 1982 Duane Majeres, MS was promoted to the position of Executive Director with instructions from the Board to tighten the organization structure of the agency, pulling the three clinical units of Outpatient Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug treatment, and the Community Support Center into a working whole. In 1983 CCS initiated a structured outpatient chemical dependency treatment program providing Huron area residents with an alternative to traditional inpatient treatment. The Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program continues to provide less expensive, community-based treatment services to many residents with an addiction problem every year.

In 1986 CCS partnered with Huron Regional Medical Center to establish a crisis room in the hospital for the short-term treatment and stabilization of area residents suffering an acute mental illness episode. In 1988 the Board of Directors signed an FmHA loan to purchase and rehab the Standard Oil Building, naming it the Bradfield-Leary Center. In June 1989 the Lake County Commission voted to change their support of mental health services for the county from Sioux Falls to Community Counseling Services. In 1990 Madison staff moved into the vacant clinic building at 915 NE Third and the agency purchased the building later that year. The Moody County Commission voted to identify CCS as the mental health and alcohol/drug treatment provider for the county in 1993 and a small clinic building was purchased in Flandreau.

The emphasis during the decade of the new century has been on implementing technology to better serve the people receiving care from CCS. In 2005 CCS purchased an electronic medical record system and by 2007 the agency was paperless for all business and clinical recordkeeping. In 2006 CCS contracted with Horizon Health to provide psychiatric tele-medicine services to rural health clinics and in 2008 CCS installed video-conferencing between Huron and Madison to facilitate communication and foster continuity between the two locations.

Clinical improvements during the past decade have included the start of the IMPACT Program in 2001 to more effectively serve people with histories of frequent hospitalizations. In 2004 CCS moved its corporate/outpatient offices to 357 Kansas SE placing all mental health services in Huron into close proximity to Huron Regional Medical Center and the medical clinics for greater coordination of services with primary health clinicians. In July 2007 the Kingsbury County Commission requested that Community Counseling Services be the provider of behavioral health services for the residents of the county.

In 2010,Community Counseling Services celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Huron-based organization, and the 20th Anniversary of the Madison-based office with 66 employees; an annual budget of $4.5 million; provides behavioral health services to 3300 people annually in the 7 county area of Beadle, Hand, Kingsbury, Jerauld, Lake, Miner and Moody counties. The Board of Directors and staff of CCS are grateful for the many years of community support the agency has received to nurture the organization into what it is today.

In 2011, Community Counseling Services expanded their Flandreau office by remodeling a building at 218 2nd Street in Flandreau. In June of 2011, Duane Majeres, Executive Director since 1982, retired.   Deputy Director Shawn Nills served as Executive Director from June 2011 – April 2014.  On April 22, 2014 the Board of Directors then appointed Belinda Nelson as Interim Executive Director.

In August 2014, CCS  announced the selection of Belinda Nelson, BS, LAC, as its new Chief Executive Officer.    Nelson previously served as Policy and Procedure Officer for the organization.

Belinda Nelson photo Aug 2014

Nelson’s resume includes over ­­30 years of behavioral health and management experience in the nonprofit sector. Nelson is a Licensed Addiction Counselor.  Nelson previously served as Addiction Clinical Supervisor, Unit Director, and Policy & Procedure Officer for the organization.