Victoria Wicks

SDPB Freelance Reporter/Producer

Rapid City freelancer Victoria L. Wicks has been producing news for SDPB since August 2007. She has in the past been a newspaper reporter, and she spent about 14 years advocating for crime victims in Rapid City and Aberdeen. Vicky is also a creative writer; several of her short stories have been published, one of them in an anthology titled Fishing for Chickens: Short Stories about Rural Youth. In addition, Vicky is a visual artist, creating pottery, watercolors, oil and acrylic paintings, and photographs. She holds a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of South Dakota.

South Dakota Game Fish & Parks has asked the state Supreme Court to define what constitutes public interest. The high court heard arguments on Tuesday, April 25. GF&P maintains that townships in Day County did not serve the public interest when they vacated roads leading to certain public lands or water. A Fifth Circuit judge ruled for the townships, and GF&P appeals.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Buffalo Chip Campground became an incorporated city after the Meade County Commission authorized an election in May 2015. The city of Sturgis and local landowners challenged the incorporation, and a Fourth Circuit judge nullified it. He found that the Meade County Commission erred when it allowed the election to go forward. Meade County appealed that decision to the South Dakota Supreme Court, who heard arguments on Tuesday, April 25.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Unified Judicial System

The South Dakota Supreme Court had a majority of female justices for one case on Tuesday, April 25.

Justice Steven Zinter disqualified himself from a case involving incorporation of Buffalo Chip Campground as a city.

Retired Justice Judith Meierhenry sat in on oral arguments, joining Justices Janine Kern and Lori Wilbur to make a 3-2 majority of women.

Chief Justice David Gilbertson announced this historic event to the audience in the courtroom:

Victoria Wicks

Saturday's March for Science in Rapid City was part of an international Earth Day movement.

Scientists typically don't get involved in politics, but according to national news feeds, they're feeling threatened by proposed federal budget cuts to the EPA, NASA, and other science-based programs.

Some Rapid City signs referred to politics: "Science Trumps Opinion," "Science Is Not an Alternative Fact," "Save the EPA."

Victoria Wicks

To see the stars, you must find the dark. And because it's rare to find darkness these days, human-made light is considered to be pollution. This weekend in Rapid City, as part of this year's Earth Day celebration, people gathered at Main Street Square to learn more about it. They saw captive owls and talked with astronomers, the creatures who work by night.

Victoria Wicks file photo

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the 200-year sentence of Paul Dean Jensen. The prison inmate was 14 when he murdered Michael Hare in Fort Pierre 20 years ago.

Jensen was sentenced to life without possibility of parole, the only penalty available to him at the time. After the U.S. Supreme Court found mandatory life sentences for juvenile murderers to be unconstitutional, Jensen came up for a new sentence hearing in June last year.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports this latest development in an ongoing story.

Victoria Wicks

Earth Day activities this weekend in Rapid City will include a March for Science. A junior at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is organizing a march on Saturday from the campus to the Central States Fairgrounds. Cole Sawyer says this is a nonpartisan and diverse group coming together to emphasize the importance of evidence-based research.

Marchers will gather at the Surbeck Center parking lot Saturday morning at 9 a.m. The march ends north of the 4-H building at the Central States Fairgrounds.

For more information:

Victoria Wicks

Recently there has been a national push to get more girls and women involved in the field of technology. One of those efforts is Girls Who Code.

In South Dakota, the club is found at Patrick Henry Middle School in Sioux Falls and the public library in Rapid City.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks visits the small Rapid City gathering for this report.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has reversed the DUI conviction of a Brookings man. Steven Stanage was arrested in October 2014 after driving up to a fast-food pick-up window. He was convicted of first-time DUI, but the magistrate stayed sentencing pending the outcome of the appeal. The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in October last year. The court's majority finds that the arresting officer did not have sufficient cause to stop Stanage's vehicle. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Victoria Wicks

The shoebox full of old letters threatens to become a thing of the past. With email, texting, and cell phones offering unlimited long-distance calling, communication comes more easily these days.

But letter writing still has its advocates. And those advocates have their own month. April is National Letter Writing Month, an event started by the U.S. Postal Service and picked up by stationers. One of them is Egg Press, who donated correspondence kits to the Rapid City Public Library.

Victoria Wicks

A Rapid City artist whose paintings are based on his own collages is displaying his work at the Dahl Arts Center. The exhibit, Occasional Void, opened this weekend. Luke Gorder's paintings mix incongruous images for an often surreal result. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this story.

The exhibit Occasional Void is at the Dahl Arts Center until June 24. Also showing is Comic Spirit, artwork with humor as a theme, compiled from the works of various Native artists from the 1970s to now.

SD Department of Corrections

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the 92-year sentence of Daniel Charles, who murdered his stepfather in 1999. Charles was 14 at the time. He had been sentenced to life without parole, but was given a second chance resulting from a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2012.

Charles appealed that second-chance sentence, saying it was too harsh given his youthful immaturity at the time of the crime.

The state high court rejected that argument. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Victoria Wicks

The history of birth control and abortion is a long one. In the United States, abortion and contraception were legal from Colonial times until the late 1800s. Then state legislatures, pushed by the American Medical Association, began outlawing abortion. And some states adopted and expanded Comstock laws, set by the federal postal service to ban the shipping of contraceptives and informational pamphlets.

At about the same time these laws were passed, the concept of the right to privacy began to emerge.

Victoria Wicks

The legal status of birth control and abortion has evolved over the years, resulting in an established right to privacy that continues to play out in the courts.

A Black Hills State professor led a panel discussion on that topic on March 28 in Rapid City.

About two dozen people came together inside the Dahl Arts Center meeting room, as about the same number of protesters stood outside the window.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Manlove Psychiatric Group

A two-day conference called New Paradigms in Mental Healthcare starts Friday in Rapid City.

The conference will highlight emerging treatments for mental health issues, treatment-resistant depression, and brain injuries.

The conference is hosted by the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center and the Manlove Psychiatric Group. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

The conference runs Friday and Saturday, March 24-25, at the Holiday Inn Rushmore Plaza, with six presentations per day. The conference is open to the public with a fee of $100 each day.

http://equalmeansequal.com/

Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment failed by just three states in 1982. As a result, women today are not protected equally in a number of areas, including employment, criminal justice, and healthcare. That's the message of a documentary titled Equal Means Equal, screened at the Journey Museum in Rapid City Wednesday night. Democracy in Action sponsored the film to observe Women's History Month. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Unless the legislature says otherwise, owners of flooded land can keep hunters, fishers, and boaters off their property. The South Dakota Supreme Court issued that opinion this week in a Day County case.

Game, Fish & Parks has maintained that members of the public may use the water as long as they get to it by legal means. But landowners say it's up to the legislature to enact a statute, and so far lawmakers have declined to do so.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Victoria Wicks

The Keystone XL pipeline has had a long history for something that so far does not yet exist. It's future has not been decided either.

South Dakota's Public Utilities Commission first permitted the pipeline to cut diagonally across the western half of the state in 2010.

But TransCanada did not complete the project within four years, and so state law required the company to make assurances that it could still meet the requirements of the permit.

Victoria Wicks

The Keystone XL pipeline is at issue once again, this time in a South Dakota courtroom. Opponents filed an appeal in 2016 after the Public Utilities Commission gave the go-ahead for the pipeline the previous year. On Wednesday in Pierre, a Sixth Circuit judge heard oral arguments in the case.

Opponents say the PUC didn't do its job to ensure that TransCanada can build a safe pipeline.

But the PUC and TransCanada say the outcome followed state law.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks traveled to Pierre to get this report.

Victoria Wicks file photo

Paul Dean Jensen spent 20 years in prison, serving life without parole for a murder he committed in 1996 at the age of 14. In June, a judge reconsidered that penalty and imposed a 200 year sentence, with parole eligibility in 2021.

Now Jensen is appealing that second sentence. He says the sentencing judge abdicated his responsibilities to the parole board.

The South Dakota Supreme Court will consider this case on briefs during its March term. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

In 2014, South Dakota committed to using the services of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, or SBAC. The consortium is located at UCLA and provides testing of K-12 student achievement.

On Tuesday, Feb. 14, the South Dakota Supreme Court heard oral arguments from its opponents. Two South Dakota taxpayers filed suit through the Thomas More Law Center, an organization in Michigan that battles Common Core standards. The plaintiffs claim the consortium is an interstate compact requiring consent of the U.S. Congress and violates state and federal law.

In 2011, prison officer Ron Johnson was murdered by two inmates who were trying to escape. His widow, Lynette Johnson, sued the South Dakota Department of Corrections and certain of its employees, in particular then-Warden Doug Weber. She holds that prison officials knew the inmates were planning an escape, but concealed that information after the incident.

The suit has been dismissed by both a federal court and state court. Now Lynette Johnson has appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

Victoria Wicks file photo

A package of legislation designed to address mental health issues in criminal justice has been presented to the legislature in Pierre. House Bill 1183 is assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

Chief Justice David Gilbertson has led the effort to reduce recidivism and increase services to mentally ill people who often end up in jail.

Victoria Wicks

A psychologist from San Antonio's Haven for Hope came to Rapid City on Thursday, Feb. 2, to speak to a crowd of more than 200 people at the Dahl Arts Center. This was a second trip for Gilbert Gonzales. He also visited in 2011 to help city and county officials kick off plans for a comprehensive service center for homeless people. Gonzales says addiction and mental illness often underlie homelessness, and treating the issues can ultimately save taxpayers a lot of money.

Victoria Wicks

The Black Hills Celtic Society celebrates the birthday of Scots poet Robert Burns every year. The Bard of Scotland--the Ploughman's Poet--was born in the middle of the Eighteenth Century and died young. But before he went, he produced 12 children by four women and an impressive collection of poetry and song. His birthday, Jan. 25, is celebrated wherever Scots live throughout the world. And that includes Rapid City. SDPB's Victoria Wicks joined that group Saturday night.

Miss Weiss

On Saturday South Dakotans joined millions of people across the world for a one-day rally. The Women's March on Washington was established as a show of solidarity and a rallying cry that women's rights are human rights. Companion marches took place in all 50 states and across the globe.

In Rapid City, protesters filled the City Administration parking lot, marched through a few blocks of downtown, and then gathered in Memorial Park.

Sent by Suzan Nolan

One of the South Dakotans who joined the Women's March on Washington, D.C., was Suzan Nolan of Rapid City.

Nolan had initially made arrangements to travel to Hillary Clinton's inauguration. After Donald Trump's victory, Nolan heard about the Women's March and kept her plane ticket.

Nolan talks with SDPB's Victoria Wicks from Washington after the march.

SD Department of Corrections

It has been 17 years since Dottie Poage lost her son to murder. Three men were convicted of killing Chester Poage, and all three men have had different outcomes.

One of them is Briley Piper, waiting on death row in the South Dakota State Penitentiary.

On Tuesday, Jan. 17, he failed to have his death sentence overturned by a state judge in the Fourth Circuit.

Dottie Poage tells SDPB's Victoria Wicks that she has had to be patient all these years, watching Piper go through years of appeals to avoid execution.

MELISSA HAMERSMA SIEVERS / SDPB

The importance of punctuation and grammar was at issue in the South Dakota Supreme Court on Wednesday. In a case involving open records, justices heard from lawyers representing the Argus Leader and the City of Sioux Falls. The dispute revolves around the wording of one short paragraph in the open records chapter and whether it allows government entities to keep records closed when they’ve entered into a contract.

Prior to 2009, South Dakota law established that government records were closed unless there was some reason to open them.

Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB

The importance of punctuation and grammar was at issue in the South Dakota Supreme Court on Wednesday. In a case involving open records, justices heard from lawyers representing the Argus Leader and the City of Sioux Falls. The dispute revolves around the wording of one short paragraph in the open records chapter and whether it allows government entities to keep records closed when they've entered into a contract. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

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