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.

Russell Ray Bertram was convicted of first-degree murder in 2016. A jury found that he intentionally killed his girlfriend with a shotgun while they were hunting in Gregory County in 2009.

Bertram appeals his conviction on two points. He says the prosecution should not have been allowed to introduce evidence of his infidelity to his girlfriend. And he says the judge should have allowed the jury to know he had taken a polygraph.

The South Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments in the case on Wednesday, Oct. 4. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Andrew Bork, SDPB

A Second Circuit judge ruled earlier this year that a newly constructed house in the McKennan Park Historic District of Sioux Falls has to be remodeled or torn down. The homeowners have appealed that decision to the South Dakota Supreme Court. Justices heard oral arguments Tuesday, Oct. 3. Homeowners contend that a monetary settlement should suffice. But neighbors say the huge house is a nuisance.

An Aberdeen man convicted of stabbing his former girlfriend to death is asking for a new trial. The South Dakota Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday, Oct. 3.

John Eric Hemminger says the state should not have been allowed to present evidence taken without a search warrant. And he says the state unnecessarily introduced 26 autopsy photos, which inflamed the jury. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Terri Leclercq

The Argus Leader sued the City of Sioux Falls for violating South Dakota's Open Records Act. The city entered into a contract with Denny Sanford Premier Center contractors to keep contents of a settlement confidential.

The city maintains that one subpart of the Open Records Act allowed that contract to happen legally. A lower court agreed, and the Argus Leader appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

During oral arguments in January, much was made of the placement of one comma and a shaky concept in legal writing called the Doctrine of the Last Antecedent.

In a case that made national headlines in 2015, Joseph Patterson was convicted of murdering the two-year-old son of former Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Patterson appealed his conviction to the South Dakota Supreme Court, who heard arguments Monday, Oct. 2.

At trial, the state brought out testimony that Patterson had a history of harshly punishing other children. Patterson says the evidence unfairly impugned his character. But the state says it was legitimately used to prove motive and absence of accident.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Long-term video surveillance by law enforcement is a search requiring a warrant. That's the decision just issued by a split South Dakota Supreme Court.

The case out of Brookings resulted in the conviction of a drug offender. But the high court did not reverse the conviction. Justices found that the investigator acted in good faith when he installed the camera without first getting a warrant. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Argus Leader in its open records dispute with the City of Sioux Falls.

The city relied on state law to claim it could keep secret the details of a settlement with a contractor. The case involved sub-par metal siding on the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

The Argus Leader sued to gain access to the settlement. A lower court ruled for the city, and the Argus leader appealed.

At oral arguments in January, Argus attorney Jon Arneson said the city's interpretation of state law defeats the intent of open records laws.

Victoria Wicks

A former employee of the South Dakota Department of Revenue pleaded guilty Monday, Sept. 18, to bank fraud and money laundering. Seventy-year-old Steven Arthur Knigge appeared in federal court in Rapid City before U.S. Magistrate Danetta Wollmann.

In a plea agreement, Knigge admitted to two charges, in exchange for dismissal of more than a dozen others.

SD Unified Judicial System

The South Dakota Supreme Court has issued an opinion that both parties knew was inevitable. Justices have ruled that a state law requiring out-of-state vendors to collect sales taxes from their South Dakota customers is unconstitutional.

As SDPB reported in late August, state authorities knew the bill was unconstitutional but passed it into law anyway and then tried to enforce it.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has the latest development on this ongoing story.

Victoria Wicks

American Idol held auditions in Rapid City on Sunday, Sept. 10, and 349 contenders showed up. Rapid City is one of 21 tryout locations for the 2018 season.

Two additional auditions at Houston and San Antonio were canceled because of Hurricane Harvey.

The Fox network hosted the talent show for 15 season, ending it in April 2016. Now ABC is picking it up.

National attention has been drawn to a South Dakota Supreme Court case heard Tuesday, Aug. 29. It centers on a law passed by legislators who knew it could not be enforced.

The law requires out-of-state internet vendors to collect sales taxes from their South Dakota customers and remit the money to the state.

Both sides agreed in advance that justices should not reverse a lower court decision that the law is unenforceable.

The state wants justices to clear the way for the issue to get to the U.S. Supreme Court.

SD Legislature

The state legislature in 2016 passed a law requiring out-of-state vendors to collect sales taxes from their South Dakota customers. The law is particularly aimed at online sellers. Legislators acknowledged that the law is unconstitutional, and that they instigated it to try to get the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Before the highest court considers hearing it, however, the law and its aftermath have to face scrutiny from the South Dakota Supreme Court. That happens Tuesday, Aug. 27, when justices hear oral arguments from both sides.

Victoria Wicks

The Great Plains Native Plant Society is building a memorial garden and visitors center just south of Hermosa. It takes up a small corner of the 340 acres of land dedicated to the cause by South Dakota rancher Linda Hasselstrom.

People can go there and hike over grassland--or sit on it, or lie on it--to discover the diverse ecosystem in South Dakota's slice of the Great Plains.

Comments made by a Troy Township supervisor were pivotal in a South Dakota Supreme Court partial reversal. The court made its opinion public on Thursday, Aug. 17.

At issue is the vacating of roads in three townships in Day County. Game, Fish & Parks appealed those vacations to the Fifth Circuit, saying the township boards were trying to cut off public access to disputed bodies of water in Day County.

Victoria Wicks

Our warming climate presents a challenge for gardeners as well as farmers. Weather patterns have become less predictable. As the temperatures rise, it might seem that plants from warmer zones could be planted here in South Dakota. But a horticulture specialist for SDSU Extension says not all components of climate patterns have changed, and gardeners are bound by extremes. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Victoria Wicks

Soil in Rapid City, as well as other places in West River, can be heavy and compacted in some places. Gardeners can add amendments but have to be careful not to add herbicides that can harm their plants. A horticulture specialist for SDSU Extension gives SDPB's Victoria Wicks some tips for safe soil amendments.

To see a USDA document touting radishes as a cover crop, click here:

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_022940.pdf

Victoria Wicks

Meat goats and tomatoes are the subjects of tours coming up in Custer on Thursday, Aug. 10. Participants will tour Pleasant Valley Farm and Windsong Valley Garden.

The Custer event is the third in a series of six South Dakota Specialty Producers tours.

Rhoda Burrows is a horticulture specialist for SDSU Extension.

Victoria Wicks

There is a difference between science and science fiction, of course. But the two converge at events like Comic Con. At the Denver Comic Con this summer, real scientists included three students and a lecturer from the physics department at the School of Mines and Technology.

PUC

If you have a phone, and who doesn't, you've probably been annoyed or alarmed by robocalls. Those are the recorded messages that offer credit repair or vacations, or tell you the IRS is going to be on your doorstep with a warrant if you don't send money NOW. Caller ID doesn't help. These days scammers can pirate phone numbers that appear to be local or legitimate. Public Utilities Commission Chairwoman Kristie Fiegen says every time there seems to be a solution, technology gives scammers a way to dodge it. She says the best answer is not to fall for the scam.

Photo illustration by Victoria Wicks

In the final concert of the Chamber Music Festival of the Black Hills, held last weekend, musicians explored overlapping influences on composition. Festival organizers called this last concert "Bach, Brahms, and Brothels, a provocative title guaranteed to draw interest.

Festival director Michael Hill says musicians, including Brahms, often found work playing in bars and brothels. That more relaxed style had a deep influence on classical composers of the Romantic era and the 20th Century.

The art of Maurice Sendak is on display at the Rapid City Public Library through Sept. 1. Sendak is known for rather dark children's stories, illustrated with finely detailed drawings of fantastical beasts. The artist and writer has appealed to children and adults for generations. He died in 2012 at the age of 83, after a 65-year career. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this story from the kickoff party this weekend.

Annette Bosworth

The South Dakota Supreme Court has overturned Annette Bosworth's perjury convictions but upheld other charges.

Bosworth ran for U.S. Senate in South Dakota in 2014, and lost in the primary election.

To get on the ballot, she submitted nominating petitions to the Secretary of State with a sworn verification that she had personally circulated them. But a subsequent investigation showed she was in the Philippines at the time the signatures were gathered.

The supreme court found that the state misinterpreted the statute it applied when charging Bosworth with perjury.

Victoria Wicks

TransCanada has successfully fended off another challenge to the Keystone XL pipeline.

In a decision filed Monday, June 19, Sixth Circuit Judge John Brown determined that the SD Public Utilities Commission acted appropriately when it accepted TransCanada's assertions that the pipeline can still be built safely.

The PUC issued a permit in 2009, but TransCanada failed to construct the pipeline within four years. The company then had to certify that it can still comply with conditions set in the permit.

Victoria Wicks

Not all soils are created equal. Just inside Rapid City's boundaries, for example, the northeast soils are much more challenging to gardeners than those on the west side of town. And what's a gardener to do? Amend, amend, amend. Some gardeners build their own compost piles or buy soil amendments. Others head to the landfill, where not only lawn and yard waste is composted, but also household garbage.

INFORMATION ON GARDEN WALK:

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the state Department of Corrections. DOC was sued by the widow of Ron Johnson, the corrections officer who was killed in 2011 by inmates trying to escape.

Lynette Johnson said penitentiary officials had advance notice that the two inmates presented an escape risk but moved them to a less secure facility anyway. Among other claims, Mrs. Johnson sued DOC for wrongful death and infliction of emotional distress.

Victoria Wicks

Traditional art, or folk art, is now featured at The Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City. An exhibit titled "Black Hills Bounty" opened this weekend with a Friday night reception and Saturday demonstrations by some of the artists.

Folk art is characterized by identifiable methods of creation, some of them reaching back into antiquity. Weavers use a loom, spinners use a wheel, and indigenous artists use native materials.

Victoria Wicks file photo

Last year a federal judge in Rapid City ruled that the rights of Indian parents have been systematically violated in Pennington County.

At issue are hearings held within 48 hours of the removal of children from their homes on allegations of abuse or neglect. At those hearings, judges determine whether the child returns home or stays in state custody pending further hearings.

Judge Jeffrey Viken found that officials violated parents' due process rights and the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA. He ordered officials to change their practices to fix the problems.

Victoria Wicks

The School of Mines and Technology is hosting a conference to discuss research at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. The event started Friday, May 12, and continues to Tuesday, May 16.

This is the second conference of this sort. The first was held in 2015. Associate physics professor Richard Schnee chairs this year's conference organizing committee. He says holding the conference every two years seems to be the right timing.

The state Supreme Court has ruled that South Dakota's Common Core assessments are constitutional and follow state law.

The court heard arguments in February from the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan, representing two South Dakota taxpayers.

Plaintiffs argued that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, or SBAC, is an interstate compact requiring consent of Congress. And they said the testing process violates state law.

However, the high court disagrees.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

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.

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