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.

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.

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.

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