Top Stories of 2018: A Historic Election, Massive House Demolition, and an Execution

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. –  A historic election includes a visit from the president, the demolition of a massive house captivates onlookers, and a family takes a step toward closure, years after a heinous act. We take a look back at some of the top stories of 2018.

History was made in South Dakota politics this year, voters elected their first female governor. Kristi Noem will leave behind Washington D.C. for the governors office at the state capitol in Pierre. In a close race she defeated Democratic candidate Billie Sutton. She says the history of being the first female voted into the state’s highest office isn’t lost on her. Noem knows there is a lot work to be done and plans to hit the ground running.

“In my family there were no girl chores or boy chores, there was just things to get done. So that’s what we’re going to do. I have some big plans for this state. Addressing education, meeting our workforce needs, going after affordable housing, affordable healthcare, dealing with our mental health crisis,” said Noem.

Noem will officially take office with Lt. Governor-elect Larry Rhoden January 5th. Noem’s support for President Donald Trump’s policies brought the President to South Dakota. He made his first appearance in the state as President in September, attending a campaign event in Sioux Falls. Speaking at a closed-door private event at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, Trump credited Noem for being tough in Congress and said she was a great candidate for governor.

The final chapter of a botched prison escape ended with the execution of Rodney Berget. Berget was killed by lethal injection for the 2011 killing of Ronald “R.J.” Johnson. Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and wrapped his head in plastic before taking his uniform in their escape attempt.

Johnson’s widow talked with us after the execution.

“He just laid on this clean, white table. Couple deep breaths, that’s it,” said Lynette Johnson.

Bergets partner, Eric Robert was executed in October 2012.

Tariffs imposed by President Trump reverberated throughout farm country. China retaliated with tariffs of its own, driving down prices for American goods, like corn, soybeans, and hogs.

“A few months ago, our gross check on that truckload of pigs would have been $30,000. Now about a month ago, that same load of hogs was only bringing $14,000,” said Lake Preston farmer, Shane Odegaard.

The legal battle over a giant house in the McKennan Park area ended when the owners tore the house down. A judge ruled that the couple who built the home ignored historic code and city regulations, they were given a choice, move it or tear it down.

“Very surreal. It’s sad, you know, no matter what has transpired. It’s still a travesty to see the house go,” said Sioux Falls resident Stephani Scheurenbrand.

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