Global Aquaponics broke ground
on the facility in June of 2016.
Even though the aquaponic farm was supposed to be ready by spring of 2017, that didn't happen. And the backgrounds of some of the main players, Tobias Ritesman and Andre Grant, were fake
You may remember KELOLAND News even tracked down the real Global Aquaponics business in Texas.
Now there's another peculiar chapter to this ongoing story involving the building site itself.
Shortly after Global Aquaponics broke ground on the land it was supposed to build on, KELOLAND News checked with the register of deeds in Brookings County and the company hadn't even closed on the land yet.
In fact, that didn't happen until a full year later.
KELOLAND News Investigates spoke with the original owner of the land, Todd Voss, and pulled the deeds. It turns out Global Aquaponics did finally acquire the land a full year later, thanks to the help of Former Board of Regents President and well-known Pierre lobbyist and former state legislator, Dean Krogman.
Here's how that deal worked:
Global Aquaponics was supposed to buy 10 acres of land just South of Brookings from Real Estate Agents, Todd Voss and Greg Kneip, who owned all 40 acres.
Ritesman's group agreed to buy the land for $200,000. Voss tells KELOLAND News he expected to close on the land immediately.
Voss says Global Aquaponics did not get permission to hold the groundbreaking before the deal went through, but held the event without it.
However, months later when the deal still hadn't gone through, Global Aquaponcis had insulation for concrete delivered to the property and Voss made them remove it because they didn't own the land yet.
But in May of this year, former Board of Regents president and state legislator Dean Krogman stepped in and traded a twin home he owned on Copper Mountain Road for the land. The twin home was valued at about $25,000 less than the price Global Aquaponcis had originally agreed to pay, but Voss tells KELOLAND News it was close enough.
Then Krogman turned over the land to SD Food Security which is the company formed by Tobias Ritesman to develop the Global Aquaponics facility.
Here's what Ritesman told us at the 2016 groundbreaking on the land he didn't yet own. Kennecke:
How much will it cost you to build this facility? Ritesman:
$8 million Kennecke:
$8 million, and who's investing in it? Ritesman:
Me, my investors local guys-some of the gentlemen over here--my esteemed colleagues.
Voss tells KELOLAND News that originally Global Aquaponics was supposed to close on the 10 acres by the end of August in 2016 and then purchase another 10 acres by the end of 2016.
Of course, that never happened.
KELOLAND Investigates repeatedly tried to contact Dean Krogman to find out more about his involvement in the project and left messages by phone and email this week, but they went unreturned.
Ritesman put out a news release after our original investigation saying the aquaponics facility was "delayed, but alive" and that "fundraising and contracting" difficulties set back the project.
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Our KELOLAND News investigation exposed all kinds of claims that just didn't add up over the promise to build a hydroponic and fish farm near Brookings.