SIOUX CITY | With four minutes left in the game on Wednesday, Coach Ethan Whaley directed his Indiana Wesleyan basketball players to challenge an opponent for Olivet Nazarene. The foe had four fouls, one away from fouling out of the contest.
"No. 14 has four fouls," he said, loudly and clearly, but without shouting, while standing, clad in a sharp, gray suit and tie, on the sideline at the Tyson Events Center. "Can we please get the ball inside and challenge her?"
Whaley didn't rant. He didn't take timeout to draw "14" on his white board and follow it up with three exclamation points. Rather, he said, "Please."
I listened to the directive and watched to see his team respond. The Wildcats, who often laugh with their coach during huddles, scrapped and shot their way to a 78-65 victory over the Tigers in that first-round contest, advancing to Friday's Sweet 16 round of the NAIA Division II Women's National Basketball Tournament.
For this rookie head coach, it marked victory No. 1 in the national tournament, triumph No. 25 in his inaugural campaign.
It isn't easy. Not supposed to be. It takes all manner of cooperation, he's learning. "In the first quarter of our first game this year," Whaley remembered with a smile, "we got behind by 18 points. I was wondering what job I should apply for the next day."
That story ends well for Whaley and Indiana Wesleyan, as the Wildcats won the opener, 74-70.
It hasn't always been punch-lines and laughs for Whaley. It took trial and error, and trial by fire, to get him here. He said he's got all sorts of family members and friends to thank in finding life's right path.
Ethan Whaley was a freshman at Ball State University when he landed atop his roommate and best buddy and heard him draw his last breath. Travis Smith, an up-and-coming golfer at Ball State, died when his aorta separated from his heart following the impact of a head-on collision. The car Whaley and Smith rode in that January afternoon was going 65 miles per hour in an area whose speed limit was 30. Alcohol wasn't a factor, just poor decision-making that cost a young man his life.
"I was in the back seat and Travis was in the front seat, the passenger's seat," Whaley said. "Neither of us was buckled in."
Whaley suffered minor injuries, cuts that required 20-some stitches. He attended the funeral and joined hundreds in grieving, standing outside on a brutally cold winter day in Indiana, watching as Larry Bird, a basketball teammate of Travis' father at Indiana State, stood in line, like everyone else, to pay respects to Travis' parents, Jimmy and Tami Smith, of Terre Haute, Indiana.
Whaley knew he had to change his direction. He wasn't living purposefully. His best friend's death served as a wake-up call the 19-year-old didn't fully answer for some time.
"God was giving me a chance to make changes," he said. "It took time. Thankfully, I had my amazing family behind me. I was like the prodigal son in many ways."
There was a time, in fact, that Whaley's parents, Grant and Mindi Whaley, threatened to take his car and cell phone. His wayward ways, they said, amounted to toxins that could hurt their two younger children.
Two years after the crash, Whaley spent a summer living with Smith's parents, working for Jimmy Smith at the Boys & Girls Club of Terre Haute. Whaley came to see how the Smiths gave of themselves to any parents in the area who suffered the death of a child.
"They'd just show up and offer other parents a soft landing," Whaley said. "They could identify with the pain and they'd offer their help, whether they knew them or not."
The Smiths, he realized, chose an alternate trajectory than many, focusing prayers and attention on others in need, rather than diving deeper in grief. They continue to work with former Ohio State Buckeye and NBA player Greg Oden, Travis Smith's best friend from their AAU basketball days, in hosting the Travis Smith Memorial Golf Tournament each year.
"I went to the golf tournament this summer, because I'm now my own boss (as head coach)," Whaley said. "For the past several years, I've been an assistant coach and that time during the summer had me out recruiting."
Whaley transferred to Indiana Wesleyan as a junior and completed his undergraduate degree in education three years later, in 2011. The Christian environment at the school in Marion, Indiana, proved to be the climate he said he needed as he grew in faith.
He served as director of operations for the men's basketball program as an undergrad before earning a position as a graduate assistant and then an assistant coach, all with the men's team, which won a pair of NAIA Division II national titles in 2014 and 2016.
Whaley applied for and got the women's head coaching job, taking the reins for a program that stumbled to an uncharacteristic 19-13 mark last year and missed the national tournament.
"Our saying is to bring 'juice' to whatever you do," said Whaley, who insists his players, assistant coaches and staff members do all they can with zeal, with life, with togetherness.
As such, Whaley and his assistant coaches complete every off-season workout their Wildcats endure. "If you're doing something with great energy, and if everyone else is doing it with you, a workout can actually be fun," he said.
Whaley, who stands 5-feet, 8-inches tall, weighs 147 pounds. The workouts, it appears, are working.
They're also working for his team, which has a daunting task in tackling top-seeded and undefeated Southeastern of Florida at noon on Friday in a second-round Sweet 16 match-up.
Whaley and his team will give it everything they've got and let the proverbial chips fall. After the game, they'll form a circle at center court to offer a prayer of thanks and more.
And Whaley will glance at his left hand to take notice of the arrow in permanent marker that points skyward. He may reflect about his late friend, consider second chances he's been granted, and offer a prayer for the people -- and the forces -- in his life that keep him looking up.
"It's an upward trajectory," he said of his arrow. "It's the way I live and I try to have our team live: Just get one degree better every day. Slowly but surely I'm getting there. I've had a lot of help along the way."
SIOUX CITY | The Sioux City School District has proposed to take away $4,792 in supplemental pay that the majority of middle and high school teachers annually receive for extra duties beyond the normal workday.
The disclosure came Thursday as the administration presented its first offer for pay and benefits to unionized teachers and support staff. Last month, the Sioux City Education Association, which represents roughly 900 teachers, proposed raising annual teacher base salaries by 3.5 percent to $35,564 for the 2018-19 academic year.
Comparing the proposals from each side is difficult because the district on Thursday offered a flat $100 increase in base salary for teachers. That change would impact individual teachers in varying ways, from a $100 increase to higher amounts, depending upon on their current salary, years of experience and other factors.
District officials in the meeting did not explain the reason for proposing to eliminate supplemental pay for nearly 300 teachers.
Last year, Republican lawmakers approved a major overhaul of the state's 40-year-old collective bargaining law, which now limits mandatory items of negotiation to base salaries for most public employees. The new law carved out an exception for public safety unions, which are allowed to negotiate for both wages and benefits.
Superintendent Paul Gausman and Jim Hanks, the district's attorney, termed the proposed changes in pay as fair, considering the new revenue that will be available to the district.
Hanks said the district is working with tight finances, with the state scheduled to increase supplemental aid to public school districts by only 1 percent.
"This is not a good year in terms of state support," Hanks said.
Brenda Zahner, director of the Siouxland UniServ group of the Iowa State Education Association, said the supplemental pay proposal was a "disappointing" piece of the district offer Thursday.
Zahner said about one-third of all district teachers will lose the supplemental pay intended to compensate them for extra work. About 30 teachers in the audience quickly started buzzing about the proposal as it was presented Thursday.
By having teachers perform additional duties, the district saves money by not having to hire more teachers who would require the district to fund both their pay and benefits.
The district's opening offer to the Sioux City Educational Support Personnel Association, which represents paraprofessional associates, secretaries and bus assistants, was more straight forward.
The SCESPA asked for raises of $1.35 per hour, while the district countered with a proposed 15 cents per hour raise.
The support personnel, depending upon jobs, are paid a widely varying rate of pay.
Altogether, the district employs a combined 1,900 teachers and other staff.
Both unions are seeking three-year agreements through 2021 on contract language pieces, but where the wages could be re-negotiated each year. The school district is offering a basic one-year contract.
Under state law, the first two negotiating sessions between school districts and the unions are open to the public. Future negotiations will take place in private.
Both unions have requested that the district address the so-called permissive language issue -- such as leaves of absence, employee hours, grievance procedures and work year and holidays.
Zahner argued the district should continue to voluntarily negotiate non-wage items such as health insurance, staff reduction procedures, transfers and professional evaluations.
The education unions proposed that those permissive portions be addressed in a new Labor Management Committee, which the unions and district officials have been discussing to possibly have eight members. Hanks and Gausman said Thursday they support having those matters also addressed by the committee, and then placed into the employee handbook, so workers could see the results.
WASHINGTON — After months of trading insults and threats of nuclear annihilation, President Donald Trump agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un by the end of May to negotiate an end to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, South Korean and U.S. officials said Thursday. No sitting American president has ever met with a North Korea leader.
The meeting would be unprecedented during seven decades of animosity between the U.S. and North Korea. The countries remain in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty.
"Great progress being made," Trump tweeted after the South Korean national security director, Chung Eui-yong, announced the plans to reporters in a hastily called appearance on a White House driveway.
Trump added that sanctions will remain in place until there's a deal.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the summit will be a "historical milestone" that will put the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula "really on track."
In a statement read early today by his spokesman, Moon also complimented Trump for accepting Kim's invitation for a summit, saying Trump's leadership will be praised "not only by the residents of South and North Korea but every peace-loving person around the world."
Trump took office vowing to stop North Korea from attaining a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the U.S. mainland, a goal that Pyongyang is on the cusp of reaching. He's oscillated between threats and insults directed at Kim that have fueled fears of war, and more conciliatory rhetoric.
The historic announcement comes during a period of unparalleled tumult in the West Wing, with the president's policy agenda stalled and morale sinking as staff departures proliferate and disrupt efforts to instill more discipline and order.
Trump clearly relished the news of the planned summit. He had made a surprise visit to the White House press briefing room on Thursday afternoon to alert reporters of a "major statement" on North Korea by South Korea. When asked by an ABC reporter if it was about talks with North Korea, he replied: "It's almost beyond that. Hopefully, you will give me credit."
Earlier Thursday, Chung had briefed Trump and other top U.S. officials about a rare meeting with Kim in the North Korean capital. During that meeting, the rival Koreas agreed to hold a leadership summit in late April, the first in a decade.
Kim "expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible," Chung told reporters. "President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization."
The White House said Trump's meeting with Kim would take place "at a place and time to be determined."
"Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze," Trump said in a tweet. "Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time."
It marks a dramatic shift in Trump's stance toward North Korea. He has threatened the pariah nation with "fire and fury" if its threats against the U.S. and its allies continued. He has derided Kim by referring to him as "Little Rocket Man." Kim has pilloried Trump as "senile" and a "dotard."
After Kim repeated threats against the U.S. in a New Year's address and mentioned the "nuclear button" on his office desk, Trump responded by tweeting that he has a nuclear button, too, "but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"
North Korea appeared to confirm the summit plans. A senior North Korean diplomat at the United Nations in New York, Pak Song Il, told The Washington Post in an e-mail that the invitation was the result of Kim's "broad minded and resolute decision" to contribute to the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula.
By the "great courageous decision of our Supreme Leader, we can take the new aspect to secure the peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the East Asia region," Pak wrote.
On Tuesday after leaving Pyongyang, Chung had publicized that North Korea was offering talks with the United States on denuclearization and normalizing ties. But the proposal for a summit still came as a surprise, and will raise questions about whether the two sides are ready for such a high-level meeting.
Just a few hours earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is traveling in Africa, had said the adversaries were still a long way from holding negotiations.
Chung, who credited Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign for the diplomatic opening on the nuclear issue, said Kim understands that routine U.S.-South Korea military drills "must continue."
The drills were suspended during the Winter Olympics recently hosted by South Korea, which provided impetus for the inter-Korea rapprochement. The drills are expected to resume next month and had widely been seen as an obstacle to talks. North Korea has long protested the military maneuvers south of the divided Korean Peninsula as a rehearsal for invading the North.
When the South Korean delegation briefed Trump in the Oval Office, he was joined by a number of top advisers, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, chief of staff John Kelly and the director of national intelligence, among others, according to a senior Trump administration official who briefed reporters after the announcement. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the sensitive diplomatic issue by name and spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was no letter from Kim to Trump, just an oral briefing from the South Korean officials.
SIOUX CITY — Take a bow, Siouxland.
For the third year in a row, the trade publication Site Selection has named Sioux City as the small-size metro area with the most economic development projects.
Sioux City had 26 new or expanded corporate facilities in the category for metros with populations between 50,000 and 200,000 in 2017. That doubled up double the three metros who tied for second place with 13 qualifying projects -- Owensboro, Kentucky, Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Gainesville, Georgia.
To qualifying, a corporate project must meet at least one of three criteria: involve a capital investment of at least $1 million, creation of at least 20 new jobs or addition of at least 20,000 square feet of new floor space. Site Selection's database does not track retail and government projects, schools or hospitals.
Topping Sioux City's corporate investments last year was the $300 million Seaboard Triumph Foods pork plant, which opened in September and hired 1,100 jobs for the initial first shift. Other top 5 projects cited by Site Selection also included Hendrix Genetics' $25 million hatchery near Beresford, South Dakota; the $25 million expansion of the Curly Foods ribs plant in Sioux City and Jay-Clone LLC's $12 million logistics center in Sioux City.
Metro Sioux City, which includes Dakota and Dixon counties in Nebraska, Plymouth and Woodbury counties in Iowa and Union County in South Dakota, has now topped Site Selection's small-size metro list five of the last six years, with the streak interrupted only by a runner-up finish in 2014. Since 2007, the metro area has claimed the top spot seven times.
“Our community has every reason to be proud of our consistent performance in these annual rankings," said Thompson Electric/TEC Corp CEO Skip Perley, who also serves as chairman of the board of directors for The Siouxland Initiative, a regional economic development group. "For many years, our public and private sector partners have worked cooperatively to develop the economic development strategy that is currently paying significant dividends throughout our tri-state region."
In a story in the March issue of the magazine and online, Site Selection highlights the region's long run of success with the headline, "What's in the Water in Sioux City?"
The story quoted Chris McGowan, president of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce and The Siouxland Initiative, as saying it all started years ago when his team looked at what the magazine was counting, and why.
“The first time we won this we were told to be prepared to be put on the road map," McGowan said. "That was prophetic. I have some good things in the pipeline right now too, and nothing would make me happier than to be hearing this news again this time next year.”
Omaha and Chicago won in Site Selection's categories for mid-size and major metro markets.The Atlanta-based trade publication announced the decisions in its March 2018 issue.
According to Site Selection, which has a subscription base of 48,000, its annual rankings are considered the “industry’s scoreboard” in the corporate real estate realm. The publication's Conway Projects Database focuses on new corporate facility projects with significant impact, including headquarters, manufacturing plants, research and development operations, and logistics sites, among others.