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Representing the US overseas
US attorney grateful to have served in Afghanistan

SIOUX CITY | Volunteer for a special task at work, and the odds increase that your boss is going to look your way the next time someone is needed for another big assignment.

How do you respond, especially if what's being asked is difficult, maybe even dangerous?

When asked to spend a year representing the U.S. Justice Department in Afghanistan, Forde Fairchild said yes.

He'd already served in a similar capacity in Iraq six years earlier, so he felt that there wasn't much of a choice to be made.

"When you get a call like that, it's not something I felt I could say no to," said Fairchild, a Terril, Iowa, native who's been an assistant U.S. attorney in Sioux City since 2004.

Fairchild agreed to serve as Justice Attache for Afghanistan, the U.S. attorney general's representative in the country, after being approached about the assignment in late 2015. He secretly completed the necessary training and left Sioux City the day after wrapping up a big case in September 2016. He arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital city, just a few days later for a yearlong detail that included coordinating American investigations for cases to be prosecuted in the United States and helping the Afghans become better investigators and prosecutors of complex cases.

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Forde Fairchild shows photos taken during his detail to Afghanistan. Fairchild recently spent a year as the U.S. Justice Department's top representative to Afghanistan, where he advised Afghan justice officials and helped them develop investigative skills needed to prosecute complex terrorism, narcotics and corruption cases.

With years of experience investigating difficult cases, Fairchild passed on his knowledge to Afghanistan's attorney general and leaders in units that prosecute terrorism, narcotics and corruption cases. He was there to observe and assist, not to try their cases for them.

"The most important work in Afghanistan is being done by Afghans," he said. "I would help them think through their next steps and put their cases together."

Committed to ending those major criminal activities, Afghan justice officials face many difficulties. Insurgents target the criminal justice system, committing robberies, kidnappings and other crimes. Then they enter the city, tell the citizens that the government is incapable of protecting them and offer their own form of justice.

"They use their criminality as an example of the government's failure," Fairchild said.

Justice officials are often targets of violence, so it takes courage to bring charges against powerful warlords and other officials. During Fairchild's time in Afghanistan, there were a number of bombings and rocket attacks on judicial, government and diplomatic buildings in Kabul.

"They face a dangerous and capable insurgency, and they have many elites who think they are above the law, but progress is being made," Fairchild said. "While assisting them, you have equal parts of inspiration and disappointment. Taking the right steps against the right people, despite hardships and risks, is inspiring. The problems are huge. You realize how far they have to go, and that's depressing."

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Forde Fairchild collected a number of challenge coins from military units and other government agencies while serving as Justice Attache to Afghanistan. Fairchild recently returned to Sioux City after the yearlong detail.

Working in a foreign system with so many challenges helped Fairchild appreciate a U.S. justice system that can function against rich, powerful people.

"It reinforces my understanding of what a valuable resource our justice system is and how it needs to be protected," he said.

The Afghanistan detail wasn't a career booster for Fairchild. He didn't get a promotion or raise as a reward for the year he spent away from his family. The experience paid off in other ways.

"It changes a person's perspective," Fairchild said.

It was impressive to watch U.S. military personnel and diplomats do their jobs while separated from their families. Fairchild enjoyed meeting the Afghan people, who he said are generous, kind and polite. As an American citizen, it helped to see the world from central Asia and realize the strategic importance Afghanistan holds in the midst of neighbors such as China and Iran.

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Forde Fairchild shows a ring with a lapis lazuli stone, a semiprecious stone found in Afghanistan, that was a gift from Afghan staff members who worked with him during his yearlong detail to the Asian country. Fairchild recently returned to Sioux City after serving as the Justice Attache to Afghanistan, the U.S. attorney general's representative to the country.

Fairchild witnessed Afghanistan's growing economic activity, the number of schools that have opened and an improving justice system. It gave him hope that the country is establishing the services and operations needed to someday stand on its own to withstand the insurgents' attempts to weaken the government.

"The challenges are enormous, but I am optimistic," he said.

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Forde Fairchild recently returned to Sioux City after spending a year as Justice Attache for Afghanistan. The Terril, Iowa, native has been in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sioux City since 2004.

With 27 months spent in war zones in the past seven years, Fairchild has certainly paid his dues, and he said it was an honor to serve his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

If asked to do so again?

That sense of duty might make it hard to say no.

Northwest Iowa holding city elections Tuesday

SIOUX CITY | Northwest Iowans will cast ballots for City Council members and, in some cities, for mayor during statewide city elections Tuesday. 

In Sioux City, six candidates are vying for three open seats on the City Council. Incumbents Pete Groetken, Alex Watters and Dan Moore are running against challengers Denny Quinn, Jake Jungers and Doug Waples.

Voters can cast their ballots at one of 13 voting centers in Sioux City from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Sergeant Bluff voters will decide a contested race for mayor Tuesday, with incumbent Jon Winkel running against current City Councilwoman Nicole Cleveland. 

Sergeant Bluff voters can cast their ballots from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Sergeant Bluff Community Center, 903 Topaz Drive.

Polls are also open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Moville, IowaThe remaining Woodbury County cities holding elections have polls open from noon to 8 p.m.

People who have requested and received an absentee ballot but not mailed it in can vote in one of two ways Tuesday. They can either bring it to the Woodbury County Auditor's Office to submit the ballot in person or visit one of the voting centers to "surrender" their absentee ballot and vote at the voting center. 

Residents cannot vote in person at the courthouse Tuesday. 

Other Northwest Iowa cities have varying polling hours based on precinct. Check with your local county auditor to see when yours are open. 

Trump strikes hard line against NKorea in Japan

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Reviewing American forces along the Korean peninsula, President Donald Trump met with U.S. and South Korean military leaders today at the start of a two-day visit centered on pressuring the north to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Trump has repeatedly struck a hard line against Pyongyang and South Korea was warily watching Trump as he was poised to deliver bellicose warnings in the shadow of the North Korea. Shortly after arriving in South Korea, Trump traveled by helicopter to Camp Humphreys, a military base about 40 miles south of Seoul, where he briefly addressed the interlocking issues of security and trade at the heart of his visit.

Speaking before an operational briefing at the base, Trump said he would be meeting with generals about North Korea, declaring: "Ultimately it will all work out. Because it always works out. It has to work out."

The president also said he had a "terrific" meeting scheduled on trade, adding, "hopefully that'll start working out and working out so that we create lots of jobs in the United States, which is one of the very important reasons I'm here."

Trump also sat with troops for lunch in a large mess hall. South Korea's President Moon Jae-in also was seated at the table. "Good food," Trump told reporters as he chatted with U.S. and Korean service members.

U.S. and South Korean officials have said the base visit was meant to underscore the countries' ties and South Korea's commitment to contributing to its own defense. Burden-sharing is a theme Trump has stressed ever since his presidential campaign.

South Korea is the second stop on Trump's five country Asian tour. In Japan, he refused to rule out eventual military action against the north and exhorted dictator Kim Jong Un to stop weapons testing, calling the recent launches of missiles over American allies like Japan "a threat to the civilized world and international peace and stability."

Trump is skipping the customary trip to the demilitarized zone separating north and south — a pilgrimage made by every U.S. president except one since Ronald Reagan as a demonstration of solidarity with the South. A senior administration recently dubbed the border trip as "a bit of a cliche" and several other members of the administration, including Vice President Mike Pence, have visited the DMZ this year. And the White House believes that Trump has already made his support of South Korea crystal clear.

Trump and Moon agree on the need to pressure the North with sanctions and other deterrence measures. But Trump has warned of unleashing "fire and fury," threatened to "totally destroy" the North, if necessary, and repeatedly insisted that all options are on the table. Moon, meanwhile, favors dialogue as the best strategy for defusing the nuclear tension and vehemently opposes a potential military clash that could cause enormous casualties in South Korea.

Trump backed up his strong words about North Korea by sending a budget request to Capitol Hill on Monday for $4 billion to support "additional efforts to detect, defeat, and defend against any North Korean use of ballistic missiles against the United States, its deployed forces, allies, or partners."

And as he departed for South Korea, he tweeted that Moon is "a fine gentleman," adding, "We will figure it all out!"

On a personal level, Trump and Moon have not developed the same close rapport as Trump has with Abe or even China's Xi Jinping. Part of Moon's mission during the visit will likely be to strengthen his personal ties with Trump, said Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution.

"Now poor President Moon is playing catch-up ball because everyone acknowledges that he's not bonding quite as much with Donald Trump as the rest of the region," said O'Hanlon. He said Moon could face pressure "to deliver a stronger relationship" whereas "in most other parts of the world, people are trying to keep their distance from Donald Trump."

Trump will spend today in meetings with Moon, hold a joint news conference and be feted at a state dinner.

Trade also is expected to be a major topic of discussion: Trump has considered pulling out of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement, also known as KORUS, blaming it for the U.S.-South Korea trade deficit.

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Council approves naming rights for Cone Park twilight tubing, fire pit

SIOUX CITY | Two large private donations totaling $75,000 will fund a pair of new amenities at Sioux City's soon-to-open Cone Park. 

The Sioux City Council on Monday approved pledges of $50,000 and $25,000, respectively, from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City and local couple Greg and Teri Grupp. 

The Hard Rock's donation will cover lighting and sound equipment for late-night "twilight tubing" on the park's winter tubing hill, while the Grupps' will fund the construction of a fire pit outside the park's day lodge. The Hard Rock and the Grupps will also receive naming rights to the respective additions. 

The planned twice-weekly "twilight tubing" events will feature multi-color LED light shows set to music on the park's tubing hill. Parks and Recreation staff envision the event would take place 9 to 11 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and special occasions during the winter.

According to park admission fees approved by the council, tickets would cost $10 for the two-hour session, said Parks and Recreation Director Mark Salvatore.


The fire pit will be located near the day lodge and skating rink and will be accessible by sidewalk.  

City Council members on Monday voiced strong appreciation for both donations. 

"The ability for private (sector) and city to work together to make improvements and add amenities to the city that enhance quality of life is really important to the community," said Councilman Pete Groetken.


Councilwoman Rhonda Capron said without donations like those from the Hard Rock and the Grupps, Cone Park would not have some of the features it does.   

KKaufman / Provided 


"Without these people helping us out, we wouldn't have some of this stuff," Capron said. "This is going to be a big year for Cone Park, and I'm real excited to see it happen."  

Located on a spacious field east of Sioux City's IBP Ice Center parking lot, Cone Park will feature a tubing hill, refrigerated ice skating, 1.5-mile trail, fire pit and the day lodge.

The park is named for the late philanthropist Ruth Cone, whose family in 1981 established a trust for a new park that has grown to $2.9 million. Weather permitting, the park will open in mid-December. 

Rescue agencies commended

Mayor Pro Tem Dan Moore on Monday issued a commendation to the local law enforcement and rescue agencies involved in the retrieval of a car and three bodies that plunged into the Missouri River Oct. 16

The 2001 Honda Civic, carrying two adults and a 16-year-old girl, traveled into the river shortly before 4:20 p.m. and went underwater.


Over the next five days, authorities battled strong currents and low visibility to locate the vehicle using sonar, form a plan to reach it and complete a high-risk dive Oct. 21 that resulted in the retrieval of the vehicle and identification of the three bodies inside.   

"You are all to be applauded and thanked, and that's what makes Sioux City such a great city, is what you have all done," Moore said, leading the audience in a standing ovation. 

Moore made the presentation in the absence of Mayor Bob Scott, who typically issues commendations at meetings. 

Water rate agreements

In other action, the council voted to raise 2018 water rates for the communities of South Sioux City and Dakota Dunes by 8.5 percent and 4.42 percent, respectively.

Sioux City has had waterworks agreements with Dakota Dunes and South Sioux City for the purchase of water since 2002 and has a formula for adjusting the rates each year. The last rate adjustment was in 2016. A 2017 rate adjustment was deferred in November of last year



KKaufman / Provided