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3 finalists interviewed for Briar Cliff University president's job

SIOUX CITY | The search for a new president at Briar Cliff University has been narrowed to an executive currently overseeing the Sioux City school and academic leaders at private colleges in Wisconsin and Montana.

Briar Cliff leaders interviewed the three finalists on campus this week, college spokeswoman Leslie Heying confirmed Friday. 

Ty Rushing / Provided 


The finalists include Briar Cliff Executive Vice President Rachelle Karstens, Thomas Knothe, dean of business and leadership at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Timothy Laurent, vice president of academic affairs at Providence University in Great Falls, Montana.

Rion Sanders, Great Falls Tribune 


Thomas Knothe

"Finalists for the position were on campus this week to tour Briar Cliff’s campus and to meet with our students, faculty, staff and other constituents," Heying said. "We look forward to naming a new president who supports Briar Cliff’s Franciscan values and mission to remain a top choice for academic excellence,"

Sister Kate Katoski, chair of Briar Cliff University’s Board of Trustees, has said she expects a new president to be selected early next year.

Hamid "Ham" Shirvani announced his resignation as president in July, after 14 months on the job. Shirvani's contract runs through the end of the fall semester, but Karstens, who served as Shirvani's chief of staff, has handled day-to-day duties of the president's office since then.

Karstens was hired as Shirvani's chief of staff and the college's top legal counsel earlier this year. She as more than 20 years of experience as a practicing attorney, as well as administrative experience in higher education. Prior to coming to Briar Cliff, she served as executive director of philanthropy and alumni relations at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa; and served as the director of planned giving for the University of Iowa Foundation. She also practiced for 16 years as an attorney with Johnson Law Firm, P.C., in Montezuma, Iowa.

Knothe has served at Viterbo University for since 13 years, starting at dean of the Dahl College of Business in July 2004, according to his personal Linkedin page. He has held his current title as dean of business and leadership since August 2015. He earned an undergraduate degree in business administration from Viterbo in 1986 and a law degree from the Willamette University College of Law in 1989, according to his Linkedin page.

Like Briar Cliff, Vitterbo is a private liberal arts college and one of only 24 Catholic Franciscan universities in the United States. Vitterbo was founded in 1890.

Detailed biographical information on Timothy Laurent was not immediately available Friday. The University of Providence is a private Catholic school founded in 1932.

Shirvani, a controversial figure who has drawn both praise and criticism for his management style during two decades as a college administrator in North Dakota and California, was introduced in April 2016 as the 10th president of Briar Cliff, which was founded as a Catholic college for women and began admitting men in the late 1960s.

During his brief stint with the college, Shirvani drew criticism for some of the changes he began to implement. A number of longtime faculty and staff also departed the college.

Shirvani succeeded Bev Wharton, who led Briar Cliff for 15 years, the longest tenure in its 85-year history.

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Flynn pleads guilty, is cooperating in Trump-Russia probe

WASHINGTON — Michael Flynn, the retired general who vigorously campaigned at Donald Trump's side and then served as his first national security adviser, pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about reaching out to the Russians on Trump's behalf and said members of the president's inner circle were intimately involved with — and at times directing — his contacts.

His plea to a single felony count of false statements made him the first official of the Trump White House to be charged so far in the criminal investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. And his action could be an ominous sign for a White House shadowed for the past year by investigations, turning Flynn into a potentially key government cooperator as prosecutors examine whether the Trump campaign and Russia worked together to influence the 2016 presidential election in Trump's favor.

Friday's developments don't resolve the paramount question of possible Trump-Russia coordination in the campaign, but they do show that Flynn lied to the FBI about multiple conversations last December with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Court papers make clear that senior Trump transition officials were fully aware of Flynn's outreach to Russian officials in the weeks before the inauguration.

The officials were not named in court papers, but people familiar with the case identified two of them to The Associated Press as Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, and former Deputy National Security Adviser KT McFarland, now up for an ambassadorship.

That revelation moves the Russia investigation deeper into the White House. And, given the direct involvement of the transition team in Flynn's calls with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the plea also raises questions about the accuracy of repeated assertions by the administration that Flynn had misled Mike Pence and other officials when he denied having discussed sanctions with the diplomat.

Flynn, the longtime soldier, stood quietly during his plea hearing except to answer brief questions from the judge. He accepted responsibility for his actions in a written statement, though he said he had also been subjected to false accusations. He said, "My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel's Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country."

A former Defense Intelligence Agency chief, Flynn was a considerably more vocal Trump surrogate during the campaign, known for leading rally crowds in "Lock her up" chants regarding Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.

Though prosecutors also had investigated Flynn lobbying work on behalf of the Turkish government, the fact that he was permitted to plead guilty to just one count, and faces a guideline range of zero to 6 months in prison, suggest that prosecutors see him as a valuable tool in their investigation and are granting a degree of leniency in exchange for cooperation.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb sought to distance the plea from Trump himself, saying: "Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn."

Nonetheless, the Russia investigation has persistently followed Trump the first year of his presidency, angering the president and repeatedly distracting from his agenda. Flynn's plea came as Republican senators labored to pass a far-reaching tax bill, which would be a significant victory for Trump.

On Friday, the president ignored reporters' shouted questions as he welcomed the Libyan prime minister to the White House, and aides canceled media access to a later meeting between the two. He did appear briefly at an afternoon White House holiday reception for the media, where he offered season's greetings and departed without addressing the Mueller investigation.

Early on in his administration, Trump had taken a particular interest in the status of the Flynn investigation. Former FBI Director James Comey, whose firing in May precipitated the appointment of Mueller as special counsel, has said Trump asked him in a private Oval Office meeting to consider ending the investigation into Flynn. Comey has said he found the encounter so shocking that he prepared an internal memo about it.

Flynn, who was interviewed by the FBI days after Trump's inauguration, was forced to resign on Feb. 13 following news reports indicating that the Trump White House had been warned by Obama administration officials that he had discussed sanctions with Kislyak and was therefore compromised and potentially vulnerable to blackmail.

White House officials including Pence, who had declared publicly that Flynn never discussed sanctions, said they had been misled.

The court case Friday concerns a series of conversations that Flynn had with Kislyak during the transition period between the November election and the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Prosecutors say Flynn on Dec. 29 spoke with an unnamed senior transition team official about what, if anything, to say about sanctions that had been imposed on Russia one day earlier by the Obama administration in retaliation for election interference. Flynn then requested the Russian ambassador "not escalate the situation" and respond "in a reciprocal manner," a conversation that prosecutors say he then reported to transition team members.

Two former transition officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter, identified McFarland as the unnamed official.

The court papers do not allege that there was anything illegal about Flynn's conversations with the Russians — but his lies about the talks amounted to a felony.

Still, if the Trump transition made secret back-door assurances to Russian diplomats, that could potentially run afoul of the Logan Act, a 1799 law that bars private American citizens from attempting to intervene in "disputes or controversies" between the United States and foreign powers without government approval.

Spunky Samantha is this year's Little Yellow Dog

SIOUX CITY | Small, affectionate and full of pep, this year’s Little Yellow Dog will bring her spunky spirit to the home of the highest bidder at next Saturday's annual auction.

Samantha, a four-month-old Maltese, will find her new home Dec. 9 at the 82nd annual Little Yellow Dog Auction in the atrium of the Ho-Chunk Centre. 


"She is very playful and she is fearless," said Dr. Michelle Bader, kennel master for the Ancient and Effervescent Order of the Little Yellow Dog and veterinarian at Family Pet Hospital in Sioux City. "I brought her home (Wednesday), and she wanted to play with my dogs right away. She was playing with my cats." 

Video: Meet the 2017 Little Yellow Dog

Dr. Michelle Bader from Family Pet Hospital introduces Samantha, this year's Little Yellow Dog. Sammy will be auctioned on Saturday, Dec. 9 at the Ho-Chunk Atrium to benefit the Journal's Goodfellow Charities.

Proceeds from the auction, sponsored by the Ancient and Effervescent Order of the Little Yellow Dog, a local civic group, will benefit the Journal’s Mr. Goodfellow Charity, a tradition that provides gifts and books to 8,000 underprivileged area children at Christmastime.

The Journal's Goodfellows fund began in 1914 to provide Christmas toys to needy children and expanded in 1936 to include the auction of a puppy.

Samantha was donated by Powell Broadcasting, the Louisiana-based company that owns KSCJ radio and a group of other local stations. 

Dennis Bullock, general manager for KSCJ, said the organization wanted to do something more for the community as part of a celebration of KSCJ's 90th year of broadcasting. 


"To give back a little to the community, we decided to purchase the dog," he said, thanking another donor for stepping aside to let them contribute during their anniversary year. 

Bullock said the puppy's name, Samantha, is a tribute to the late Sam Seldon, a longtime engineer and historian at KSCJ who was heavily involved in the Yellow Dog auction each year and with KSCJ's broadcasts of the auction. 

"He was very dedicated to the Yellow Dog, was just a good man," Bullock said. "We love Sam and thought since this was our 90th year, we'd honor him."

Samantha is the second Maltese in a row to be named Little Yellow Dog. Last year's pup, Aspen, sold for $16,000 to an anonymous buyer last year. 

"I think (Samantha's) actually a bit more outgoing than Aspen," Bader said. "She will give anybody and everybody kisses. She's a very affectionate and loving dog."

Currently around 2 pounds, Bader said Samantha will weigh about 6-7 pounds when she's fully grown. 

A look back at the Little Yellow Dogs from 1936 including breed information, who purchased and the price paid at the annual auction.

1936SkippyMongrelHerman Miller$25.00
1937Midget "Mike"MongrelWax Nelson & John Kampmeyer$200.00
1938BruceOscar Hoberg for S.C. Scottish Rite Consistory$250.00
1939ZeroOscar Hoberg for S.C. Scottish Rite Consistory$300.00
1940HappyAbu Bekr Shrine Temple$275.00
1941KitK.A. Murray$250.00
1942VictoryHugh Twohig$310.00
1943PalermoFrank Pilley$337.00
1944PeterG.F. Peceny$375.00
1945CinderellaCharles McKenna$390.00
1946DancerTetonia Club$450.00
1947MistletoeH.R. Scroggs$500.00
1948BlondieElks Club$510.00
1949MemeWally Wilson & Harold Jacobsen$525.00
1950Sir TippetSchaff's Hardware, Remsen, Iowa$565.00
1951Soo Wing WuE.S. Gaynor$575.00
1952V-EightJess Getz$577.50
1953Blue BoyFred K. Harbeck$615.00
1954Siouxland CoquetteSealyham TerrierMiles Patton$650.00
1955DonnabelleC.H. Brechlin$700.00
1956LorrieDachsundRussell Deever$710.00
1957Little JoeR.P. Boulay$725.00
1958PeggyBob Johnson$765.00
1959NickSodrac Park$800.00
1960HappyCarter Dennis$900.00
1961Little BillJerry Kozney$950.00
1962MissyMrs. L.J. Kaplan$1,000.00
1963Little IkeJ.J. Arkin$1,075.00
1964GeorgieDave Levitt$1,130.00
1965MaxieMiniature PoodleBoard of Directors LYD for Mrs. Winifred Perasso$800.00
1966JoeyPoodleVernon Boyers$810.00
1967Wacuwa St. NickBrown and white English SpringerSioux City Grain Exchange$830.00
1968PaddyVizsla PointerUnited Order Buyers Dixon Co. Feedlots$850.00
1969Little MaxieWire haired DachsundMr. & Mrs. Irving Levich$640.00
1970Little YellerFawn Colored ChihuahuaJulian Torgeson$2,310.00
1971ScottieBlack Scottish TerrierJames Gribble$1,650.00
1972KandyCairn TerrierNorthwestern National Bank, Stan Evans$1,410.00
1973PollyShetland SheepdogDavid, Norman & Peter Waitt$1,530.00
1974GoldieYellow LabradorRay E. Friedman$2,520.00
1975GeorgyBoston TerrierVernon Boyers$3,000.00
1976BuckwheatBoston TerrierJim Yanney$3,550.00
1977SandyCocker SpanielRay Grandle (Bill Grabau)$3,500.00
1978Sir NickEnglish Springer SpanielJim Yanney$5,000.00
1979JinglesMiniature SchnauzerAlan Booge & Jim Cuthbert$7,500.00
1980Sir TannenbaumWire haired DachsundAlan Booge, Jim Cuthbert & David Sitzmann$8,000.00
1981KringlesSheltieRay & Todi Switzer$5,200.00
1982JinglesBlack & White CockerAlan Booge$4,400.00
1983Sir NicholasSamoyedLarry Doeschot$5,000.00
1984Sir Lord StoneEnglish BulldogKen Opstein$5,100.00
1985Golden GirlGolden RetrieverBob Hoefer$7,500.00
1986Golden BoyGolden RetrieverWalt E. Beggs$6,700.00
1987Sir VernBuff colored CockerChuck Avery$6,000.00
1988Sir FrankGolden RetrieverFred Wells$5,300.00
1989Elmer's GirlBlack and white CockerPaul Meloy$8,100.00
1990Mink's MagicTri-colored CockerTed & Norm, Jr. Waitt$8,500.00
1991Miss KringelsYellow Chinese Shar-peiJerry and Kathy Weiner$6,700.00
1992NoelBichon Friseharold A. Bomgaars$7,100.00
1993Lady GracieBull TerrierNorm and Andria Waitt$8,600.00
1994Princess ViMiniature SchnauzerFred Wells$6,500.00
1995Miss AmberGolden RetrieverTom Kurdy$8,700.00
1996Doc HolidayGolden RetrieverKevin Vaughn of Fimco$12,750.00
1997Yukon CorneliusGolden RetrieverTed Waitt$15,500.00
1998Mr. GoldenGolden RetrieverRoger Miller$15,600.00
1999FargoGolden RetrieverHirsch/Wooldridge family$9,000.00
2000ChadYellow LabradorBrad Gunderson$10,200.00
2001Miss NoelMalteseMike Wells$18,300.00
2002T-BoneMalteseJim and Jameley Levich$18,500.00
2003SeamanGreat NewfoundlandTodd and Cathy Ellison$11,500.00
2004Colonel HaroldBoston TerrierBob Scott and Duane Davis$20,000.00
2005Little NicholasPoodleTim Brown and D.A. Davis$21,100.00
2006BelleWestieDr. Ralph and Julie Reeder$30,000.00
2007BrubeckGolden RetrieverD.A. Davis, Roger Miller, Leonard Gill, Paul Braunger and Bill Barkley$20,000.00
2008BojiCairn TerrierDave Marx and John Goldsmith$20,000.00
2009Holly BerryYorkshire terrierDan Wells$20,000.00
2010HopeMiniature SchnauzerCharese Yanney$10,000.00
2011StoneyYellow labrador retrieverSioux City Explorers$45,000.00
2012TrufflesAmerican water spanielRhonda Capron$14,500.00
2013SnickersLiver and white springer spanielPatty and Eric Lohry$15,000.00
2014FinneganScottish terrierBrad Smith$15,000.00
2015DasherBeagleDon and Linda Boyer$10,200.00
2017SamanthaMalteseDarlene Erickson$15,000

Michael Flynn's rise was rapid, his fall even faster

WASHINGTON — Michael Flynn was President Donald Trump's favorite general, rapidly vaulted to prominence by his fiery speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention about jailing Hillary Clinton and by Trump's decision to reward him with a plum job as his top national security aide.

Flynn's plunge was even faster. He was fired by Trump after just a month in the White House and left to contend with a mounting criminal probe that led to his decision to plead guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

Flynn, 58, is the first person who served in the Trump White House to be charged in the wide-ranging investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. He also becomes the first former national security adviser to be charged with a felony since the fallout from the Iran-Contra affair of the mid-1980s.

Flynn came to the fore as the stern, hawkish persona of the tough national security image Trump sought to project to the nation and the world during last year's campaign. Trump admired "my generals," as he described the military men he brought into his campaign, and for Flynn, the growing bond with the insurgent GOP candidate was life altering.

Flynn was a familiar presence on the Trump campaign trail, his appearance intended to lend national security gravitas to an election effort short on established names. At campaign events, and at the Republican convention, Flynn led cheers of "Lock her up" about the Democratic candidate and her email practices.

Flynn's vaunted military career as an intelligence specialist had ended in a forced dismissal by senior Obama administration officials. As a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, he had to scramble for opportunities advising cybersecurity companies and starting up his own consulting firm. But Trump's growing admiration provided Flynn with the promise of a pivotal national role and a public forum for his increasingly defiant screeds against "radical Islam" and the Obama administration.

Trump lauded Flynn as an "invaluable asset" in November 2016 as he named him his national security adviser. And even after Trump fired him in February, the president continued to hold Flynn in high esteem, grousing that such a "wonderful man" had been laid low by leaks and pesky media.

Flynn's path to the courtroom can be traced back to two events on the same day — Election Day 2016. That morning, Flynn published an op-ed in The Hill newspaper, trumpeting the talking points of the Turkish government. That evening, Trump won the election, thrusting the retired general known for his attacks on Islam into position for a top national security post.

Within weeks, Flynn had been named national security adviser and the Justice Department had taken an interest in the op-ed as possible evidence of unregistered foreign agent work.

While Flynn's attorneys began the process of determining whether he would need to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Flynn had a phone conversation with the Russian ambassador to the United States that was recorded by the U.S. government and that swiftly caught the attention of the Justice Department.

He was interviewed by FBI agents on Jan. 24 about his communications with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, and about whether they had discussed sanctions imposed on Russia following its election interference.

Days later, then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn had been compromised because of discrepancies between the White House public narrative — that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions — and the reality of what occurred.

White House officials took no immediate action against Flynn, and he was not forced to resign his position until after news reports indicated that he had discussed sanctions and that Justice Department officials had raised concerns.

In the weeks after his firing, Flynn registered retroactively with the Justice Department, disclosing that $530,000 worth of lobbying his company did for a Turkish businessman could have benefited the government of Turkey. Flynn's business partner, former Export-Import Bank board member Bijan Kian, also registered.

In the filings, both men laid out a contract Flynn signed in the final months of the presidential campaign that called for his firm, the Flynn Intel Group, to gather information that could support a criminal case against a Turkish cleric living in the U.S. The cleric, Fethullah Gulen, has been accused of being behind a failed coup last year, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for his extradition. The U.S. has rebuffed those calls for lack of evidence.

But Flynn's retroactive disclosure of the work did not satisfy federal prosecutors. A grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia soon began investigating, and FBI agents began asking questions about how much Flynn and Kian knew about Ekim Alptekin, the Turkish businessman who hired them.

When Mueller was appointed in May, he incorporated that investigation.

The Turkish contract landed by Flynn's consulting firm was the first significant promise of business success since he had left the military. Flynn had won plaudits as a military intelligence officer in combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq and was rewarded in July 2012 with a post as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the military's spy organization.

He lasted two years, criticized by Obama administration officials for his management and temper, and was forced to retire in August 2014. Flynn's post-military career was a succession of consulting gigs and directorships at small defense contractors. He traveled to the Mideast in 2015 to lend credibility to a proposal for a U.S.-Russia private nuclear partnership that has yet to work out.

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Deal reached for former Gateway campus in North Sioux City

NORTH SIOUX CITY | A major real estate investment firm with ties to northeast Nebraska has agreed to purchase the former Gateway campus in North Sioux City.

Keating Resources CEO Gerard Keating said Friday the deal will lead to “significant investment” by some local companies who will purchase portions of the campus, which covers seven acres and more than 750,000 square feet of space. Terms of the deal will be released after the sale's scheduled closing on Jan. 10, he said.

“I’m really excited to build upon the great success that Ted and Norm (Waitt) had in the building, which gave me confidence to make the investment,” Keating said of the Waitt brothers, who built Gateway into one of the nation’s largest makers of personal computers.

“My family has done business in the greater Siouxland market for five generations and I’m excited to invest in the market,” said Keating, who grew up in Atkinson, Nebraska, about a 2 1/2 hour drive from metro Sioux City. “The plan for the property will be a catalyst for growth in North Sioux City.”

Keating said more details will be released upon the closing, including the purchase price paid to Acer Inc., the Taiwan-based computer maker that inherited the North Sioux City campus when it acquired Gateway's consumer division for $710 million in 2007.

At the time of the sale, Acer said it did not want to be a landlord. Instead, the company put the property on the market, with the goal of leasing back the approximate 20,000 square feet of space that houses its servers and a handful of workers that maintain the network.

Realtors listed the campus for $15 million. The value of the land alone has been estimated at between $5 million and $7 million.

Gateway’s former offices and manufacturing and warehouse space were built in the 1990s after the PC maker moved across the Big Sioux River from Sergeant Bluff to North Sioux City. The The exteriors of the five large metal, machine shed-like buildings -- named Main, Mexico, Pacific, Peru and Argentina – were painted black and white to resemble the spots on the Holstein cows featured in Gateway’s quirky ads.

Keating Resources, which has offices in Atkinson, Nebraska and Naples, Florida, specializes in buying large vacant properties throughout the United States and repositioning the parcels for the future, Gerald Keating said.

Since 1996, Keating, individually, and with partners, has purchased over $300 million in real estate in the agriculture, industrial, retail, office, mining, port terminals, and rail terminals, according to the company’s website,

Keating said existing leases in the former Gateway building will be honored. At last report, FIMCO, a North Sioux City-based manufacturer of agricultural equipment, occupies about 144,00 square feet in the former Peru building.

In May, Alorica closed its call center in the Argentina building, eliminating 260 jobs. The Chino, California-based contract services company had leased about 100,000 square feet on the first floor.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misspelled Gerard Keating's first name.