Amidst the recent controversy involving the Miss America program, a Northern star shines bright for that organization.

We speak of Roxana Saberi, a 1997 Miss North Dakota who was crowned right here in Williston.

This talented young lady, an author and award-winning international journalist, will be joining CBS News as a London-based correspondent.

Reportedly she will be in position to report and deliver news for all of the CBS News platforms.

No stranger to the camera, she has become a familiar face throughout the country over the past two years with her work as a freelance correspondent for CBS News and Newspath, a news affiliate service.

During this time she has also worked as a fill-in anchor on CBSN, CBS News' 24/7 digital streaming news network.

This experience alone only adds to her wealth of reporting experience that she can lend to her new position.

In looking back over her time in the Miss North Dakota Scholarship Pageant, we recall the night when she finished among the Top Ten.

That left her in some pretty good company, joining Donna Grotberg Guitterez in 1976 and Tina Curran in 1988.

But wait, you can add to that group the reigning Miss America Cara Mund as being the only North Dakota entries to ever make the Top Ten.

Thanks to some help from Marilyn McGinley, we can tell you Saberi "received the first Miss America Scholar Award."

That particular award was based on academic excellence, talent and involvement.

Saberi certainly fits in the academic excellence role, having graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, while earning two master's degrees.

One is in journalism from Northwestern University and, as a Rotary Scholar, the second master's degree is from Cambridge in England.



"Her television career life has taken her from Fargo to Houston, to Iran, to New York and now to London as a CBS correspondent," added McGinley.

Over the years Saberi has managed to spend some time back in Williston.

Before hooking up with CBS, Saberi worked as a correspondent for Al Jazeera American, reporting on breaking news, while doing investigative stories in the U.S. and abroad.

Her travels took her to report on child labor and Muslim-Buddhist tensions in Myanmar, while in Japan she gave accounts on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima.



Her early career has provided some interesting moments, spending six years living and reporting from Iran.

Being fluent in Persian, this put her in a good position to cover politics, foreign policy, along with a number of topics.

Working with a number of organizations, she also spent time freelancing as the BBC's correspondent and filed ABC radio reports.

However, in 2009 while writing a book about Iran, she was arrested and charged with spying for the CIA.

That led to her being held for 100 days in Tehran's Evin Prison, leading to folks across the country pleading for her release.



After the ordeal and the campaign for her release that touched back home in Williston, it was time to write a book about her experiences.

Thus she penned Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran.

That led to a major book tour, including a stop back in Williston at Books on Broadway.

Reports indicated along the way she continued to report about Iran and the Middle East.

Her resume also shows having covered Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban, along with Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Her reporting has led to many awards, including the Medill Medal of Courage, the IIaria Alpi Freedom of the Press Award, and the NCAA Award of Valor.



From the television front she began early on as a reporter for KVLY, the NBC affiliate in her hometown of Fargo.

Following that she spent time reporting for News 24, adding to her skills, in Houston, Texas.

While born in New Jersey, she was raised in North Dakota, graduating Summa Cum Laude from Concordia with degrees in communications and French.

Over the years, having been involved with the local pageant, we can tell you Saberi is a top-shelf individual.

She, like many of the former contestants, still think of Williston as home, thanks to the hard work of McGinley and many others.

We send out a Scope Salute to Saberi on this assignment and you can bet this is only the beginning of things to come.

Hopefully a report from London will be featured on the CBS Evening News in the not-too-distant future.



Plans are in the works for the 7th annual Donn Skadeland Night set for Williston High School on Jan. 23.

This scholarship and tribute night will take place during the WHS Coyote girls and boys varsity basketball games scheduled against Minot.

You should know the main focus of the night is to honor the memory of Donn Skadeland, along with the awarding of a $500 scholarship to the WHS Player of the Game, in both the girls and boys contests.

Skadeland, a standout former Coyote basketball player and member of a state championship team, passed away in 2011.

WHS, the Skadeland family, and American State Bank & Trust Company of Williston hosted the initial Donn Skadeland Tribute Night and Scholarships back in 2012.



In a joint statement, WHS Principal Jason Germundson and ASB&T Chairman of the Board Pat Sogard said, "this is our way of honoring Donn, who was an outstanding student athlete in his years at WHS and who remained a loyal supporter of WHS student athletes throughout his lifetime. We are proud to partner with his family and the Coyote Foundation to celebrate his life and his love of sports."

Sogard added, "ASB&T is deeply honored to help with this event as Donn was a member of its Board of Directors for many years."

Skadeland’s wife, Jan, noted, "this is a wonderful memorial for Donn as he still considered himself a Williston Coyote and had fond memories of the WHS basketball teams he played on, including the 1975 state championship team."

The scholarship has been funded by the Skadeland family and ASB&T, and will be distributed by the Coyote Foundation.



With the Minnesota Vikings knocking on the door, seeking the NFC Championship, a lot of folks in this part of the country are on board.

We know of many fans who make their way from Williston and surrounding area to cheer on the Vikings in Minneapolis.

After last weekend's "Minnesota Miracle," the Vikings now tangle with the Philadelphia Eagles who are minus the talents of Carson Wentz.

No doubt a few folks who would have been cheering for Wentz have switched back to throw their support to the Vikings.

That support just could be the key to thrust the Vikings into the Super Bowl that is being contested on their home turf.

With nearly 60 years closing in on Vikings history, the time is now to add a Super Bowl ring to the mix.



While we have just gotten out of a major cold snap and forecast for another snowstorm being talked about, one can only look ahead to events such as the Spring Wheat Show and the time leading up to the Williston Sports and Recreation Show.

Hey, we're looking forward to the opening of spring training for major league baseball.

But, before all that, we want to tell you tryouts for the famed Medora Musical serve as a reminder of what lies ahead.

Yes folks, the Theodore Reoosevelt Medora Foundation and StageWest Entertainment has announced tryouts set to begin this weekend.

Interested parties can try out for the Burning Hills Singers and Coal Diggers Band.

The first tryout of the new season is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Lynne Center, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bismarck.



That will be followed at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Moorhead, Minnesota, at the Buxton Choral Rehearsal Hall within the Hvidsten Hall of Music at Concordia College.

Then on Monday at 7 p.m., tryouts will be held at North Garden Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The final auditions are planned for Feb. 2-5 at the Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, Tennessee.

Auditionees here must be registered with United Professional Theatre Auditions (UPTA).

The professional cast for the musical hails from across the nation, with a number of talented cast members often coming from North Dakota.

We know for a fact Williston's own Matt Olson served as a Burning Hills singer.

Officials indicate each year more than 1,000 performers audition for the show.

For any pre-audition info you can contact Justin Fisk at 701-340-3183.

Curt Wollan returns as producer with rehearsals to begin May 3 in Medora, while the opening night is June 1.

We'll see you in Medora!


Thomas A. Kvamme is a former resident and long time sports editor and columnist for the Herald. He can be reached at


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