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In brief: Former clerk pleads not guilty

A former Kootenai County deputy clerk accused of embezzling $139,000 from her employer over a 10-year period has pleaded not guilty to a grand theft charge.

Sandy Martinson, 62, entered the plea Monday in 1st District Court.

Her attorney, Frederick Loats, estimated in court documents that a trial would last three days.

Grand theft is punishable by up to 14 years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.

County officials said that when Martinson retired in November, a routine review of records revealed irregularities that led the county to suspect embezzlement.

Due to Martinson’s more than three-decade career with Kootenai County, Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall is handling the case.

Senate OKs cuts in higher ed funds

BOISE – The Idaho Senate voted along party lines Thursday to approve a budget for the state’s colleges and universities for next year that includes further state funding cuts, pushing the schools to rely more on student tuition and fees.

The budget bill, SB 1181, drew fiery debate after minority Democrats spoke out against it; majority Republicans said the cuts are needed to balance the budget.

Sen. Mitch Toryanski, R-Boise, who supported the bill, noted that while state general funds for universities would be cut again, an increase in total funds is anticipated in the budget for next year; that additional money, however, largely is from increased tuition paid by the fast-growing student population.

The bill, which now goes to the House, sets the lowest level of state funding for Idaho colleges and universities since 2000.

American Indian events planned

North Idaho College will host a series of events from April 4 to 8 in honor of American Indian Heritage Week.

The events include storytelling, a dancing exhibition, a tribal history lecture, a silent auction of Native artwork to benefit a scholarship fund, art demonstrations, traditional foods and more.

The week will end with an intertribal show featuring dancers, a comedian, storytelling and singing.

Aside from the show, all of the week’s events are free.

The events are sponsored by the NIC American Indian Student Alliance and the Coeur d’Alene Casino.

For more information, call (208) 769-3365 or visit heritageweekflyer.pdf.