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North Idaho College soccer player comes out


Macoy McLaughlin wrote about his coming out in an open letter posted on OutSports. As many know, coming out seldom happens once, but is rather something that one does repeatedly throughout life. For Macoy, coming out to his family was the first step, which he took in February. While he never doubted that his family loved and accepted him, he still had some trepidation:

“I felt foolish because I knew they loved me. I was their son and there was nothing I could do to change their love for me. Yet the fear of change was holding me back. I don’t adapt well to change, so I was petrified of the possibility that my family, the people I love the most, would change even though I had no reason to think so.”

But Macoy also grew up in central Montana which he says “isn’t the ideal place to be different from others. Full story.

NIC remembers student with poker bike ride Sept. 12

BICYCLING — The fifth annual North Idaho College Brian Williams Memorial Bike Ride (for a prize-winning poker hand)  is set for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, starting at O’Shays Irish Pub and Eatery, 313 Coeur d’Alene Lake Dr.

The poker ride is appropriate for riders of all ages. Live music, barbecue are planned from 4 p.m.-7 p.m.; door prizes and a T-shirt are included in the $25 donation. 

Williams was 28 years old when he was killed in a plane crash in 2010 while flying over Glacier National Park. He participated in NIC Outdoor Pursuits trips and was involved in a variety of outdoor programs offered through the college. Proceeds from the ride and a silent auction will benefit the Brian Williams Memorial Scholarship, which was established to support students studying outdoor leadership at NIC.

Preregister by calling the NIC Outdoors Center, (208) 676-7169.

Rand Paul Visits North Idaho

Rand Paul believes the western U.S. is populated by many independent-minded people who seek to escape big government. It's a place that's fertile territory for Paul's political aspirations. Especially Idaho, a place that's home to his kind of people, he said. More than 500 people turned out Wednesday night at North Idaho College's Schuler Performing Arts Center to see and hear the U.S. senator from Kentucky, Republican presidential candidate and physician. "The tax code is chasing people away," Paul said. "Let's get rid of the whole thing." His idea to replace the IRS tax code - with its more than 70,000 pages of complication - struck a chord with the North Idaho audience. He favors a 14.5 percent flat-rate tax that applies to both individuals and business. He also wants to eliminate every special-interest loophole. Small, limited government is his prescription/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

NIC comes full circle with new aerospace program

During World War II, North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene trained hundreds of pilots, aircraft mechanics and aviation technicians as part of the nation’s war effort. By 1947 NIC had the nation’s only combination watchmaking and aviation instrument repair program, operating at Weeks Field, now the North Idaho Fairgrounds.

But during the Korean War years, the college updated its vocational programs to things like auto mechanics, and closed its extensive aviation offerings.

Now, NIC has come full circle, as it makes the final addition to its Aerospace Center of Excellence, which opened in 2013 with programs focused on manufacturing and testing. Next month, the center kicks off its new aircraft maintenance program certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“They’ve specifically matched what industry has told them that they need,” said Garry Hojan, operations manager at Aerocet in Priest River and president of the Idaho Aerospace Alliance. “It’s right in line with what industry is looking for.”

Students who start the new airframe maintenance program next month and complete three semesters of rigorous instruction will be qualified to sit for FAA airframe mechanic exams in August 2016; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Student rec center to be built at NIC

"It feels really good to accomplish something like this," Totten, the center's advisory board chairman, said on Thursday. "People are buzzing on campus."

The North Idaho College board approved the $7.7 million, 30,000-square-foot center, which will be built where the tennis courts are on the Coeur d'Alene campus. It will be funded by student fees and staff memberships.

Totten said the goal was to have the center open in fall of 2017, but that timeline was based on the board approving the proposal three months ago. The board approved the center on Wednesday night in Sandpoint on a 4-0 vote with Todd Banducci abstaining.

"We're adjusting the timeline (on when to open) now," he said. Read more. Brian Walker, CdA Press


College financial aid director arrested in online sex scheme

In a bizarre bit of news from up north, the financial aid director at North Idaho College has been arrested and charged with soliciting sexual favors on Craigslist in return for student financial aid grants. Joseph Bekken was arrested today on five felony charges, including attempted misuse of public funds, attempted procurement of prostitution, burglary, using a computer in a scheme to defraud, and bribery. The arrest was the result of a joint investigation by the Coeur d’Alene Police, the FBI, NIC and the Kootenai County prosecutor’s office.

NIC officials said Bekken was fired Feb. 2 and the college is cooperating fully with law enforcement in the ongoing investigation. “The individual charged in this case is no longer an employee of the college and has not been since the issue first came to light,” NIC President Joe Dunlap said in a statement. “North Idaho College has worked alongside law enforcement from the very beginning of the investigation. I am grateful for the knowledge and training of our staff, which resulted in a swift and decisive response to this incident.”

Don Soltman, North Idaho member on the state Board of Education, who was in Boise for a board meeting today and tomorrow, said, “I’m just shocked. … This is very much an anomaly, and I just don’t know what to say.” He noted that the Coeur d’Alene community college has an excellent reputation. “Everything has been so positive,” he said.

State board spokesman Blake Youde said, "Obviously this is a very serious allegation. … It's a police matter at this point - they are clearly taking action." Bekken was hired in 2010; he previously was a college financial aid counselor in Arizona. You can read our full story here at spokesman.com.

NIC Trustees: No new taxes

COEUR d'ALENE - The North Idaho College Board of Trustees decided Tuesday on how to finance a new $15 million Career Technical Education facility without raising taxes.

After reviewing several potential options, the trustees decided to use $11.5 million of its capital reserve funding, $2.5 of the college's operating reserves and possibly another $1 million in revenue anticipation bonds at the end of construction.

"I think it is important that we send a pretty clear message through the news media that this is what this money was reserved for. This is what it's going to be spent for and there is no tax increase," said Trustee Ron Nilson.

"We've done our fiduciary responsibility, which was to manage this account the way it was supposed to be managed," he continued. "We don't want any misunderstanding that this is going to cost taxpayers money. This is exactly what this money was proposed for."

Most of the trustees were concerned about tapping too deeply into the college's reserve funds while they are also looking to partner with University of Idaho and Lewis-Clark State College on a joint-use facility in the education corridor. Jeff Selle, Cda Press Full story.

What do you think of the trustees decision?

NIC News: Tuition up & a new BB coach

COEUR d'ALENE - North Idaho College trustees decided Wednesday to balance the college's budget for the next fiscal year by increasing tuition rather than levying more property taxes.

The trustees accepted the college administration's proposal to fill a budget shortfall of $352,182 for fiscal year 2015 by raising tuition by $2 per credit for Kootenai County students and $6 per credit for out-of-district students. Local students taking 12 credits will now pay $1,511 per semester, a 1.6 percent increase.

"We are still one of the lowest-cost colleges in the region, and in the state," said NIC Controller Sarah Garcia, who presented the administration's budget recommendation to trustees. Maureen Dolan, CdA Press
  • The North Idaho College Athletics Department announced that Corey Symons has been named the head men’s basketball coach at North Idaho College. Symons replaces Jared Phay, who accepted the head coaching position at the College of Southern Idaho earlier this month. Symons has been the team’s assistant coach for 10 years and interim head coach since Phay’s departure. NIC Newsroom

NIC Trustees Vote For League Switch

They're going regional. North Idaho College trustees decided Thursday that for all sports except wrestling, the college will part ways with the National Junior College Athletics Association and realign itself with the Northwest Athletics Association of Community Colleges. The five-member board voted 3-1 in favor of moving forward with the conference change. Christie Wood cast the dissenting vote and Todd Banducci was present, but abstained. "I believe the process is severely flawed," Wood said, during a discussion before the vote. President Joe Dunlap and Athletics Director Al Williams recommended to the board on Feb. 26 that the conference change was the best way the college could address a pending budget shortfall of $2.3 million/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Don Sausser (last night): I just left an NIC Trustees meeting that voted to demote athletics from the National Champion chasing NJCAA to the wanna bees NWAACC, a conference mostly consisting of Oregon and Washington. This action was disguised as a budget crisis but results from a new president flexing his Spokane CC roots to bring NIC down to their level. NIC's once proud tradition of athletic excellence has come to an end. Sad.

Question: What do you make of Trustee Wood's comment that the process in reaching this decision was "severely flawed"?

NIC Enrollment Drop Means Less $$$

North Idaho College’s declining enrollment is getting a lot of attention lately, and it will continue to as administrators and trustees seek to cut $2.3 million from next year’s budget. Enrollment declined by 11 percent this year and is expected to drop another 10 percent next year, and with fewer students come less tuition dollars, a source of revenue that represents more than a third of NIC’s current $44.8 million budget. NIC President Joe Dunlap and Athletics Director Al Williams pointed to the enrollment drop when they recently recommended that the college switch from a national athletics conference to a less costly regional community college sports association. The trustees will meet Thursday to decide whether to follow that recommendation, a move expected to chop an estimated $600,000 per year from the college budget. Department heads at the college are preparing their initial budget presentations now, said NIC spokesman Mark Browning/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Have you or a member of your family been served by North Idaho College?

NIC Trustees Seek To Define Tenure

The tenure process at North Idaho College underwent intense scrutiny Tuesday during a special meeting of the college's board of trustees. During the nearly two-hour workshop, the trustees heard from speakers they invited, including members of the community, the faculty and the college's administration. "I know this workshop that we planned has created a great deal of concern amongst the faculty, and that's quite understandable, quite frankly," said board chair Ken Howard, before the meeting's conclusion. "This was an opportunity for this institution to tell the world what tenure is at NIC, not what they think it is someplace else or what they were told it was or what they imagined it might be, but what it is here at NIC," Howard said/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Gabe Green's Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Chairman Ken Howard introduces a speaker during a open forum workshop at North Idaho College)

  • DFO: Did Trustee Todd Banducci behave himself?

Question: How would you define "tenure"?

Sgt. Wood Explains Hearing Role

Sgt. Christie Wood (RE: Council 4-2 against guns-on-campus, bias bills): Yesterday I was called to speak to the Mayor and Council as an employee of the Police Department. I am the Law Enforcement liaison to the legislative committee that advises the Mayor and Council on pending legislation that could have potential impact on the City of CDA. I presented the views of the Chief of Police who does not support the guns on campus bill in its current form. As a practice when testifying before Mayor and Council our officers are in uniform as a show of respect. During the workshop I was asked by Councilman Gookin to provide my insight as a NIC Trustee. I shared with him the views of the Majority of the Board. The bottom line is everyone is having productive conversation about how to keep our campus safe. The NIC Trustees are exploring ideas and possible changes to our weapons policy. We hope to keep our policy decisions at a local level where we can best assess the safety practices of our campus. Full comment here.

Question: Do you have any problems with Sgt. Christie Wood being involved in the community, for a long time, as a Coeur d'Alene School Board member (past) and now as an NIC trustee and chairman of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations?

NIC Student Caught w/Gun, 75 Roundsun

 While Idaho lawmakers mull a bill to loosen gun bans on college campuses, a student was arrested today at North Idaho College for carrying a concealed handgun in a classroom. Another student told authorities the man was upset and using drugs, had purchased 75 hollow point rounds for the revolver, and had talked about not being afraid to die. Michael Rustin Dan, 34, of Rathdrum was taken into custody without incident shortly after 9 a.m. Coeur d’Alene Police charged Dan with unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon and possession of drug paraphernalia commonly used for methamphetamine. The man did not threaten employees or students, an NIC spokesman said. Campus security was notified that Dan was carrying a gun on campus in violation of college policy. Another student said he saw Dan in class last Thursday with the revolver holstered under his coat/Scott Maben, SR. More here. (SR file photo)


Fort Sherman Park To Be Cheamkwet

The name "Fort Sherman Park" will ride off into the sunset during the 80th anniversary celebration of North Idaho College, scheduled from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday. The name will be replaced by the Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe word for "headquarters": Cheamkwet (Ch pronounced as in choo-choo and small "e" as in "Chem-kwet" … I think). Along with renaming the park (which serves as host site for Art on the Green), NIC will dedicate the historic Fort Sherman Powder Magazone and the NIC Veterans Memorial. You can read all about it below.

Question: Do you support the Fort Sherman Park name change?

NIC Shooting At Wrong Target

Backed by a majority of citizens serving on an ad-hoc committee, North Idaho College is prepared to ask its board of trustees to hire a consultant who could help chart a course for a proposed event center. Take a deep breath and look again at that long, awkward, nebulous sentence. It's an accurate reflection of the long, awkward, nebulous process that has brought us to this point in debating the merits and means of building a $15 million to $20 million event center in Coeur d'Alene. Problem is, we're debating the merits and means of the wrong thing. While an event center is a captivating topic, it isn't North Idaho College's highest capital priority/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Does the event center have too much opposition to move ahead?

Panel: Hire Pro For Event Center Plan

Item: Another step for event center: Committee: NIC should hire professional to iron out project details/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press

More Info: The ad hoc committee charged with exploring the feasibility of building a multi-million dollar event center in Coeur d'Alene for North Idaho College is recommending the college move forward on the project. The 17-member volunteer committee isn't recommending NIC build the arena quite yet, however. It's just saying enough merit is there for the college to hire a professional to hammer out the final details on what the potential project could look like.

Question: Do you support this recommendation by the ad hoc committee to hire a professional to hammer out details re: the proposed events center?

Parker Toyota Eyes Event Center Buy

One local businessman and sports fan is trying to buy a hunk of land that he would donate to North Idaho College for a proposed event center. Doug Parker, owner of Parker Toyota, said he has made an offer to Washington Trust Bank to purchase roughly 22 acres in west Riverstone so the college would have cost-free land for a proposed sport and event facility. "We're negotiating as we speak," Parker told The Press this week, saying his offer began in "the 3 million dollar range." It's "not concrete yet. We have actually made a couple of written offers and had them rejected, (but) we still have the potential of putting something together." The land is in the process of being annexed into the city. It sits off Seltice Way, east of the U.S. Bank Call Center. About 7 acres of it sits on the bank of the Spokane River/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Gabe Green CdA Press photo: A dirt biker rides through a parcel of land off of Seltice Way in the West Riverstone area which Doug Parker, owner of Parker Toyota may be purchasing)

Question: If Doug Parker provided $3M-plus gift to North Idaho College for future event center at Riverstone, would you be more inclined to support the project?

Press: Deep Six Event Center

If Coeur d'Alene is ever going to have an event center, the time isn't now and Riverstone certainly isn't the place. This week, the city's urban renewal agency, Lake City Development Corp., agreed to fund $10 million toward construction of a multi-purpose event center at Riverstone if North Idaho College, the primary beneficiary of the center, can raise an additional $5 million for the project. We're stunned that NIC would step so far outside its educational mission as a community college - and beyond the 17-acre corridor it purchased five years ago at a cost of $10 million - to prioritize this ill-conceived project and push it into hyperdrive. And we're disappointed that LCDC, perhaps in political panic mode, would even consider committing almost every future penny it could generate in the River District to such a risky venture/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Are you surprised that the Coeur d'Alene Press is so opposed to North Idaho College involvement in the proposed events center?

Event Center Challenge: Raise $5M

To build an event center in Riverstone, North Idaho College will have to break its fundraising record. The college's president thinks it can. Not only that, but he thinks NIC could secure the $5 million total in about a year. "I'm absolutely confident we can raise that," NIC President Joe Dunlap told The Press Thursday. "I do have some commitments. I can't tell you who from or for how much, but we do have some commitments." The $5 million would go to operational costs to run a multi-use event center in Riverstone off Seltice Way. On Wednesday, the city's urban renewal agency, Lake City Development Corp., agreed to fund $10 million to help build the arena. But before the college can capitalize on LCDC's pledge, it would have to raise and spend $5 million on the project first - a college record/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (SR file photo: Joe Dunlap)

Question: Do you think North Idaho College can raise $5M in private donations to match $10 from urban renewal, to build an Events Center?

NIC default rate exceeds graduation

COEUR d'ALENE - A new report shows that North Idaho College is among 265 higher education institutions nationwide with student loan default rates that exceed the schools' graduation rates. For fiscal year 2010, the national student loan default rate is 13.4 percent. The loan default rate at NIC for the same period is 19.6 percent. NIC's graduation rate, according to the report, is 19 percent.

College representatives say the recent years' economic downturn is to blame for the lower graduation rate, and say they are taking measures to reduce the loan default rate.

Graydon Stanley, the college's vice president of student services, said he expects that NIC won't remain on the list of schools noted in the report for long. Full story. Cda Press

 Did you take out student loans? How long did it take you to pay them back? 

The Dorm At NIC

Silent and empty,
with no one about;
somber and dark since
the students moved out.

The Bard of Sherman Avenue

NIC Graduates Record Number

A record number of graduates participated in commencement ceremonies at North Idaho College today. About 400 to 500 students participated in the graduation ceremonies. Some 1,100 were eligible to do so. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

DFO: I'll be attending one graduation this summer — that of Amy Dearest, who will be receiving a master's degree in family counseling from Portland State. How about you?

Question: How many — and what kind — of graduations will you attend this summer?

NIC Debates Tech Ed Location

Item: The right site: NIC continues forums on where to build professional technical program facility/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press

More Info: About 80 people from all walks of life attended North Idaho College's three-part forum on the expansion of its professional technical education program. Mark Browning, vice president of community relations and marketing, moderated the event and set the stage for what essentially became a community dialogue over the importance of where the facility is located, and how that will impact the students of those programs. Browning said the NIC Board of Trustees will eventually have to make a decision based primarily of the size of the facility, where it will be located and the skills that will be taught there.

Question: Where should North Idaho College locate an expanded professional education program — on the current campus in Coeur d'Alene or on the Rathdrum Prairie near the new KTEC?

PM (4.29.13): Chess Anyone?

North Idaho College student Georgia Eto, of Coeur d’Alene, dressed up as a mime and played chess at one of the two newly installed concrete chess tables in front of the Edminster Student Union Building Monday. Eto and other mimes/students filled the chess seats to demonstrate their use as Gustave Lester, a member of NIC’s student government, opened the tables at a dedication ceremony. The chess tables were Lester’s student government project. (NIC Press Room photo: Tom Greene)

Question: Do you play chess? Well?

NIC Seeks Event Center Funding

Now is the time to build an event center in Coeur d’Alene for sports, trade shows and community gatherings, North Idaho College officials told the city’s urban renewal agency Thursday. NIC, which would own and operate the building, anticipates asking for $10 million in urban renewal financing for the project, President Joe Dunlap said. Another $5 million would come from private fundraising, and the college would need an estimated $250,000 a year initially to cover operating expenses, Dunlap told the Lake City Development Corporation board. While enthusiastic about the potential for a sports and event center, NIC doesn’t have the money to make it a reality, emphasized Dunlap and Ken Howard, president of the college board of trustees/Scott Maben, SR. More here.

Question: Would you like to see an event center that's largely funded by urban renewal money?

NIC’s Wood Calls Foul On Meeting

Item: Trustee Christie Wood calls foul on NIC meeting/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene

More Info:  A North Idaho College trustee is questioning the legality of a board meeting held earlier this month, and is calling for a motion passed as a result of that meeting to be rescinded. Christie Wood has asked that the board members, when they meet next week, consider canceling the motion made by Ron Nilson and seconded by Todd Banducci. The item is on the agenda for the board's regular monthly meeting on Wednesday. "We often talk about being open and transparent and this was non-transparent," Wood said. "There was no opportunity for the board to have input.

Question: Do you agree with the concerns raised by Trustee Wood?

My 2 Cents: Gookin, Nilson Lead Way

Gotta give a H/T to Councilman Dan Gookin and NIC Trustee Ron Nilson for their enthusiastic reaction to a possible events center being built at Riverstone. During a joint meeting of the City Council and NIC trustee board, Gookin and Nilson said — on "Woody TV" Channel 19 — that an events center would benefit the community as well as the college. Also, both said that the proposed events center should be built large enough to handle events like state high school football championships that are now being lost to Moscow and Pocatello, which have domed stadiums. Gookin was optimistic that voters would pass a bond (that could be floated after creation of a Recreation District) for an events center if they were informed properly re: the benefits. Nilson, who was instrumental in the passage of the bonds to build KTEC in Rathdrum, agreed. However, both balked when the specter of the Lake City Development Corp. was raised to provide some funding. All at the meeting agreed that NIC athletic/events facilities are outdated. Christiansen Gym was built in 1944. A good example of the restrictions caused by poor facilities is the 2014 national NJCAA wrestling tournament that NIC will host — in Spokane/DFO.

Question: I support the idea of a $12M-$15M events center that would attract events here. Also, I think the support of Gookin and Nilson is important for this idea to find traction. What do you think?

NIC’s reliance on Kootenai County property taxes draws questions

Lawmakers brought up a longtime sore spot during North Idaho College’s budget hearing at the state Legislature this morning: Why does the Coeur d’Alene community college get so much of its funding from property tax, compared to the state's other two community colleges, and why do only Kootenai County residents pay that tax, when NIC serves all five of the North Idaho Panhandle counties? Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint – who is from Bonner County - said, “That’s been an ongoing question from Kootenai County legislators for a long time.”

The College of Western Idaho charges property taxes in Ada and Canyon counties, but its service area also includes all or part of eight other counties. The College of Southern Idaho gets property taxes from Twin Falls and Jerome counties, but also serves all or part of eight others. NIC President Joe Dunlap said the 1982 formula that distributes liquor tax funds from the non-property tax counties to community colleges based on enrollment from those counties' residents is due for an update; the state’s community colleges are working with the Idaho Association of Counties on possible changes. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Vieselmeyer Slams Campaign Lies

In a letter to the Coeur d'Alene Press editor, Ron Vieselmeyer, a former Republican legislator who is retiring from the North Idaho College Board of Trustees, decries false information circulated by Reagan Republican trustee candidates:

"What bothers me the most about the deceptive campaign literature some of it was distributed by people that I agree with philosophically and politically. Since I was not a candidate for an elected office, most of the deception did not affect me personally. However, I am offended by the NIC Board of Trustees candidates who accuse the present board of outrageous tax increases and wasteful spending. It is amazing how you can separate figures from the larger picture of the various sources of revenue and expenditures regarding North Idaho College." Full letter here.

Question: Is it allright to claim anything during a political campaign, as long as your candidate gets elected?

Mary Describes ‘Awkward Statement’

In her latest newsletter, Mary Souza claims North Idaho College Trustee Mic Armon was trying to trade on her name by mention at a luncheon that he used to be her neighbor:

"NIC Trustee Mic Armon, who is running for re-election, showed up last Thursday for his first time at the Republican Women’s lunch meeting. When he was given 2 minutes to speak, he tried to assure the audience that he really is a Republican, and then he added a very awkward statement:  Mic told the crowd, as he gestured to where I was sitting, “I was Mary Souza’s next door neighbor for many years.” While it is true that we were neighbors and we can have a cordial conversation about our kids, I do not support Mic's election.  Mic's comment seemed opportunistic; a way for him to use me to influence people in the room.  He must be worried." More here.