Latest from The Spokesman-Review
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?
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. 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?
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)
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
Silent and empty,
with no one about;
somber and dark since
the students moved out.
The Bard of Sherman Avenue
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?
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?
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)
- Outdoors: A boy's first fish (slide show)/Rich Landers, SR
- Editorial: Help North Idaho College make best decisions/Press
- 23-time convicted felon arrested after wrong-way I-90 chase/SR
- US troops in Syria? Sen. Risch says it would be a hard sell/KTVB
- Joseph Duncan attorney Clarke to defend Boston bomb suspect/KXLY
- Iranians put Boise pastor in solitary confinement/Katy Moeller, Statesman
- Outdoors: Bassmaster ranks Lake Coeur d'Alene No. 11/Rich Landers, SR
- Crashes provide sad launch to Motorcycle Safety Month/Betsy Russell, EOB
- Community garden, garden building added to Post Falls/Jeff Selle, CdA Press
Question: Do you play chess? Well?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
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.
All three Reagan Republican candidates attempting to take over the North Idaho College Board of Trustees were parroting the party line that NIC taxes have soared over the past five years. They never mentioned, of course, that enrollment has soared during that time and that the current board of trustees had the foresight to purchase adjacent land for further expansion. Two flyers hit my mailbox this weekend. One touting Paul Matthews and Todd Banducci, the other, their sidekick in the takeover attempt, Ron Nilson. In the Matthews-Banducci flyer, the challengers made the claim that NIC taxes have gone up a whopping 73 percent. And this: “If divided by the population of Kootenai County, it means almost $600 in new property taxes for every family of four.” Which leads me to believe that someone's telling a whopper here. My NIC taxes have gone up a grand total of $15 in five years.
The amount of campaign cash flowing into the North Idaho College Board of Trustee election races is up to $31,882. That's the total amount of contributions reported by 10 candidates involved in the races for three seats up for grabs on the community college's governing board. The deadline for candidates to file their seven-day, pre-election campaign finance reports was 5 p.m. Tuesday. This election is the first time community college trustees have had to disclose their campaign spending/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Is this too much money to spend on nonpartisan races for jobs that don't pay anything?
Incumbent Judy Meyer outraised challenger Paul Matthews in one North Idaho College trustee race and incumbent Mic Armon and challenger Paul Matthews were fairly even in the fund-raising in another race, according to the seven-day, pre-election campaign finance reports. Meyer (report here) has raised $6,356 to defend her seat on the NIC board, while challenger Matthews (report here) has raised $3987. In the second race involving an incumbent, challenger Todd Banducci (report here) has raised $5329, while incumbent Mic Armon (report here) has raised $5007. Matthews and Banducci are also aided by the considerable fund-raising of the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans, who have spent $30,402 so far this year to support a slate of candidates at county, legislative and nonpartisan levels.
- Also: As reported Tuesday, Ron Nilson, owner of Ground Force, has raised $12,500, including a personal loan of $4539, in his six-way race for an open NIC trustee seat. Former legislator Dean Haagenson, his chief competition, still hasn't turned in his finance report. You can read the breakdown of Nilson's report and 4 others turned in here.
- Also: Dean Haagenson, a candidate for the open seat, has turned in his finance report, showing he raised $1325, including $750 of his own money. You can see it here.
Question: Find anything of interest in the financial statements?
In his race for the open Trustee Seat C on the North Idaho College Board of Trustees, Ron Nilson of Ground Force has raised $8001 an loaned himself $4539. Nilson filed his 7-day, pre-election campaign finance report with the county clerk's office ahead of today's 5 o'clock deadline. In the latest reporting period, Nilson raised $1950, including $500 donations from Greg Gervais and David Bobbit. To date, Nilson has spent $6787. Nilson spent $1805 with Reagan Republican president Ron Lahr's Strategery Group during this reporting period. The Coeur d'Alene Tribe donated $1000 to Nilson during the last reporting period. You can read his latest campaign finance statement here and here. Dean Haageson, who is also running for the seat being vacated by Trustee Ron Vieselmeyer, hasn't turned in his campaign finance statement yet. Others in the race who have turned in their reports include: Vickie Ambrosetti here, Gary Coffman here, James Ruch here, and Fritz Widenhoff here.
DFO: Incumbents Judy Meyer and Mic Armon have turned in their reports. But there opponents haven't. I'll post those reports here when they're all in.
North Idaho College Trustee Mic Armon (pictured): When i received the invitation to the ASNIC forum, in the body of the invitation it stated that the questions were attached. On my email there was not an attachment, so I emailed the sender and requested that the questions be sent. A few minutes later I received a second email with the questions attached. The email was addressed from Duncan Menzies, ASNIC Senator, dated 10/17/2012 @ 1:18pm and sent to all of the candidates that had responded that they would attend. When I arrived on Tuesday evening for the forum, we were handed a list of approx. 9 questions, some of which were on the original email and some that were new to all of us. We were instructed to choose 4 questions each to be asked during the first portion of the program. There was not any special treatment for any of the candidates, we were all treated the exact same. I believe that Mary owes the ASNIC students an apology for insinuating that they were anything but fair.
A question about partisanship is the one that most clearly divided North Idaho College trustee candidates participating in Tuesday's forum held on the college's downtown campus. Eight contenders running for three seats on the college's board of trustees squared off Tuesday during a forum held on campus and hosted by the Associated Students of North Idaho College, NIC's student government organization. A written question, one of several fielded from audience members, asked the candidates if they felt the nonpartisan nature of community college trustee elections is important. It also asked those who have chosen to run from a partisan position to explain why/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (NIC Trustee Judy Meyer gives a thumbs up during candidates' forum Tuesday night)
Question: Challenger Todd Banducci has missed both forums for North Idaho College trustee. He's running against incumbent Mic Armon. Does he deserve your vote?
Ron Nilson said he's running for a seat on the North Idaho College Board of Trustees because the community's future leaders are its children, and their success relies on the quality of the education they receive and how well they are taught to maximize the use of their skills as they move forward. Nilson, 60, is running for election to Seat C on the NIC board. Ron Vieselmeyer, who currently holds that position, is not seeking re-election. “I support Joe Dunlap, the new president of NIC, and his efforts, and I am committed to working with him to build a bridge between the private sector and the college,” Nilson said. A Coeur d'Alene resident, Nilson is president and CEO of Ground Force Worldwide, a Post Falls-based multinational company that manufacturers mining equipment. He has lived in Kootenai County for 12 years/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Other Press trustee profiles
- Banducci seeks NIC trustee seat B
- Matthews seeks NIC trustee seat A
- Meyer seeks another term as NIC trustee
- Armon seeks another term as NIC
- Coffman seeks NIC trustee seat C
- Haagenson seeks NIC board seat
Question: Do you think Nilson will play well together with other NIC trustees, if he is elected but other two challengers on his Reagan Republican ticket aren't?
Coeur d’Alene Press interview with Reagan Republican candidate Paul Matthews offers his stand on an important issue:
“He said the college is spending too much on remedial education — non-credit course work required by students lacking the skills to take college-level classes. This is another indication, he said, of clear direction missing at NIC. ‘The governor’s workforce training initiative calls for Idaho to cut remedial education in half, and yet, our capital improvement plan calls for NIC to become a remedial education center,’ Matthews said.” More here.
Question: Do you think remedial education is an important educational function provided at North Idaho College?
NIC Trustee Mic Armon: Being that I am one of the so named “current board” that is supposedly endorsed by the local Democratic Party, I will respond to those concerns. First, at last week’s Democratic candidate forum which Judy Meyer, Gary Coffman, Dean Haagenson, Fritz Wiedenhoff & I all attended, they announced there that they would not be endorsing any candidates for the NIC Trustee position. Second, this is a non-partisan race, so it should not be about either party. I am running to represent all of the citizens of Kootenai County, not just 1 party. Third, I have worked on a number of political campaigns over the years for individuals running as Republicans and have been a Republican my entire life, but in this race I am running as a candidate under neither parties banner. Lastly, I have had numerous conversations with citizens that are from both sides of the political spectrum and they are supporting me for my experience and vision to keep moving North Idaho College forward, not because of a party affiliation.