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North Idaho College moves search forward for new trustee: Here’s who applied

The entrance of North Idaho College is photographed on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. The college will not be put on probation, but has come under a warning from its accredidation commission to fix problems at the governance level.   (kathy plonka)
The entrance of North Idaho College is photographed on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. The college will not be put on probation, but has come under a warning from its accredidation commission to fix problems at the governance level.  (kathy plonka)

The North Idaho College Board of Trustees will have a vacant seat until at least March as trustees work to select one of 11 applicants for the opening.

Trustees met Wednesday in a special meeting to discuss how they will replace Michael Barnes, who resigned earlier this year in light of concerns about his eligibility to serve based on his residency.

By the end of this week, applicants will receive additional questions from the board, with responses due by March 2. Each trustee will prepare one question, for a total of four.

The board has scheduled another special meeting for 6 p.m. March 8 to evaluate the applicants, with interest among the board in whittling the group to a shortlist of finalists for interviews.

The board’s regular meeting next month is scheduled for March 23, although it’s unclear whether the group will fill the vacancy by then.

“I hate to see this get stalled out, but we’ve got four trustees who have shown a history of not agreeing on very much – two and two – and I don’t want this to get stalled out in terms of trying to find a fifth trustee,” said Trustee Ken Howard. “We desperately need a fifth trustee.”

Concerns with Howard’s residency, which emerged around the time doubts were cast over Barnes’ eligibility, were resolved earlier this month following an investigation by board counsel Marc Lyons.

Lyons made the determination in Howard’s favor, given that Howard has a Bayview address, is registered to vote through that address, has an Idaho driver’s license, files taxes using his Bayview address, has vehicles that are all licensed in Idaho and has an Idaho law license.

Eager to avoid more residency issues with Barnes’ replacement, the college explicitly called for applicants who reside in the Zone 5 board district. North Idaho College provided information about its applicants to The Spokesman-Review in response to a public records request.

Here is the list of candidates for the seat:

Harry Amend

Harry Amend served as a superintendent for three different school districts over nearly two decades: the Freeman School District, Coeur d’Alene School District and Kalispell Public Schools in Montana.

In his letter to the Board of Trustees, Amend said he worked closely with leaders at the Lakeland and Post Falls school districts, as well as those at North Idaho College, toward improving areas such as academic offerings and student services.

His professional credits include 18 years at Central Valley High School as a teacher, counselor and baseball coach. He also once served as a professional scout for the Philadelphia Phillies and, in 2017, was the acting principal at Freeman High School.

Amend said his previous experience would serve him well as a trustee, describing the Freeman, Coeur d’Alene and Kalispell communities as “among the most politically conservative on our planet.”

“I understand how to navigate and help get things accomplished in these settings,” he wrote.

Nina Beesley

A mother of five, including three college-aged children, Nina Beesley has a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies (elementary education) from California State University, Chico, according to her letter to the Board of Trustees.

Beesley, who took classes after graduating to complete the prerequisites for nursing, previously taught childbirth prep classes for seven years and worked as a volunteer doula in labor and delivery at Sutter Davis Hospital for four years.

A member of the City of Rathdrum Planning and Zoning Commission, Beesley said “serving in the community is very important to me.”

“If I were to be appointed, my commitment is to consider all of the testimonies and evidence before making policy decisions, approving budgets, or selecting and appointing the president of the college,” she wrote.

Robert Blansfield

Robert Blansfield, who has an undergraduate degree in accounting from California State University, Northridge and a master’s degree from Pepperdine University in California, is self-employed through a pair of agencies he founded, management-consulting firm Business System Associates and Nachrichtendienst, a private investigation firm.

Blansfield founded each agency after retiring from federal government work in 1997. According to Blansfield’s resume, he served as an audit manager for the CIA for 12 years after a six-year stint as a contract auditor for the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

“I firmly believe with my years of experience in private industry and government service, including military service, I can significantly contribute to the overall operation and administration of the college,” Blansfield wrote.

Pete Broschet

Pete Broschet is the director of human resources for Empire Airlines based in Hayden, Idaho. Empire Airlines hired Broschet for the job in August 2016.

A 2001 graduate from Eastern Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration (human resource management), Broschet said he wants to help guide North Idaho College through “the turbulent times it is facing.”

“My practical, no-nonsense approach to business and risk management, will assist North Idaho College with the issues that they are facing,” he wrote.

Andrew Kemna

Andrew Kemna has worked for nearly four years at Empire Airlines, mostly as a quality manager/assistant chief inspector.

A private pilot, Kemna’s previous work experience includes more than two decades with the U.S. Air Force, according to his letter to the Board of Trustees, during which time he held several technical management and supervisory positions. His educational background includes a master’s degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Kemna said his interest in the trustee’s position stems from his desire to serve the community.

“I wish to be considered for the vacancy and help NIC lead our area profession seekers attain the education and skills they need to succeed and be productive members of society,” he wrote.

Geoff Newman

Geoff Newman is a business manager for UPS, having worked for the company for 24 years, according to his letter of interest to the board. He wrote he is responsible for managing the Coeur d’Alene, Colville and Sandpoint UPS centers.

Newman is a graduate of Northwest Nazarene University, according to his submission.

Ann Hardt

Ann Hardt is a parent of past and present North Idaho College students. The spouse of a retired U.S. Navy service member, Hardt said she home-schooled her children because of the frequent moves required by the Navy lifestyle, though they have lived in Rathdrum since 2013.

Hardt said her family actively uses and benefits from the college’s educational services. Her three objectives, if selected for the position, would be to advocate for quality education, provide responsible stewardship of the college budget and represent the interests of students.

Michael Waggoner

Michael Waggoner is a frequent attendee of North Idaho College Board of Trustee meetings, according to his letter of interest, which contained nothing else other than his stated interest to assist the board.

Susan Overholser

Susan Overholser, who obtained a bachelor’s degree in business management from Saint Mary’s College of California, is presently a self-employed landlord and owner of a travel agency, according to her letter of interest.

Her previous work experience includes finance and tech support positions at Apple in the ’80s and ’90s, as well as a stint as a business administrator at Stanford University for the surgery and chemistry departments.

Her other experience in the higher education realm includes efforts, she said, to petition the University of California to build a campus in the Redding area. Upon moving to North Idaho, Overholser got involved in the Coeur d’Alene Garden District Preservation Board, she wrote.

Overholser said she believes she would be a “valuable, stabilizing addition to the board.”

“My only desire is the betterment of the college for the student’s and community’s sake,” she said.

Timothy Plass

Timothy Plass has more than 40 years of experience as a radio frequency communications engineer. Presently employed with Blue Origin, Plass once owned his own wireless internet business for seven years until selling it in 2017.

His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of California, Davis, and a master’s degree from Stanford University. Plass said six of his children have attended North Idaho College.

“As a consequence, I am very familiar with NIC and motivated to work for its improvement,” he wrote.

Eric Shanley

Eric Shanley, director of highways for the Lakes Highway District, graduated from North Idaho College in 1995, moving on to earn a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Idaho three years later.

A veteran of the Air Force and Washington Air National Guard, Shanley said he is a licensed professional engineer in Idaho who has spent nearly half of his career serving in the private engineering consulting sector. In this capacity, he has served elected officials, as well as water and sewer districts.

Shanley is a past chairman and active member of the Kootenai County Area Transportation Team, according to his letter of interest.

Indicating that his daughter is a North Idaho College student, while his son may attend in the future, Shanley said he has vested interest in the college.

“With my deep roots in our community, military, education, and professional background, I feel I have a lot to offer your board, the faculty, and students at North Idaho College,” he wrote.

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