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by Pia K. Hansen

Lake goes to tribe

Coeur d'Alene -- As a result of a United States Supreme Court ruling Monday, ownership of the submerged land in the southern one-third of Lake Coeur d'Alene now officially falls to the Coeur d'Alene Tribe.

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe challenged the state of Idaho's ownership of that part of the lake back in '94. Federal district court in Boise set aside state ownership in a ruling in '98. Last March, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed that decision to stand; that's when the state of Idaho appealed to the Supreme Court.

Ownership of the rest of the lake was not part of this lawsuit.

"The Court's decision does not change the fact that the state of Idaho and the Coeur d'Alene Tribe share a common interest in proper management of Lake Coeur d'Alene," says Al Lance, Idaho's attorney general. "The Court's decision brings finality to an issue that has been an impediment to resolution of state and tribal concerns regarding long-term management of the lake."

The state of Idaho has argued that ownership of beds and banks of lakes and rivers passed to the state when it was established.

The approximately 5,200 acres of the lake have been under tribal management since 1998, and management of public access, law enforcement and other policy issues will continue to be governed by tribal law.

Homeless health care

Spokane -- The Community Health Association of Spokane (CHAS) has just received a $859,000 federal grant to help fund medical and social services to non-insured and low-income populations in Spokane. CHAS will receive the grant every year for the next five years.

"What's even more exciting is that we were also awarded an expansion grant to expand our services into the northwest part of the community," says Peg Hopkins, executive director of CHAS. "We were in a competitive round of bidding and received $550,000 for the expansion. That is the largest health center expansion grant awarded in the United States at this time."

CHAS runs six clinics and the Health Care for the Homeless Program, which reaches out to homeless people all over Spokane.

"We provide primary care for the homeless, and that does include a major outreach effort of going out into the camps along the river and where the homeless people are," says Hopkins. "Occasionally a case worker will go out to see a homeless person we are especially worried about. We have several thousand outreach contacts a year."

The $859,000 a year will fund medical and dental care for CHAS's 16,000 active clients.

"That's what gets me here every morning," says Hopkins. "Sixteen thousand clients translates into about 50,000 encounters a year, and we serve everyone from newborns to our oldest client, who I think is 96."

CHAS receives funding from other sources as well. "Still, I'd say this funding is our backbone," says Hopkins. "Our annual operating budget is $8.5 million, so between this grant and the Community Health Center grant we have been receiving since '98, it covers 24 percent of our operating budget. This is long term and for the uninsured, which is where our mission lies."
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