NEWS BRIEFS: Despite assurances, NIC board actions threaten its accreditation and more

Plus, Washington lawmakers consider fighting hunger; and the emptying of Camp Hope.

click to enlarge NEWS BRIEFS: Despite assurances, NIC board actions threaten its accreditation and more
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Since 2020, North Idaho College has been a fraying rope in the tug-of-war between North Idaho's powerful right-wing political machine and the slightly more moderate establishment. The right-wing bloc of board members, campaigning with the position that the college wasn't really in danger of losing accreditation, narrowly took control of the college's board in November and quickly yanked the rope back in their direction, booting the college's president and installing their own interim president. But earlier this month, the organization that actually decides whether NIC keeps its accreditation — the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities — sent out a warning to the board that its actions put the college in "jeopardy." Translated: If NIC wasn't in danger before of losing accreditation due to the board of trustee's shenanigans, it sure as hell is now. Coeur d'Alene Press has highlighted the chaos that has surrounded the college, including multiple lawsuits and an exodus of staff. The college has until March 31 to prove that its accreditation shouldn't be terminated. (DANIEL WALTERS)


Federal food assistance funding was expanded during the pandemic, but now money from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is set to expire in March. Food banks have already been struggling to keep up with demand, which grew by more than 100 percent last year, according to testimony given to Washington lawmakers. But if House Bill 1784 passes, it would immediately appropriate $28 million to the state's general fund for food assistance. That includes $20 million for the state Department of Agriculture to give out as grants to hunger relief organizations; $2 million for the Fruit and Vegetables Incentive Program, which helps low-income families buy fresh produce; and $6 million for Area Agencies on Aging, to help feed seniors who could be most impacted by the loss of the pandemic-funded food assistance. According to experts who spoke in favor of the bill, some people receiving $200 a month from the federal pandemic assistance could soon see that drop to just $15 per month. (SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL)


Camp Hope, the East Central homeless encampment, had an estimated population of more than 600 people at its peak this summer, and a formal headcount of 467 in the fall. Today, the headcount stands at 108 people, meaning that roughly 334 people have left Camp Hope since September. But where did they go? As of Feb. 13, 62 people from the camp had moved to supportive housing at the Catholic Charities Catalyst Project. Things are less clear when it comes to the other 272 people who left. Empire Health Foundation President Zeke Smith says his organization is still working to pin down specific numbers. Some of the campers — more than 62, Smith says — landed in other housing or shelter options. Some are still homeless. Others have disappeared. "We don't really know where they are," Smith says, adding that he expects firmer numbers to be available in the future. According to Smith, the hundred or so people remaining at Camp Hope have acute needs that make housing and shelter especially difficult. (NATE SANFORD)

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