Stories in this Regional News Roundup are excerpted from weekly newspapers from around the region. This is part one, with part two set to appear in Sunday’s Tribune.
MCCALL — A company controlled by the family of Idaho Gov. Brad Little was paid $212,500 by Midas Gold in 2016 for 25 acres along Warm Lake Road for the company’s proposed logistics facility.
The land, about 8½ miles east of State Highway 55 near Cascade, was formerly owned by Little Enterprises, which the governor owns with his wife, Teresa, and their two children, Adam Little, of Boise, and David Little, of Emmett, Idaho.
Money from the sale was not paid to the partners in the company but was used to buy grazing lands in Gem County, said Marissa Morrison Hyer, Little’s press secretary.
The sale occurred when Little was lieutenant governor under former Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.
Little does not have any financial ties to Midas Gold and the land sale does not constitute a conflict of interest, Morrison Hyer said.
“That said, the governor has always been an advocate for transparency in government and will disclose this transaction should an issue regarding Midas Gold come before the state Land Board,” Morrison Hyer said.
Little’s stance mirrors that of the Idaho Ethics in Government law, which notes disclosing potential conflicts does not preclude officials from discussing and voting on the topic unless specifically requested by the official.
If a matter related to Midas Gold goes before the state Land Board, which is led by Little, he would be required to disclose the 2016 sale in a written statement filed to Secretary of State Lawerence Denney if a conflict exists, according to the ethics law.
The only decision related to Midas Gold that Little is likely to be involved in is final approval of a financial assurance package guaranteeing money for reclamation work after mining is completed, Midas spokeswoman Natalie Podgorski said.
“That would be the state Land Board’s only potential involvement in the Stibnite Gold Project,” Podgorski said.
The financial assurance package would be prepared by the Payette National Forest, which is the lead agency for permitting the proposed gold and antimony mine near Yellow Pine.
The 25-acre parcel formerly owned by Little Enterprises was one of many parcels along Warm Lake Road that Midas Gold considered buying, Podgorski said.
The company’s first choice of land was sold to Southern Pines Plantations, which then sold the parcel to DF Development, which was only willing to sell a much larger tract of land than needed by Midas Gold, she said.
“The only other parcel of land that met all of our criteria for the logistics facility was owned by Little Enterprises,” Podgorski said, noting the sale was negotiated solely through David Little.
— Drew Dodson, The Star-News (McCall), Thursday
KSD meeting to discuss Return to Learn plan
KAMIAH — A special board meeting of Kamiah Joint School District 304 will be held Monday beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Kamiah High School Library.
The purpose of the meeting is to present the draft Return to Learn plan to the school board trustees, according to Kamiah School Superintendent Benjamin Merrill. Interested community members are welcome to attend the meeting.
Once the plan is approved by the board, Merrill will send it to Public Health – Idaho North Central District for its review. A committee of teachers, administrators, parents, students and health professionals have worked intensely on the plan for the past two weeks.
Merrill said they realized quickly that “one size will not fit all, and they are building a plan to be flexible.”
Merrill’s goal “is to bring students and staff back to school safely for face-to-face learning,” but if that can’t be done, he wants to have other options.
He noted “feedback from the community survey show that some families aren’t comfortable sending their kids to face-to-face school even if the schools open.”
The Return to Learn group is working on the concept of a “Clearwater Web Academy” to provide a “combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning using various computer technologies.” Synchronous learning involves teachers and students meeting together virtually (in a Zoom room) for a class while asynchronous learning involves each student working on an online assignment with the teacher monitoring progress.
Merrill recognized some families do not have computers or high-speed internet connectivity at home, and he is working with staff on options to help with this.
— Norma Staaf, The Clearwater Progress (Kamiah), Thursday