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EDITORIAL: The rough road ahead for NIC

| November 13, 2022 1:00 AM

Let’s put on our cardinal-colored glasses for a moment.

Let’s assume that the 2023 edition of the North Idaho College Board of Trustees looks more like the late-2022 model rather than the 2021 and early 2022 rendition.

Timing meant everything. In 2021, when NIC was brought to its administrative knees by ideologically miscast trustees Todd Banducci, Greg McKenzie and Michael Barnes, existential alarms were going off. Local college supporters heard them. So did the accrediting agency that holds NIC’s future in its hands.

Barnes quit and the two conscientious, qualified trustees, Ken Howard and Christie Wood, resigned. That opened the door to the Idaho State Board of Education appointing three outstanding men to hold the fort — nay, to reinforce the walls and ramparts — until Nov. 8 rolled around.

The election produced two aces and a wildcard. The aces: Brad Corkill and Tarie Zimmerman. The wildcard: Mike Waggoner.

All three are Republicans, as are Banducci and McKenzie, so you might think that a red royal flush would guarantee a winning hand. That’s what the view through cardinal-colored glasses suggests, anyway, and until the three newcomers take their seats and cast their votes, let’s cling optimistically to the idea that North Idaho College proceeds in good and thoughtful hands.

But what if?

Waggoner and Zimmerman are fresh faces on the local political scene, relative unknowns who at best have a hefty learning curve ahead of them.

Corkill? If the new majority takes its gloves off, as many expect, they’re in for a hell of a scrap.

Brad Corkill is a lumberman who’s picked bigger splinters than Todd Banducci out of his calloused hands.

He’s a former Idaho Fish and Game commissioner who’s hunted fiercer critters than Greg McKenzie.

And when it comes to political bonafides, Corkill is a former chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee. He led ethically then and he’ll lead ethically now.

Slipping off the cardinal-colored glasses, you might envision two more years of the same foundation rot that undermined NIC while Banducci wore the chairman's hard hat. But take heart even if that happens again.

Those who claim NIC’s imperiled accreditation is a convenient political myth will be proven wrong. Turmoil and academic agony might lie ahead as the college is brought to the precipice of a fatal plunge, but with the community firmly behind the institution, its faculty, staff, students and administration, North Idaho College will survive and, eventually, thrive.

The next trustee election is two years away.

We can get there from here.

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