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The Lemhi Education Project (LEP) is beginning to get both local and state recognition for its efforts to provide educational opportunities, according to a report to the Lemhi “County Commissioners.

On September 28 Lemhi Education Project Director Tiffany McAlister along with project supporters Cindy Phelps, Jo Schroeder, Bob Gutzman and Barbara Miller brought commissioners Rick Snyder and Ken Miner up to date on the organization’s recent accomplishments.

McAlister said the LEP is the first General Equivalency Diploma (GED) testing center in the state of Idaho not located on a college campus. The organization’s supervisory services during the testing are offered free of charge. So far this year 123 GED tests have been proctored, 61 people have indicated an interest in obtaining a GED and 134 adults have received free, individual tutoring sessions. McAlister said the two GED graduates have reported advancements resulting from acquiring the diploma. One has a new job that would not have been possible without the GED and the other received a promotion in a current job.

McAlister said the welding training brought to the area by the College of Southern Idaho was very successful. She said among the many trained were ten county employees who with the training fulfilled some grant requirements.

The Education Project has recently received a $25,000 Department of Labor grant to run a local Certified Nursing Assistants program. McAlister said the classes started September 23 with nine students. The program has a waiting list for the next class and there may even be a third session. She said there is no age requirement and could be open to High School students. The LEP has been working closely with the High School and there has been good community support for this latest program. Cindy Phelps mentioned they are hoping to offer an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) class in the future.

Gutzman said a lot of time has been spent establishing relations with the state and good progress has been made in getting heard. “We’ve been working really hard to get the state to recognize that we’re not getting service from them.” He told the commissioners that all the programs they were hearing about that day are because the state has begun to listen. He said the fact that state people are paying attention to the Salmon programs is one of the organization’s biggest accomplishments. The group was pleased to report local people are also noticing the services being offered and are actually coming to them instead of the other way around.

Miller extended thanks to Wendi Secrist of Idaho Professional-Technical Education as well as State Representative Merrill Beyeler and State Representative Steve Thayn for their interest and help with grants.

Gutzman said the Education Project now has computer training for grandparents, “… so they can talk to their kids.” Phelps added there is also training for young people who are no longer being taught keyboard in school. She said they know how to text on their phones but they have to go on-line to take the GED exams so a step back needs to be taken to fill in their education.

Phelps said the organization has been working closely with the High School related to the state push for Professional Technical Education (PTE). She said funds are available to develop PTE programs in high schools. The Education Project wants to start high school programs such as the CNA training as well as programs for auto mechanics and welding which could also be made available to the public. The LEP educational outreach has recently been extended to tutoring jail inmates.

The goal of the project continues to be to provide educational opportunities locally so those interested can obtain required classes without having to drive for hundreds of miles.

In order to obtain funding for the various educational opportunities the granting agencies need to know there is local support for the programs being offered by the Lemhi Education Project. The county has provided $12,000 in financial support for the past two years and Commissioners Snyder and Miner said based on the progress being made, that support will continue.

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