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The Lemhi Education Project (LEP) is five years old this year. Project Director Tiffany McAlister presented the Salmon City Council a progress report at its April 6 meeting and asked for the city’s continued support.

The LEP was created in 2011 by a group of local citizens concerned that the geographical distance from learning centers was affecting not only the economy but the vitality of the community. The founders’ mission was and is to improve the lives of people living in Lemhi County by providing in-person professional expertise to those in search of educational avenues and to provide connecting links to critical educational resources and opportunities.

The city has been a long time financial supporter of the LEP effort and McAllister documented the project’s goal of maximizing those contributions.

McAlister said great gains have been made in the past year especially considering the fact that, “No town in Idaho is as isolated from post-secondary educational support as Salmon is.”

One of the many challenges is there is no local college taxing district even though the community has many students who need such support and services. McAlister said in spite of that LEP has scored many successes. In the past 12 months LEP has worked with over 36 college students who are attending nine different on-line colleges. The students have been helped through the enrollment process and on to supervised on-line exams. The proctoring service means tests can be taken locally and in 2015 there were 152 free exams proctored. So far this year 45 tests have been supervised.

Tutoring is another service offered by LEP. Last year there were 158 free of charge tutoring visits for adult students. So far this year there have already been 27 tutoring visits. McAlister said she is recently seeing a shift in the number of people coming in for assistances with the General Equivalency Diploma (GED) and tutoring programs. The change is that the cliental is trending towards the age group of late 20’s early 30’s. Initially the mix included a predominance of high school students. The GED exams and practice tests leading up to the official proctored exam are given locally. National statistics show having a high school diploma or GED equates to an income boost of $9,000 a year. McAlister said six local people have successfully completed the GED process and there is a list of people presently working towards that same goal.

McAlister said the Highway Flagging class last June trained 13 people and efforts are underway for another welding class. The Nursing Assistant Program, with the help of people in the community, local employers and private donors, has been able to convince Eastern Idaho Technical College to revive training classes. Seventeen people have been trained and there is hope for a third class starting in April for six students. McAlister said, “I don’t see this need going away.” She said qualifying for a Department of Labor micro-grant has subsidized training and has helped to keeps costs down.

Also in the works is an effort by East Idaho Technical College to bring back the Licensed Practical Nurse Program (LPN).

There are short term work shop style computer classes for those wanting better jobs. McAlister said supporting a family is a real struggle without computer skills.

McAlister and LEP Committee member Bob Gutzman both extended great thanks to State Representative Merrill Beyeler for his support in the legislature. He helped the LEP put a proposal together to make LEP the model program for Idaho. Guzman said it was a strong proposal and almost made it through but not quite. They will try it again next year.

McAlister said with Beyeler’s help the proposal drew a lot of statewide attention to the needs and services of the LEP and facilitated a contact with Idaho Business for Education which is a Boise based organization of current and retired CEO’s concerned about the state of education in Idaho.

The funding request of $12,000 for the LEP is the same as supplied last year by the city and the same as will be requested from the county.

The LEP is a subcommittee of the non-profit Lemhi County Economic Development Association (LCEDA) which McAllister said provides invaluable guidance and support plus a facility in which to base operations. She said, “We could not exist without them.”

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