Rural

learning elementary student teacher
Alvin Trusty / Flickr Creative Commons

A number of rural Idaho school districts are struggling to lure licensed teachers to classrooms causing the districts to hire more unlicensed educators.

The Times-News reported on Sunday that the Twin Falls School District hired 20 unlicensed educators this year as other nearby districts are also hiring more unlicensed teachers.

Dave Harbison / Idaho Education Association

Teachers around the state are ready with lesson plans as a new school year gets under way. But in one tiny school district in rural Idaho, salary negotiations are making this hectic time of year a little more stressful.


Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

It’s hard not to pick up a hammer and start working when you see the nearly destroyed Atlanta Club up-close. Built in the 1940s by a Yugoslavian bootlegger, the club has survived wildfires and the collapse of the mining industry in this tiny town northeast of Boise.

But this year's record winter was devastating for the building; after an unlucky mix of conditions the old roof couldn’t take it anymore. It collapsed one day, emitting a cloud of dust so thick it looked like smoke.

Jimmy Emerson / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Department of Labor says between 2015 and 2025, the state is expected to grow by 15 percent.

Using a new model to project these changes, the agency says the state’s pace is about three times higher than the nation’s when it comes to population.

So where is this boost coming from? The trend of older people moving to the state for retirement continues to lead the way. The department predicts the 65 and older crowd will grow by about 36 percent.

Screengrab / Feeding America

A new report shows the number of people dealing with hunger in Idaho has dropped overall. But children in some parts of the state are still struggling to get enough to eat.

The annual study by Feeding America – a national network of food banks – shows that overall food insecurity in the state has decreased incrementally.

Screengrab / Senate Natural Resources Committee

Sunday night, Congress negotiated a budget bill to fund the government for the next six months. One provision not included was a reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools Act, or SRS.

Rural schools, Idaho County, bus
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Skip Hall has been a teacher at Grangeville High School for 31 years. His early American history class with freshmen and sophomores will be one of his last: he’s retiring at the end of the school year.

As Hall’s class works together on projects, he takes a moment to reflect on the state of education in his district.

“The biggest thing I see is lack of choice for the students," Hall says.

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Update, April 20: The Valley County team did not take home one of the top prizes in Denver, despite making it to the finals. 

Peter Barker / Flickr Creative Commons

A lumber mill in northern Idaho has closed down, leaving about 40 people without work.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Tri-Pro Forest Products closed its Orofino mill on Tuesday. Resource Manager Mike Boeck says a lack of cedar logs forced the company to curtail operations at the Clearwater County mill over the past few weeks.

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

"Nitrate" may as well be a four-letter word in the small town of Ashton, Idaho.

The eastern Idaho town of 1,200 people is about 20 miles from the border of Wyoming. Settlers in the area in the 1890s quickly took advantage the fertile volcanic soil beneath their feet, and began diverting water to irrigate the land. Seed potatoes are the big cash crop, though wheat, barley and hay also contribute to the local economy.

IcaWise / Flickr Creative Commons

If you lived in a rural part of the state in 1990, there’s a good chance that you now live in a town or city. That’s according to census data parsed by the Idaho Department of Labor. Researcher Janell Hyer says people are continuing to move where the jobs are – and that means more populated cities like Boise and Meridian.

“People are coming from the rural areas moving into the urban areas," says Hyer. "Even though they may not be growing as fast as they were in previous years, they are still growing and that’s where the growth is taking place.”

City of Emmett

Many people in Idaho know the city of Emmett for its annual cherry festival, which draws thousands to the small town every year. But its place on a recently published list is drawing some negative attention.

InciWeb

The Soda Fire has burned more than 400 square miles of sage brush and rangeland 40 miles west of Boise. It’s just eight miles from Jordan Valley.

Ranchers and farmers are building firebreaks to protect their property. Power poles have burned up, leaving some without power. Despite the danger, the communities throughout the area are coming together to help those in need.

Oregon's congressional delegation is hoping to secure a two-year extension of timber payments to rural counties. The Secure Rural Schools provision is tucked in a bill the U.S. House is voting on this week.

Castle Peak, Baker Ranch
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

If Hollywood needed a setting for one of its westerns, this spot along the East Fork of the Salmon River just might be it. In fact, one of Clint Eastwood’s famous westerns, Pale Rider, was shot not too far from here.

For the dwindling number of ranchers who still earn their livings on this land, this valley is nothing like a romanticized western – it’s gritty, year-round work.

The Baker family has lived, and ranched here for more than 125 years.

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