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kicking horse file

Errin Bigcrane, a student in the certified nurse assistant program at Kicking Horse Job Corps near Ronan, talks in 2018 about how students learn to care for patients in the procedure room. The Kicking Horse program is set to expire Feb. 28.

The Kicking Horse Job Corps Center in Ronan is scheduled to close at the end of the month.

The facility is part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Corps career-training program, and had been operated by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes since 1970. It has 46 employees and a maximum capacity of 177 students.

But on Feb. 28, the Job Corps will end its operations under the Department of Labor contract and close, tribal council informed staff there Wednesday afternoon.

“All we know for certain is that our ability to operate Kicking Horse Job Corps through a Department of Labor contract [was] terminated with our existing contract term,” McDonald wrote in an email, adding that the tribal government was not offered an extension.

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There are currently no students living at Kicking Horse, which has faced challenges over the past year. Last January, the U.S. Department of Labor had ordered an enrollment freeze, citing operational and safety concerns. McDonald said that the tribes had been working to fix problems with the center.

“We still have a lot of questions with the Department of Labor,” he said.

Asked for further information, a department spokesperson wrote in an email that “the U.S. Department of Labor is in ongoing discussions with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes regarding the future of the Kicking Horse Job Corps Center.”

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