Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Idaho Falls airport unveils new logo, Web site,

Idaho Falls Regional Airport is unveiling both a new Web site and logo and name they hope will be easier to use and remember.

IFlyIDA.com includes a custom-designed logo as well as resources for travelers including a cost comparison calculator and booking widget.

The launch of the new branding components are part of the city's comprehensive air service marketing plan, aimed at boosting awareness in the community of what the airport has to offer. The plan was prepared by Sixel Consulting Group, based in Eugene, Ore., and paid for out of the airport's 2014-2015 marketing budget. The cost, approximately $30,000, involved stakeholder meetings, branding research and development, and the preparation of the plan. The contract with Sixel was approved Sept. 25, 2014, at the City Council's regular meeting.

To celebrate the launch, IDA is hosting an “I fly IDA because ... ” giveaway that asks entrants to tell why they choose to fly out of Idaho Falls.

Given the growth at the airport in traffic and the major renovations that have taken place over the last few years, Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper said she is eager to see what the marketing plan can accomplish.

“One of the recommendations from last year’s Airport Citizen Review Committee was to introduce a new marketing campaign to help reduce the amount of ‘leakage’ to other airports and to help change the perception that it’s cheaper to fly out of Salt Lake City," she said. "Hiring a marketing firm with extensive experience in airport marketing has already proven to be beneficial.”

IFlyIDA.com integrates the airport’s three letter airport code “IDA” into an easy-to-remember URL that distinguishes and identifies the airport to travelers. The Web site was custom designed to be mobile-friendly and includes a cost calculator and booking widget.

In addition to airfare, the cost calculator estimates the total cost of flying out of two other area airports based on the amount of money one would lose in travel time away from work, as well as gas and parking. The booking widget calculates automatically airfares to and from IDA and allows customers to book flights based on available options. To assist travelers with planning, real-time flight status updates, a flight tracker and air traffic map are also included.

The new, exclusively-designed logo highlights the airport’s three-letter code as a key distinguisher while the airport's official name is in smaller type.

“The launch of IFlyIDA.com and our new logo are important components of our marketing initiatives this year,” said Airport Director Craig Davis.

To enter the “I fly IDA because ... ” contest, complete the entry form found at Facebook.com/IFlyIDA or Woobox.com/n5baq3 and tell your story.  The promotion started today and wraps up Aug. 25 at 11:59 p.m. Each week, one participant will win a $200 Delta Air Lines or United Airlines gift card, and one contestant will win a trip for two to Las Vegas, or Phoenix-Mesa on Allegiant. Fans who share the promotion and get their friends to enter the giveaway will receive one additional entry.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Bond payoff saves Idaho Falls Power customer electric bill pain

On the local public power front, there is good news and bad news balancing each other out.

On Wednesdy, The Bonneville Power Administration announced it would be raising power and transmission rates for two years beginning Oct. 1. Idaho Falls Power, 41 percent of whose budget pays for power from BPA, is looking at paying $2 million more each year.

The good news is that with its hydropower project bonds paid off, Idaho Falls Power will be absorbing the BPA rate hikes and still lowering customers' utility bills.

“In 2015, we retired the debt associated with our locally-owned hydropower plants. With those debt payments off the books and in light of other efficiency measures we have implemented, we intend to absorb the rate increase from BPA and pass along a reduction in the consumptive use rate,” said Jackie Flowers, Idaho Falls Power general manager. “Most customers will see a decrease in the electric portion of their utility bill.”

The utility's proposed rate structure will be discussed at the Aug. 10 City Council work session.
Following that, Idaho Falls Power  will host three open houses on Aug. 12, inviting customers to their office to learn how the utility sets rates and hear more details about the proposed changes to rate structure. Open house times will be 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 8 p.m.

The cost of service model calls for the residential electric consumptive rate to drop from 6.25 cents per kilowatt-hour used to 5.78 cents per kilowatt-hour, less than half the national average of nearly 13 cents per kilowatt hour. The consumptive use rate decrease will be offset by an increase in the monthly customer service charge, from $10 to $15, to better capture “fixed costs” associated with keeping the city’s electric system in readiness. The model actually calls for the monthly customer service charge to be $18.

Idaho Falls Power also plans to implement a power cost adjustment as a component of its rate structure that will fluctuate annually, in order to more transparently pass along power supply costs.

The PCA will be a new line item on the bill and will be adjusted annually to reflect the previous year’s power supply costs. In good water years, the PCA may lead to a reduction in electric bills. In bad water years, the PCA may lead to an increase in electric bills. While the current water year has been mixed, this year the PCA will lead to an additional 0.43 cent per kilowatt-hour reduction in consumptive use rate for residential customers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

REDI hires Jan Rogers as new CEO

Jan Rogers
Jan Rogers, executive director of the Twin Falls-based Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization, has been named CEO of the Regional Economic Development Corp. for East Idaho. She will take the position in mid-September.

Rogers has been involved in Idaho economic development for 14 years and has been credited with bringing Chobani and Clif Bar to the Magic Valley. Earlier this month the six-county region was selected as one of the top 12 U.S. manufacturing communities by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership – and one of four U.S. regions in the Food Manufacturing category.

REDI was formed this past spring when Bingham County Economic Development and Grow Idaho Falls merged.

Former church could see something cooking inside its walls

Tyler Price would like to renovate this building on 13th Street into a culinary school.
I am on the East Coast till the end of the month but want to post periodically to reassure readers that I have not deserted you completely. This isn't France, where the whole country shuts down for a month in the summer, although here in Wilmington, Del., one of my favorite sub shops has closed down for two weeks, as has my mom's favorite bakery.

I saw this link Monday on the new, improved East Idaho News Web page, a story written by my old Post Register colleague Shel Williams. It seems the property on 13th Street between South Boulevard and Lee Avenue could have a new lease on life.

The pictures of graffiti inside remind me of the condition the O.E. Bell building was in before it was renovated to its present splendor. It would be equally bad to lose a building like this one on 13th Street (which, incidentally, has an auditorium where I once staged a production of Woody Allen's "Play It Again, Sam," in 1985.)

Here is a link to the story: http://www.eastidahonews.com/2015/07/former-church-could-see-something-new-cookin-inside-its-walls/. I would encourage you as well to check out the East Idaho News Web site, because the crew at Riverbend Communications, led by Nate Eaton and Nate Sunderland, have put a lot of effort into making it into something special.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Double Down celebrating anniversary this weekend

Double Down Betting Bar & Grill, 3078 Outlet Boulevard, is inviting the community to celebrate its one-year anniversary with a Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting and a full weekend of entertainment. The ribbon cutting will be Friday at 10 a.m. In the evening, entertainment starts at 7 with the Two Brothers Hypno Show, followed by karaoke and a live DJ.

On Saturday night, there will be live music by the Saloonatics. If you have a brand, bring your iron down to brand the bar at 6 p.m. There will be an old-time photo booth with prizes for people with the best Old West attire.

It has not been a year without controversy for Double Down. The issue of historical racing machines came front and center earlier this year in the Idaho Legislature, with lawmakers passing a bill banning them, claiming they were too similar to slot machines. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Butch Otter.

A little background: Pari-mutuel betting on horses in Idaho has been legal since 1963, and the Legislature authorized simulcasting in 1990. Before July 2011, however, simulcasting was only allowed at live horse racing facilities, Sandy Downs in Bonneville County's case. That year, the Legislature passed a bill allowing simulcast horse betting from other venues, supporters arguing that off-track locations could provide a better atmosphere, food and other incentives to attract paying customers. The 2011 bill did not allow new simulcast betting venues to be set up, but instead allowed existing operations like the one at Sandy Downs to move.

In 2014 the Legislature approved HB220, allowing pari-mutuel betting on historical horse races, which is done on machines. When a player makes a wager on the machine, a race is randomly selected from a video library of over 60,000 previous races. Identifying information such as the location and date of the race, and the names of the horses and jockeys, is not shown.

The player is able to view a "Skill Graph" chart from the Daily Racing Form, showing information such as jockeys' and trainers' winning percentages, and based on this handicapping information the player picks the projected top three runners in order of finish. Many players use a "handi helper" feature, which allows the machine to automatically make the selections.

Early versions of the terminals looked like self-serve wagering terminals, but over time some began to mimic slot machines, with symbols on spinning reels showing the results of the player's wager and the video of the actual race consigned to a 2-inch square in the corner of the screen.

In Idaho, this drew the ire of anti-gambling forces and also Native American tribes, the latter considering the machines competition to what they offer on their reservation casinos. Senate Bill 1011 repealed the Legislature's prior approval of the devices, passing the House by a 49-21 vote and the Senate 25-9.

Otter vetoed the bill in April, and the Senate’s 19-16 subsequent vote to override the veto fell five votes short. Otter has called for a moratorium on any new instant racing machines and indicated that he wants a special investigative team to look into whether the machines violate the Idaho Constitution, which prohibits slot machines.

Double Down's phone number is 521-5102. For questions on gaming, call 521-4729.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Venezuelan restaurant due to open soon in Idaho Falls

Ciomara Robirds, who plans to open a Venezuelan restaurant in Idaho Falls this week.
In the expanding array of world cuisine, Idaho Falls is about to get a Venezuelan restaurant, Gourmet Cio, at 1480 Freeman Avenue.

The owner, Ciomara Robirds, is no stranger to cooking. Before coming to the United States in 2000 she ran a restaurant in Venezuela. After moving to Idaho Falls in 2007 with her husband, Terrance, she put in five years at the Olive Garden, where she earned the sobriquet of “Soup Queen.”

Still, opening her own restaurant has always been a goal. “A person has to dream,” she said. Interviewed last Friday, she said she is hoping to start serving food on Thursday. A grand opening will come later, but she wants everything running smoothly before that happens.

What can a person expect in the way of Venezuelan cuisine? Because of its geography and cultural influences, Venezuelan food has a lot of variety. There are European influences, especially Italian, Spanish and French, as well as indigenous and African tastes. The food on the Caribbean coast is a lot different from the food of the Andean and Amazon regions.

Gourmet Cio’s menu will offer such dishes as tostadas made with plantains; cachapas, which are pancakes made from a puree of corn, sugar, salt and oil then folded over with a large piece of a soft white cheese inside; pasticho, the Venezuelan version of lasagna (the Italian word "pasticcio" actually means lasagna); and empanadas -- deep fried, stuffed corn flour patties typically filled with cheese and minced meat.

Friday, July 10, 2015

City Council begins budget work sessions Monday

Follow this link to view all the city's draft budget documents:
The Idaho Falls City Council is gearing up for the 2015/2016 budget season. As with all City Council meetings, the public is invited to attend.

The council is starting off with proposed expenditures of $190,889,392, up nearly 7.5 percent from $177,578,424 this year. The draft proposal is for a general fund expenditure increase of $1.97 million, a 4.27 percent boost from the current fiscal year.

A series of work sessions to discuss the budget will be held at City Council Chambers, 680 Park Avenue. The first will be Monday from 2 to 5 p.m. The second will be Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the last will be July 31 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

After that, the Council is scheduled to adopt a tentative budget Aug 13. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Sept. 3 and will be available to view via live stream on the city’s Web site.

Citizens are welcome to attend any or all of these meetings or reach out to City Council members independently.  The budget calendar, Council contact information and draft budget documents can be found online or by calling the City Clerk’s office at (208) 612-8415.

Here are links to the city's current budget documents: