Monday, May 23, 2016

Idaho Falls council hears Internet expansion options

The city of Idaho Falls is inviting the public to get involved in a conversation this fall about high-speed Internet service to homes.

At a work session Monday afternoon, Mayor Rebecca Casper and the City Council heard about a study done by Finley Engineering Co. and CCG Consulting.

Using Idaho Falls Power’s rights of way, the city began laying a fiber ring in the early 2000’s in order to improve communication between its power plants, offices and recreational facilities. The second advantage was the economic incentive of being able to offer “dark fiber” to business customers.

“Recognizing that home broadband use is experiencing exponential growth – doubling every three years – it was appropriate for us to identify the types of options that exist for promoting high speed broadband connectivity to homes as we contemplate the future of our existing network,” says Idaho Falls Power General Manager Jackie Flowers.

Idaho Falls Power issued a request for qualifications in 2015 to evaluate expansion options for the city’s existing dark fiber network and to identify potential alternatives associated with expanding high speed broadband connectivity to the home. With a winning bid of $56,904, Finley Engineering was hired in August to study the city’s Internet business model and present alternatives.

The feasibility study outlined Monday afternoon at a work session not only looked at the cost of building fiber everywhere in the city. It evaluated the cost of electronics and other assets needed to build and operate a fiber network and what level of penetration rate would be needed to make each option economically viable.

Here are the options:

  • Idaho Falls operating as an Internet service provider based on various public finance options. 29 percent penetration rate required.
  • Idaho Falls partnering with either an existing or new Internet service provider. 40 percent penetration rate required, and privately financed network expansion.
  • Public-private partnership with either an existing or new Internet service provider. 40 percent penetration rate required, and a combination of publicly and privately financed network expansion.
  • Internet service provider “cherry picking” areas of town most likely able to afford connectivity (also known as the “Google model”). 35 percent penetration rate required, and a privately financed network expansion.
  • Open access network, building off the existing business model where end use customer chooses from multiple providers. Publicly financed network expansion with no break even potential.

A series of public information sessions are planned this fall to present the detailed findings of the consultant’s report.

“If, after reviewing the report, the citizens of Idaho Falls want us to move forward, we will consider next steps. We are excited to engage the public in this conversation,” Flowers said.

NanoSteel receives Platts Global Metals Breakthrough Solution of the Year award

NanoSteel Vice-President Bob Marini accepting the Platts Global Metals Breakthrough Solution of the Year Award in London last Thursday night.
NanoSteel, an Idaho National Laboratory spinoff that still has its research and development in eastern Idaho, received major recognition in London Thursday night when it and its partner, AK Steel Corp., received the Platts Global Metals “Breakthrough Solution of the Year” Award.

The award came in recognition of NanoSteel’s advanced high strength steel, which brings the combination of both high strength and high formability to automotive lightweighting.

In April, the companies announced delivery of their product to General Motors for initial testing. The automaker’s venture arm, GM Ventures, bought equity in NanoSteel in 2012.

AHHS is viewed as a breakthrough in the drive to meet rising global fuel-economy regulations. Production of the material, targeted to the $100 billion-plus automotive steel market, is the result of a multi-year joint development program between NanoSteel and AK Steel.


“We believe this product brings optimal properties to automotive engineers for reducing structural weight without compromising safety and ride-quality requirements,” said NanoSteel president and CEO David Paratore. While significantly lighter, AHHS can be manufactured and fabricated like regular steel, making it more cost-effective than alternative metals and easier to integrate into a supply chain that has produced steel automotive components for more than 100 years.

Although its corporate headquarters are in Providence, R.I., NanoSteel’s research and development is still in Idaho Falls. The company came out of INL in 2002 when Dr. Dan Branagan, now NanoSteel’s chief technical officer, decided he had something that could change the world.

Since 2002, NanoSteel has developed metallic coatings, additive manufacturing powders, and sheet steel protected by over 300 patents. The company is privately held and funded by lead shareholders EnerTech, Fairhaven Capital, and GM Ventures.

The market for advanced high-strength steel is expected to reach $55 billion in 2020 and $77 billion in 2025, according to an article earlier this month in American Metal Market.

For more information, visit www.nanosteelco.com or follow them on Twitter, @NanoSteelCo.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

I.F. City Council to hear ideas for fiber-optic network expansion

The Idaho Falls City Council will be having a work session Monday afternoon to review ideas for the city’s fiber-optic network, including expanding it directly to homes.

In 2015, Idaho Falls Power solicited proposals from consultants for refreshing the business model of the city’s fiber optic network, which was first started in 2002.
and contemplate options for

A consulting team will be presenting expansion options at the work session, scheduled for 2 p.m. in the City Council chambers. The public is invited to attend or watch the meeting via the city’s live video internet stream.

The feasibility study, conducted by Finley Engineering and CCG Consulting, has not only looked at the cost of building fiber everywhere in the city, but also evaluated the cost of expanding the city’s fiber network.

A variety of scenarios have been studied, ranging from the city becoming an actual ISP (Internet Service Provider) to ways commercial providers might perform the service on a city network, to an open access network in which multiple ISPs provide services.

“Idaho Falls city officials believe that high speed broadband connectivity is a necessary 21st Century infrastructure offering,” Mayor Rebecca Casper said in a press release issued today. “The results of this study will poise the city to consider next steps for its already successful fiber network.”

Idaho Falls first started building its fiber optic network in 2002 to enable business connectivity and to provide better communication between city offices, power plants and facilities.

“Since that time, our network has been embraced by service providers and the business community,” said Jackie Flowers, Idaho Falls Power General Manager. The network has not only improved operational efficiencies for the city and its utilities, but it has also brought economic development and competitive internet service rates, and helped maintain city rights-of-way.

Today, nearly 400 business locations are connected to the Idaho Falls fiber network, with service being provided by seven private ISPs. “Many of our end-use customers are unaware that they are connected to the Idaho Falls network because we are the backbone that the service providers use to serve their customers,” Flower said.

The current fiber network enables voice, video and data service including access to high speed bandwidth internet (speeds in excess of 1 gigabit) and voice over internet protocol. The network also promotes video on demand and digital high-definition programming.

Fiber Fest starts Friday at Eastern Idaho Technical College

Are you a knitter looking for a new gift project to make? How about this one! Class available at the 2016 Snake River Fiber Fest. For registration and more information, see www.srfiberartists.org.
The 22nd Annual Snake River Fiber Fest starts Friday and runs through Sunday at Eastern Idaho Technical College, in the Alexander Creek Building.

Friday is classes only, while Saturday and Sunday there will be vendors offering supplies for spinners, weavers, rug hookers and other fiber artists.   Finished items and gift items will also be available.

Registration for classes and additional information can be found on the Guild’s website, www.srfiberartists.org.

If you need a spinning wheel or loom, they are available in limited quantity from the Weaving, Spinning & Fiber Arts Guild of Idaho Falls. Call Kate Wolski, (208) 521-5343.

There will be a fashion show and spin-in Saturday night. Events begin at 6 p.m. with a potato bar and salad supper (drink included) for $10 in the Hope Lutheran Church School gymnasium, 2071 12th Street. A dairy-free, meat-free option will also be available. Sign up and pay on the registration form if you want supper or just come on over for the fashion show and the spin-in.

The spin-in is set to begin around 8 p.m., with music by the Old Time Fiddlers. Dessert will be available on a pay-as-you-go basis.

For more information, visit online at www.srfiberartists.org/2016_snake_river_fiber_fest.

Members of the guild are fiber artists who specialize in spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting & tatting. Members have all levels of experience, and are dedicated to teaching, learning and building skill in the fiber arts. Classes are often taught by well-known artists and authors who teach spinning, weaving, knitting, rug hooking, felting, beading and dyeing yarns and fibers.

The guild rents a studio in Idaho Falls in the historic Idaho Professional Building, 482 Constitution Way, Suite B-11. Access is through the front entrance and parking is available in the adjacent lot near the side entrance.

Java Espress holding grand opening Friday for new store

Java Espress' new store at 2139 E. 17th Street has been open since Tuesday, but the grand opening is set for Friday morning.
Java Espress will be having a grand opening Friday at its new shop at 2139 E. 17th Street, in the parking lot in front of Big Lots!

There will be a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m., and the store will be offering a buy-one-get-another-for-free deal on flavored sodas.

Owned by Shane Murphy, Java Espress has been around since 1993. Since then, it has expanded to several stores, all the way to Twin Falls and most recently in Pocatello this past February.

Hours are 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit www.javaespress.com or visit the its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/JavaEspress.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Short Stop 2 opens in Coltman

Huds, built in 1938, is now Short Stop 2.
Short Stop 2, also known as Hud’s Food Store, will have a grand reopening Saturday, May 21, at 3 p.m.

Located at 12492 N. 5th East, the store can be found by driving straight out Lewisville Highway, past the city of Idaho Falls’ Sage Lakes Golf Course.

This is the second store for Jason and Jennifer Anderson, who bought the Short Stop Market in Highland Park in 2013. Jason Anderson said he became aware last fall that Hud’s was for sale. They closed on the property in December.

The store, officially located in Coltman, was built in 1938. It had been closed for 2 1/2 years before the Andersons bought it.

“We considered it a good value,” he said. “It’s in a location I think is really underserved, and that’s what you look for with a business like this.”

Going by USGS data, he learned there are about 1,400 households within a three-mile radius.

Anderson said he plans to operate as a hybrid. “About 40 percent of what we carry is what you’d find in a grocery store and about 60 is more convenience store,” he said. The inventory mirrors the Highland Park store, which will still be the base of operations for Short Stop’s delivery service.

The grand opening will feature food, games, trivia and prizes. “We want to meet the community and give them a look at what we have to offer,” Anderson said.

For more information, visit www.shortstopmkt.com or the Facebook page, Short Stop 2, or call (208) 970-4240.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Business Basics workshop set

The Small Business Administration’s Boise office will be at the Small Business Development Center in Idaho Falls Wednesday to conduct a free Business Basics workshop.

Topics to be covered include self evaluation, resources, choosing the right legal structure, building a business plan, preparing for a lender and marketing.

Co-sponsors include SBDC and SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives).

The workshop will be from 9 to 10:30 a.m. The center is located at 2300 N. Yellowstone Highway. For more information, call (208) 523-1087 or visit http://idahosbdc.org/regional-training/.

To register online, email wilsfros@isu.edu.