Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Here we are at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's in Brandywine Hundred, Wilmington, Del.
Day 5 of my annual East Coast sojourn, we hit Trader Joe's for those cheese sticks my mom practically lives on and some bread crumbs to make meat loaf. I can tell you it was everything I hoped for and perhaps much, much more. I can't tell you when we're going to get Trader Joe's in Idaho Falls, but I can say for sure that if or when we do they will sell Two Buck Chuck, which this store in Delaware can't. Yep, beer, wine and spirits are all sold at privately owned liquor stores in the Blue Hen State. No beer or wine in the grocery stores. Anyway, this is just to let all you loyal readers know I'm thinking about you land sending good thoughts your way. Trader Joe's thoughts. Dunkin' Donuts, too. Any requests? I've got another 10 days and will lose all the extra pounds when I get home.

Two nuclear engineering students receive scholarships

The Partnership for Science & Technology and the Western Initiative for Nuclear have awarded $5,000 in scholarships to two college students. Funding for the scholarships was provided by a grant from NuScale Power LLC.

The students who received the scholarships were:
  • Paulina Hyde, who is pursuing a double major in mechanical and nuclear engineering at Idaho State University.
  • Kaleb Trotter, majoring in mechanical engineering at the University of Idaho and planning to continue his education with master’s and doctorate degrees in nuclear engineering.
The scholarship application asked each student to submit a 250-word essay on how they might apply their field of study to Small Modular Reactor technology.

“We are fortunate to work with an organization like NuScale Power," said Leslie Huddleston, PST's executive director, announcing the awards in a press release timed to coincide with the Intermountain Energy Summit taking place in Idaho Falls today and Wednesday. "Their membership in PST and involvement in the Project WIN Scholarship underscores their commitment to the community, Idaho and this nation’s need to train the next generation of nuclear engineers. … These students represent the future of the nuclear industry.”

Monday, August 18, 2014

Salutation from the Blue Hen State

Downtown Market Street, Wilmington, Del.
I am in Delaware the next two weeks, visiting my mom, who turns 82 on the 26th, but I don't want you to feel like I'm not thinking of you. I will keep posting as the spirit moves me.

While walking to the Dunkin Donuts on French Street (I know, I know), I saw this Walgreen's at Market and Ninth (it was Woolworth's when I was a youngster.) The architecture reminded me of downtown Idaho Falls, the Salisbury Building perhaps, and it made me feel a little low that we can't have something like this. The reason is simple, I've been told. There aren't enough people living downtown to support development like this. Wouldn't it be nice if there were to change some day?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Under arrest and out of a job?

Monday mornings are one of my favorite times to catch up on what’s happened over the weekend.  I dial into MSN, local news Web sites and Facebook to get my fill of current events before I get my week going.

This week was especially interesting.  Browsing through the news, I happened to see a link to a story on an person who had been arrested on charges of driving under the influence and hitting a pedestrian. While this might not be any big deal, the mug shot was of a co-worker to a close colleague of mine.

Visiting with my colleague later that day, she disclosed to me that she had received many reports, texts and e-mails notifying her of the arrest. Bear in mind this is not the person’s manager, just a co-worker. She said she was unsure how management would handle the situation, or how any employer should handle this sort of situation. It got me thinking.

Employees are people and so are managers. We all know no one is perfect. We all make mistakes, but what do you do when someone makes a mistake and is charged with breaking the law?

There’s really not an easy answer because there are legal liabilities that can be involved when considering a candidate for employment if they have been arrested or convicted of a crime.

There are certain state and federal laws that specifically state that if an individual is arrested or convicted of a crime they may not hold certain positions or occupational licenses. These are very specific in nature and most of the time they are carefully outlined to an individual during the pre-employment and hiring process. This makes it so employees and employers are on the same page that if Employee A is arrested or convicted of Crime B.  They will be terminated and cannot be employed (or hold a license) for Position C.

Outside of that, however, lies a very grey area for employers and employees. In making hiring decisions, an employer can take into consideration a candidate's criminal background. For example, if a candidate applying for a bookkeeping position had been arrested and convicted of forgery or fraud, it might be reasonable to expect an the employer would not hire the candidate for that reason.

In order for employers to cover their bases and lessen legal liabilities (and potential discrimination cases with the EEOC), a background check for applicants should be run, candidates should be provided with their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and a solid policy in place stating the convictions that disqualify candidates from employment should be in place. Just taking information off an application may not be the best course of action.

To help employers and employees understand these matters, the EEOC in 2012 released the Enforcement Guide on Consideration of Arrests and Convictions. Typically, employment attorneys and HR professionals are a good resource to visit with about best practices.

Keep in mind that hiring decisions based on arrests or convictions should be carefully considered. For this reason, most employers shy away from asking about arrests through the application process (convictions are a different story). This allows the employer to more fairly consider the conduct in relation to a candidate's fitness for a position.

But what happens if someone gets hired with flying colors but has a little too much fun one weekend and ends up in jail?  Next week we will discuss the impact an arrest may or may not have on current employment.

Monica Bitrick is CEO if Bitrick Consulting Group, a human resources company in Idaho Falls.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Arts Council plans grand opening this weekend for ARTitorium

The green screen station at the ARTitorium on Broadway, scheduled to open to the public this weekend.
The ARTitorium on Broadway -- the Idaho Falls Arts Council's 21st century re-imagining of the Rio Theater -- will have its grand opening Friday and Saturday. Opening events will take place Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Adminssion will be $1 for these two days.

IFAC has described the new facility, at 271 Broadway, as a technology-driven arts center for youth. The main floor features a variety of interactive art stations, including a lighted motion wall, virtual art gallery, gigantic magnetic wall, computerized animation kiosk and life-size green screen.

Upstairs is a 170-seat theater and recording facility, equipped with a professional grade p.a. system and digital mixing gear. A jazz concert has already been scheduled for September.

Most of the interactive art stations were developed by Protozone Interactives, whose clients include The National Museum of Art, The San Francisco Exploratorium and The National Museum of Science and Industry.

The Idaho Falls Arts Council started a fund-raising drive in May 2013 to raise $241,000, the amount it said it needed to remodeling the old Rio.

A group of anonymous challenge grant donors had promised a matching amount,   but established a tight deadline. The money came through, which allowed the  Arts Council to spend $1.53 million on the facility and have it open this summer.

For more information, visit www.idahofallsarts.org.

Monday, August 11, 2014

D Street Underpass scheduled to be open Aug. 27

The D Street Underpass
No date has been set for a ribbon cutting, but the city of Idaho Falls is eyeing Aug. 27 as the day the long-awaited D Street Underpass will be open to traffic. Public Works Director Chris Fredericksen said curb and gutter, paving and some concrete curing remain to be done.

Trains began rolling over the bridge in May, months later than originally planned. The new structure will have two westbound lanes, one eastbound lane and a wide sidewalk, all at street level. Although there will be no lane specifically dedicated to bike traffic, the city has designed the lanes to be wide enought to accommodate bike traffic without trouble or incident.

Do what you love ... it's better than doing something you hate

Paul McCartney in concert last Thursday night in Salt Lake City.
You've probably heard the old adage, "Do what you love and the money will follow." I've never been totally convinced of that, but I will concede that doing what you love for money is a lot better than doing something you hate.

What if you don't need the money? The reason I ask this is I'm still buzzing from seeing Sir Paul McCartney in Salt Lake City on Thursday night. I don't describe many things as "awesome," but his show was. I have carried the Beatles in my heart for almost 50 years, so it was a big, big night for me. The Beatles were the reason I asked my parents for a guitar when I was 12. What they were doing looked like more fun than people were allowed to have, and I can't imagine what my life would have been like without their inspiration. I love singing and playing more than anything in the world, and even make a little money at it, but money isn't the point. Joy, generosity, creativity and good humor can make you whole. Sir Paul's performance Thursday night was a great reminder.

Let's get real. Here is a guy who does not need to make any more money than he already has. Although I am sure he is paid handsomely, the tickets to his show were not overpriced. My wife, son and I sat in the 14th row for less than $900. At a U2 or Rolling Stones show, the tab would have been closer to $3k, a sum I would never, ever pay.

My takeaway from the show was that McCartney, 72, gave it his all for more than two-and-a-half hours because he's still living the dream he had as a kid and loves it as much as he did the day he met John Lennon in 1957. That love is infectious, and something you can't put a price tag on.

Most of us put up with work in order to do the things we love in our free time. Today, before I go out and try to discover if there is any news to report, the question I want to ask is whether you can bring any love to what it is you do for a living? You're lucky if you can, but don't forget that we make our own luck.