Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Stoplight Pizza opens in Idaho Falls

Stoplight Pizza owner Tom Williamson at his new Idaho Falls location.
Stoplight Pizza, which has been open in Ririe for two years, opened its second restaurant Monday, at the corner of Yellowstone and E Street in Idaho Falls. It is owned by Tom Williamson, who told us last month he had been thinking about an Idaho Falls location form about a year.

A California native, Williamson, 40, spent 18 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and served five tours in Iraq. After he left in 2009, he started experimenting with pizza recipes that he thought people would enjoy. Opening in Ririe provided him a chance to start small, building a customer base from around the state.

With a downtown Idaho Falls location Williamson said he hopes to develop a lunchtime trade. He estimates that 30 percent of the customer base for his Ririe pizzeria come from Idaho Falls, so he has a leg up on building a reputation.

For more information, call 932-4477.

Are low gas prices here to stay a while?

I’ve been writing gasoline price stories for decades, and one thing I know is that no matter how much your sources say the numbers at the pump are related to supply and demand, most Americans think something shady is going on.

A year ago, who would have dared to think regular unleaded would be selling for less than $3 a gallon. Yet as I’m looking right now at the GasBuddy app on my phone, I see local prices are generally in the range of $1.90, with $2.15 reported at the Chevron on Grandview. Last week I gassed up my Subaru for $1.64. Horror! I expect very soon to see Facebook friends posting, “The fix is in!”

Is our era of good feeling coming to an end? This is a time of year when we see gas prices start to rise, typically peaking around Memorial Day. Conventional wisdom and past experience suggest our respite is likely to be short-lived, but Bradley Olson at Bloomberg Business dares to suggest that low oil prices could be here for a while and perhaps quite a while.

A growing consensus is emerging from the likes of BP Plc, the International Energy Agency, shale wildcatters and even the Saudis that a near-term recovery to $100-a-barrel crude isn’t in the cards. Instead, expect a range of $50 to $60 for at least the next few years.

When oil prices plunged sharply in 2008, they rebounded almost as quickly. Several months ago, industry and government touted the same U or V-shaped recovery this time out. On closer examination, a new factor in the marketplace — shale oil — has changed their minds.

“This is the new normal,” Dennis Cassidy, co-leader of the oil and natural gas practice for consulting company AlixPartners, said in an interview. His group sees an L-shaped chart that could extend for three to five years.

Unlike other petroleum formations, the nature of shale — with multiple inexpensive, short-lived wells — means producers can stop and start drilling on a dime. On the one hand, this allows them to quickly cut costs in a downturn; on the other, every time prices tick up, so will their output — renewing downward pressure on prices.

To read the full story, follow this link: L-shaped Oil Recovery Flattens V-shaped Market Optimists. And, as they used to say at the ESSO station, "Happy motoring!"

Index shows rise in Idaho Falls home prices

Here is a line graph showing what the price of a $150,000 home in the Idaho Falls area would have done over the last 10 years. After peaking around $195,000 in the first half of 2008, the number slid to around $164,000 in mid-2011 and bobbed along between that number and $170,000 until third quarter of $2014.
If you bought a $150,000 home in the fourth quarter of 2004, the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Calculator says it would be roughly worth this in the fourth quarter of 2014:

Idaho Falls: $171,411  +14.3%
Pocatello: $179,618  +19.7%
Boise: $188,740  +25.8%
Reno: $123,048  -17.9%
Las Vegas: $108,277  -27.8%
Seattle: $192,029  +28%
Phoenix: $165,778 +10.5%
Here's a graph for Boise. Note that Joe Homeowner was underwater from Q1 2011 to Q2 2012, but recovery has been strong since then. 
Go ahead and try your house, but remember the House Price Calculator does not project the actual value of any particular house. What it projects is what a given house purchased at a point in time would be worth today if it appreciated at the average appreciation rate of all homes in the area. The actual value of any house will depend on the neighborhood, house condition and age, home improvements made and needed, and many other factors. Consult a qualified real estate appraiser in your area to obtain a professional estimate of the current value of your home. Title XI of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 requires that any appraisal used in connection with a federally related transaction must be performed by a competent individual whose professional conduct is subject to supervision and regulation. Appraisers must be licensed or certified according to state law.

Monday, March 2, 2015

EITC Foundation announces award recipients

The Eastern Idaho Technical College Foundation has announced this year’s recipients of its annual awards, recognizing contributors, corporate partners, outstanding faculty and staff.
The awards will be presented April 8 at the Shilo Inn, at the foundation’s annual banquet and scholarship ceremony.

The award recipients are:

  • EITC Foundation Contributor of the Year — William Maeck/Maeck Family Foundation
  • Corporate Partner of the Year — Teton Toyota/Mario and Glenda Hernandez
  • Richard and Lila Jordan Outstanding Faculty of the Year: Peggy Nelson, EITC division manager
  • EITC Foundation Outstanding Staff of the Year: Pamela LeVan, student services. 

All award recipients will be featured in an article in INVEST magazine (a foundation publication) and photos displayed on the EITC Campus.

RSVP’s are required for the scholarship banquet. For more information, call (208) 535-5398 or email natalie.hebard@my.eitc.edu.

Longtime City Clerk Rosemarie Anderson retiring

Kathy Hampton and Rosemarie Anderson on the steps of City Hall.
Longtime City Clerk Rosemarie Anderson, who started with a manual typewriter and served under five Idaho Falls mayors, is stepping down in a month and being replaced by Kathy Hampton, who was named at the Idaho Falls City Council meeting last Thursday.

Anderson, who began working for the city 31 years ago under Mayor S. Eddie Pedersen, announced her retirement earlier this year. Rose Anderson began her employment with the city in the Public Works Division, where she met her husband, Steve Anderson. In her career with the city she also worked in the Police Department and for Personnel, Planning & Building and Municipal Services.

“Rose was instrumental with assisting in the organization of the Historic Preservation District, as well as many departmental filing systems throughout the city,” said Municipal Services Director Craig Rockwood.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to have served this city and its citizens for the past 31 years,” Anderson said. “I had the distinct opportunity to work for five of our city’s mayors – S. Eddie Pedersen, Thomas Campbell, Linda Milam, Jared Fuhriman and now Rebecca Casper.”

Hampton, who will take office April 5, has worked for the city since April 2007. She started in the treasurer’s office and was made the city’s deputy clerk in December that same year.

She is completing her training through the Association of Idaho Cities and Boise State University to become a Certified Municipal Clerk with the State of Idaho. Last September, she was awarded one of the Mayor’s “Above & Beyond” employee recognition awards for exemplary service to the city.

Idaho Falls Fire Department mourns Roland Clark, Idaho's first paramedic

Roland "R.C" Clark in his days with the Idaho Falls Fire Department
The Idaho Falls Fire Department is mourning the passing of Roland Clark, a retired division chief and the first paramedic in the State of Idaho.

Clark died Feb. 12 at age 73 at his home in Apache Junction, Ariz., from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

He started working for the fire department in 1965 and became a paramedic in March 1974, holding the EMS number of 0001. Idaho EMS numbers now run in the tens of thousands.

He was a 37-year member of the Idaho Falls Firefighters Union (IAFF Local 1565) and a lifetime supporter who was considered a “permanent fixture” at the annual retirement party.

“Many guys just went to the dinner to talk to RC,” said Union Local President Mark Pitcher. “I never personally had the opportunity to work for Chief Clark, but those that did said he was tough, but he was always great to help out, get you going in the right direction and an absolute joy to work with.”

Clark is survived by his wife, Marva, two sons, Curtis and Bryan, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Work begins on Hitt Road, intersection with Sunnyside

DePatco Inc. is starting work today on Hitt Road and the intersection of Sunnyside and Hitt.

The $2.2 million project involves widening Hitt Road to four lanes, putting a center turn lane half a mile south of the intersection Sunnyside Road, and adding new left-turn and right-turn lanes at each approach to the intersection. There also will be improvements to traffic signals and street lights. Work is expected to be finished in July.

In order to maintain safety, DePatco will reduce traffic to one lane in each direction when necessary and perform construction activities during non-peak traffic hours.

The Idaho Falls Power contractor, Track Utilities, is beginning pole placement work as well. While the majority of the work will occur away from the paved surface, motorists are encouraged to honor construction warning signs and watch for hazards or changes in construction conditions.

The project is being driven by the Sandcreek Commons shopping center, where Cabella's is expected to open this spring. Hobby Lobby, another anchor tenant, and Mountain America Credit Union have received building permits from the Ammon Building Department.

Construction questions can be directed to DePatco at (208) 458-4000 or the city of Idaho Falls Public Works Division at (208) 612-8250