Thursday, October 8, 2015

Post Register to be sold to Minneapolis-based company

The Post Co. of Idaho Falls announced Wednesday that it is being bought by Adams Publishing Group, a media chain based in St. Louis Park, Minn., and owned by a billionaire investor with interests in billboards, wine, banks and recreational vehicles.

The sale will include the Post Register as well as three weekly newspapers: the Shelley Pioneer, Jefferson Star and Challis Messenger. It is expected to be finalized Nov. 1. A sale price was not disclosed.

Adams Publishing owns dozens of newspapers, shoppers and magazines in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maryland and Ohio. The acquisition of the Post Register represents a continuation of an expansion into the West, as the company recently bought four newspapers in Wyoming, in Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins and Rock Springs. The Adams family also owns radio stations, an outdoor advertising company and Camping World/Good Sam, which opened a location in Idaho Falls earlier this year.

For more information about the company's chairman, Stephen Adams, follow this link from the Stanford GSB Experience of Feb. 1, 2006: Stephen Adams Honored with 2006 Arbuckle Award.

The sale marks the end of 90-plus years of ownership by the Brady family. Company President Jerry Brady, 79, told employees this summer he felt he had nothing more to add to the company. Although the decision was difficult, he was convinced selling the company was the right thing to do, he said.

Brady and his brother, Jack, own about two-thirds of the company. The remaining is owned by employees (and ex-employees, including me) through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

“We think we’ve found the best deal out there,” Brady wrote in a July letter to employees. “It would provide enough money to retire all debts, allowing us to go forward debt-free and to make a distribution to (employee) owners.”

“We’re very excited to have the Post Register Company’s group of newspapers and digital products join our company going forward,” Stephen Adams said in a statement. “The Brady family has a long history of providing strong journalism in the state of Idaho. It’s our goal to continue their tradition of locally focused, community-driven editorial and reporting.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

New sales manager named for Home2Suites in Idaho Falls

Kiersten Landers
Home2Suites by Hilton, owned and operated by B&T Hospitality Management, has named Kiersten Sedlmayr Landers as the Idaho Falls hotel’s new sales manager.

With a degree in business management and entrepreneurship from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Landers has more than 10 years of corporate sales experience, six of them in Idaho Falls with such companies as Sand Hill Media and Signature Party Rental.

B&T General Manager Megan Dodd cited Landers’ reputation, experience, love of business and desire to build lasting relationships as the reasons why she was put in charge of sales for the extended-stay hotel at Snake River Landing, which opened in September. As sales manager, Landers will be responsible for revenue growth, marketing efforts and community outreach.

The new hotel offers easy access to technology and community spaces, as well as the trademark Home2 Suites amenities, such as a business center with free Internet; indoor saline swimming pool; combined laundry and fitness area; and complimentary continental breakfast. It also features outdoor living areas with grills and a fire pit for guests’ use. All Home2 Suites properties are also pet-friendly.

Monday, October 5, 2015

New gallery open in downtown Idaho Falls

Artist Marko Marino at his new gallery.
Idaho Falls’ downtown district has a new showcase for art, the Marko Marino Studio Gallery, across Park Avenue from the Celt Pub.

Artist Mark Marino, known as Marko to his friends, arrived in Idaho Falls in January 2014 and has been busy ever since. He has already had three one-man shows, the first at the Republic American Grill in November 2014, where he presented a large body of oil and watercolor wildlife and landscape works including a monumental commission piece that saw its only public display. The second was at Black Rock in May, where he unveiled a series of portrait and figurative works. The third was at the Villa Coffee House, where he showcased more than 40 field sketches, in pastel, charcoal, and watercolor, of his most recent Alaskan expedition depicting northern wildlife and landscapes.

The new gallery is located on the northwest corner of Broadway and Park Avenue, where the American Family Insurance office used to be (people who go back to the ‘80s will remember the location as Farmer’s Daughter).

“As soon as I saw this amazing storefront I realized that this is the location for my new business,” he said, adding that the building’s owner, the Downtown Development Association, Bank of Idaho and other downtown businesses have been very supportive.

Since opening in September, the gallery has showcased work by Peggy Judy, an acclaimed contemporary Western horse artist; Robert Moore, a landscape painter who works in thick impasto technique; David Mensing, another landscape painter; Kathy Burgraff, who specializes in oil and mixed media with a contemporary flavor; and Terry Crane, a painter of portraits and figures.

Papa Murphy's files plan for Ammon store

Knowing how hungry people here are for news about new restaurants, we’re always on the lookout for it during our weekly visits to the Idaho Falls and Ammon building department offices. It’s not every week we see names like Popeye’s or Panera on the white board (Ammon) or in the three-ring binder (Idaho Falls), but we do our best.

This week, we can report that Papa Murphy’s Take ’N’ Bake Pizza is moving into Ammon, at 1360 17th Street, roughly across the road from Kmart. The plans call for development of 2,434 square feet. Clayton Myers, the company’s local contact person, said they hope to have it open by December.

This will be the third Papa Murphy’s in the Idaho Falls-Ammon area. The chain also has stores in Rexburg, Blackfoot and Pocatello. Worldwide, with more than 1,425 stores in 38 states, Canada and United Arab Emirates, the 34-year-old company has established itself as the largest Take 'N' Bake pizza company in the world and the fifth-largest pizza company.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Napa Auto Parts building new store

NAPA Auto Parts has broken ground on a new store at 2517 North Holmes Avenue, to replace its longtime location on East Anderson near C-A-L Ranch Store.

The plans call for a 10,584-square foot building on 1.165 acres of land. The store on Anderson is owned by Jake Dyson. Valuation of the project, according to the Idaho Falls Building Department, is $750,000.

NAPA has nearly 6,000 stores and is a subsidiary of Genuine Auto Parts, a company founded in 1928 and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. For a would-be owner, the company requires at least $75,000 to $150,000 in liquid capital available. According to the Web page, the average total new store investment is approximately $600,000, with the overall investment varying on the basis of market and store size. There are no franchise fees or royalties, but owners are asked to participate in the company’s national advertising program to maximize the true benefit of the NAPA system and drive traffic to their stores.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

After tumultuous year, Double Down closes doors

Double Down's owners announced Monday it was closing.
Double Down, 3078 Outlet Boulevard, has closed its doors, its owners saying they can't stay in business now that an Idaho Supreme Court ruling has made historical racing machines illegal.

Melissa Bernard, who ran the establishment with her husband, Jim, told East Idaho News they’d invested more than $3 million dollars since opening in 2014, the year the Idaho Legislature made historical racing machines legal. “Unfortunately, when historical racing was pulled, it was no longer feasible to remain in operation,” she said.

Historical racing machines came front and center earlier this year in the Idaho Legislature after drawing the ire of anti-gambling forces and Native American tribes, the latter regarding the machines to be competition to what they offer at their reservation casinos.

A historical racing machine works like this: When a player makes a wager, 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.

While early versions of the terminals looked like self-serve wagering terminals, 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.

Once the similarity to slot machines became common knowledge, legislators began pushing for a repeal of 2014's House Bill 220, which had made the machines legal.  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, and the Senate’s 19-16 subsequent vote to override him fell five votes short. While he then called for a moratorium on any new instant racing machines, Senate leaders took more direct action, entering statements into the official record that they had failed to receive the veto within the five days required by law.

In a unanimous decision Sept. 10, the Supreme Court ruled that Otter had essentially botched the veto. Otter told the Idaho Statesman he was “disappointed” in the ruling and maintained that his actions were legal. “While I disagree with (the) ruling, I will continue working toward a solution that ensures a viable live horse racing industry in Idaho,” he said.

All this will be too late for Double Down and its 70 employees. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

DOE cleanup contractors receive six-month extensions

A scene from inside the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project, where transuranic legacy waste is characterized and readied for disposal.
The two contractors taking care of waste cleanup at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho site got six-month extensions this week, amounting to $179 million in work.

Idaho Treatment Group (ITG), which is running the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project, and CH2M-WG Idaho (CWI), which is running the Idaho Cleanup Project, will both remain on the job while DOE moves toward awarding and transitioning to a new ICP Core contract. Both of their contracts had been scheduled to end today. The extension will allow cleanup to continue without interruption as DOE evaluates bid packages for a new cleanup contract.

The CWI contract extension is valued at approximately $114 million, while the ITG extension is valued at approximately $65 million. CWI was first awarded the ICP contract in March 2005, while ITG received the Mixed Waste contract in October 2011.

Under its contract, CWI is responsible for:

  • Treatment and disposal of radioactive waste
  • Retrieval, disposal and other remediation related to buried waste
  • Safe management of spent nuclear fuel
  • Disposition of nuclear materials
  • Environmental remediation activities
  • Sodium bearing waste processing activities

ITG’s contract dictates that it will safely and compliantly:

  • Characterize, certify, package and store transuranic waste offsite disposal
  • Disposition mixed low-level waste at an appropriate treatment and/or disposal facility
  • Retrieve stored waste from the Transuranic Storage Area-Retrieval Enclosure.
  • Complete upgrades to the Waste Treatment Facility