Monday, July 16, 2018

Strip mall going in behind 17th Street Dutch Bros

Construction of a strip mall in the ShopKo parking lot, behind the 17 Street Dutch Bros.
We had a question over the weekend from one of our faithful readers, Julia Townsend, about the building going up behind the Dutch Bros on 17th Street.

I wish we had something more exciting to report, but it is a 4,718-square-foot strip mall that’s going up as part of the Dutch Bros development. The site plan was filed with the Idaho Falls Building Department in April, but approved on July 3, which is why we’ve only been seeing action in the last two weeks.

The owner is listed as Needles Eye Holding of Eagle, and the architect is HB Architecture of Nampa.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

U.S. Chamber of Commerce report projects tariffs' effects on Idaho exports

Over the years, the State of Idaho has spent millions of dollars cultivating exports of everything from dehydrated potatoes to pumice to computer chips. In the midst of projecting what the effects of the emerging trade war might be, here comes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with a state-by-state breakdown.

The article’s headline, “Trade Works. Tariffs Don’t” sums up the view of the chamber (which I might add is hardly a hotbed of liberalism).

Canada has targeted $104 million for higher tariffs, including preparations for perfuming and deodorizing rooms ($19 million), fungicides ($16 million) and sauces, mixed condiments and seasonings ($15 million).

Mexico has targeted $36 million in Idaho products, including potatoes ($15 million exported annually), cheese ($14 million) and iron and steel ($2.7 million).

China has targeted $42 million in Idaho exports, including whey and modified whey ($36 million), dried and shelled peas ($3.8 million) and “products of natural milk constituents” ($2.2 million).

Europe has targeted dried kidney beans and white pea beans ($8.2 million), cold rolled tubes and pipes ($192,000), and iron or steel tanks over 300 liter capacity ($131,000).

Overall, the chamber report estimates 202,200 Idaho jobs are supported by trade, and that new tariffs threaten $190,732,525 in exports. We might also consider that farm equipment is going to be a lot more expensive, since the price of steel has risen 40 percent since January. And the bond your city passed to build that new school? The bids from contractors are likely to come in a lot higher now.

For a more detailed breakdown, follow this link: https://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/tariff_data/one_pagers/id.pdf

Monday, July 9, 2018

1 Fine Cafe opening at old Babe's Bakery location

Remodeling inside the 1 Fine Cafe location on Channing Way.
Babe’s Bakery is gone, but it looks like its longtime location at 1900 Channing Way is soon going to be the home of 1 Fine Cafe. They are shooting for a Sept. 1 opening.

The operators are billing it as a fast casual restaurant offering dishes that feature their handcrafted breads. “Fast casual” means customers order at the counter and have their food and drink delivered to their tables. Wine and beer will be sold. There will be a designated floor person providing service to patrons by making sure their needs/wants (water and coffee refills, plate clearing, condiment fetching, etc.) are met.

This is from their Facebook page: “The cool twist to the cafe is customers (adults included) are encouraged to draw, sketch, or paint on provided paper canvases that cover the tables and easels placed around the restaurant. The art media will include colored and graphite pencils, crayons, and watercolor paints (easels only). Aprons will be provided to protect clothing. The idea is for people to do something interesting and fun while they wait for their food. There will be a wall displaying some of the art that customers complete.”

There will be breads, danish, and sweets for retail sale. The menus are available for review at http://www.1finecafe.com. Menus are subject to change and will vary with the seasons, with lighter fare in spring and summer, more comfort food in the fall and winter. For more information, call (970) 389-9569.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Idaho Falls Power to hold program at Museum of Idaho

Idaho Falls Power will be at the Museum of Idaho Friday to promote electricity with demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The demonstrations will highlight how electricity is generated, specifically hydroelectricity, and how electrical circuits work.

Idaho Falls Power is currently sponsoring the Museum of Idaho’s Discover Steampunk Mary Shelley Gallery that focuses on electricity. This exhibit which features the work of Frankenstein (celebrating its 200th anniversary) by Mary Shelley with interactive stations highlighting amperage, voltage, and magnetism, the electrical principles essential to Shelley’s work and the electrophysiology, which inspired Victor Frankenstein to pass electrical current through his creation to give it life.

The Discover Steampunk exhibit focuses on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics) content, interactivity, and historic artifacts on loan from the Franklin Institute. This exhibit invites visitors on a re-imagined journey, where they can learn about the convergence of science, art, technology, and history. In addition, the exhibition excites visitors to pursue their passions and work together to create a better future.

Idaho Falls Power has a limited number of tickets available for the museum this weekend.
If anyone has questions or for free tickets, contact IFP at 208-612-8436.

Friday, June 29, 2018

New director named for Idaho Falls Power

Bear Prairie
The Idaho Falls City Council voted unanimously Thursday to appoint Bear Prairie as the new general manager of Idaho Falls Power.


Prairie has worked for Idaho Falls Power since 2010, and his latest role has been as assistant general manager. With more than 20 years of experience in the energy industry, Prairie started his career in energy at the Idaho Power Co. in Boise.  He has extensive experience and expertise in commodity trading and management of a broad range of energy products.

"(In) his role as assistant general manager for IFP, Mr. Prairie has been professionally prepared to step in and lead the utility," Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper said. "He is eminently qualified to lead any energy utility in the county and we are very fortunate that he has chosen to continue his career here with us.”

Prairie has helped manage the daily operation of Idaho Falls Power’s four hydroelectric dams, 450 miles of distribution lines and service to over 28,000 customers including a fiber optic communication business. He was also responsible for the utility’s long rage power supply planning, power operations, resource development and risk management.

The city has set his annual salary at $225,000. Prairie will take over from the longtime general manger, Jackie Flowers, who is departing to take leadership of Tacoma Public Utilities in Washington. Her last day with Idaho Falls Power will be July 20.

“I am humbled to be chosen to fill Jackie’s shoes. She has provided great leadership to the team and vision to the utility,” Prairie said.  “I plan to continue to listen to the community, as she did, so we are well positioned to continue delivering services.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Flowers announces she is leaving Idaho Falls Power for job in Tacoma, Wash.

Jackie Flowers
I don’t think I’m alone when I say the best thing Jared Fuhriman may have done as mayor of Idaho Falls was hiring Jackie Flowers to run Idaho Falls Power, the city-owned utility.

Flowers, who came from Sheridan, Wyo., in July 2006, has tendered her resignation and is headed to Tacoma, Wash., to become that city’s director of public utilities. Her last day at Idaho Falls Power will be July 20. The move came as no surprise to anyone. Her youngest child, Mary, graduated from Idaho Falls High School this year. Considering her talent and reputation, I imagine there were a lot of bigger cities courting her.

“Jackie has not only served the utility well, she also served the community as president of the board for Partnership for Science and Technology, as a board member for EIRMC and as president of the Rotary Club,” said Mayor Rebecca Casper, in a press release. “(Her) tenure here at the city was one of great accomplishment and our city is a better place for her years of service. She will be missed by many throughout the community.”

Flowers led the utility in several major structural rebuilds, including the old lower plant, the dredging of sedimentation at the upper plant, as well as the advanced metering infrastructure upgrade. On her watch the utility accomplished these major renovations under budget and without significant disruptions in service to customers.

Idaho Falls Power also paid off major 30-year bonds in 2015, the same year the utility celebrated its 115-year anniversary. In 2017, the utility achieved RP3 status, an elite award for public power utilities celebrating reliability and safety.

The last 12 years have seen dramatic changes in electrical power distribution. One of Flowers’ first initiatives when she arrived was persuading the community to pass $26 million in bonds to fund Idaho Falls’ share in a new coal-fired plant, IPP-3, being planned near Delta, Utah. The effort was being led by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), a power wholesaling consortium in which Idaho Falls takes part. The concern at the time was for reliable baseload power, because Idaho Falls’ longstanding relationship with the Bonneville Power Administration was changing. Power for shaving peaks in the summer months was needed, and the concern was for avoiding high prices on the open market.

Idaho Falls voters approved the bonds, but IPP-3 ended up never getting built. Because of wind and solar coming onto the grid, the concern has been less with big baseload producers and more with balancing load with power that can be ramped up and scaled down fast, one reason for natural gas' ascendency. Eastern Idaho got a good lesson in balancing with the power outage of December 2013, which left a lot of people shivering in the cold for hours.

That was when Idaho Falls started talking to INL about studying microgrids and “islanding,” looking for ways to incorporate its run-of-river hydro with other sources to guarantee reliability when things get sketchy. With Idaho Falls Power and UAMPS, which she headed as president, Flowers has lent support for the small modular reactor NuScale is planning to have up and running at the Department of Energy’s Idaho site by the middle of the next decade. This is something the whole world is going to be watching.

One of the important roles Flowers helped fill was to develop a solid leadership team through training, development and involvement in leadership roles in industry organizations, with a strong focus on succession planning for the organization.

“It has been my privilege to work with the talented team at Idaho Falls Power as we have together served the citizens of Idaho Falls,” Flowers said in her letter. “You have a very talented, dedicated team of professionals … who take great pride in their work and in the fact that they continue the legacy of electric service to our community.”

Casper is expected to nominate a replacement for Flowers and to ask the City Council to approve the appointment at the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting.



Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Kirkham named REDI CEO

Dana Kirkham
Regional Economic Development Inc. (REDI) for Eastern Idaho has named former Ammon Mayor Dana Kirkham as its new chief executive officer. Kirkham had been the organization's Science, Technology and Research director since September 2017, and is replacing Jan Rogers, who is retiring as her three-year contract expires.

"My experience working on behalf of Eastern Idaho and growing the region's economy as STAR Director will enable me to move seamlessly into the CEO position," Kirkham said in a news release from the organization. "REDI will continue to promote economic development and market the region to ensure economic growth in the years ahead."

REDI chairman Park Price said Kirkham is a natural successor. "During her time as STAR Director, Dana has demonstrated she is a quick study and a trusted leader. She has the full and enthusiastic support of the board," Price said in the release.

REDI represents 14 counties in eastern Idaho and is focused on job growth, industry retention and business development.