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

Monday, September 28, 2015

DOE offers help to small businesses developing clean energy products

Small businesses developing clean energy technologies are now able to compete for funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is offering $20 million in vouchers to help clean-energy entrepreneurs and small businesses get their products to market.

Idaho National Laboratory has partnered with Ames and Oak Ridge national laboratories to assist with outreach, merit reviews and selection of proposals. The INL-Ames-Oak Ridge team was recently selected as one of five pilot teams implementing the Small Business Voucher Pilot Program, which is part of EERE's Lab Impact Initiative. The team has jointly received the largest of the five awards, which together total $20 million.

The vouchers are intended to help U.S.-based and U.S.-owned small businesses that are developing clean-energy technologies in advanced manufacturing, buildings, vehicles, wind, water, bio-energy, fuel cells, geothermal and solar.

EERE released the first call for small business requests for assistance today. More information – including how to submit applications online – is at

Vouchers of $50,000 to $300,000 per small business will be awarded to initiate collaborative research projects, provide technical assistance and facilitate third-party validation. INL can provide unique materials, prototyping, technology testing and validation, engineering designs, and scale-up of samples. The selected businesses must provide 20 percent matching funds or in-kind services.

Three cycles of competitions will be offered to small businesses through 2016, and DOE estimates more than 100 businesses will receive funds.

Other labs participating in the pilot program are National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Idaho Falls council names new municipal services director

Pamela Alexander
The Idaho Falls City Council has named a new municipal services director, Pamela Alexander of Mesa, Ariz., who will take the job Nov. 2.

Alexander succeeds Craig Rockwood, who is retiring after working for the city  29 years. The appointment was made at Thursday night’s City Council meeting and follows a search process that involved five finalists.

Alexander’s annual salary in her new position will be $110,000.

Alexander is a certified public manager who received her certificate from Arizona State University in 2006. She currently works as a senior fiscal analyst for the city of Mesa’s Development and Sustainability Department, a position she has held since 2013. Prior to that, she worked as budget coordinator for the city of Mesa Police Dept., where she managed a $150 million budget, coordinated capital improvement programs, managed purchasing functions and developed financial analysis and forecasting of operational funds. From 2007 to 2010, she worked as a budget coordinator for the city of Mesa, and was charged with coordinating the city’s five-year capital
improvement program of over $1 billion.

Idaho Falls’ selection committee consisted of city staff, department directors and council members, as well as a finance executive from a local business and a finance director from a neighboring city.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Salon h.Davis holding annual charity cut-a-thon

Salon h.davis, 2450 E. 25th St., Suite B, is holding its annual charity cut-a-thon Sept. 26 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The fund-raiser will feature $10 haircuts and the opportunity to receive a blow dry and style for an additional $5. All payments for services will be donated directly to the Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen.

“Individuals and families of all backgrounds rely on the hot meal that the Soup Kitchen provides year-round,” salon owner Niki Young said. “I love how the organization treats those they help with dignity, and we want to do our part to make sure that this valuable organization has the food and supplies to help those in need.”

Anyone interest in participating but unable to attend the event can make a donation during regular business hours, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call 523-1208 or visit

DB's getting makeover, new name

Here's the scene at DB's one night in 2014. With the remodel, the wood paneling is gone, the stage is bigger and the drum riser is higher.
A fixture on First Street for more than 30 years, DB's Steakhouse is getting a makeover and a new name.

Shawn Barry, who is leasing the property, said he plans to rename the establishment The Falls and give it more of a nightclub atmosphere. The stage has been expanded and remodeled, with a taller drum riser. The walls have been painted black, and there will be less of a rustic feel overall.

Barry won't be presenting acts himself, but working instead with outfits like Metal Shield Promotions, which is putting on a show Oct. 3. The bill features Doyle, the guitarist from the horror punk band The Misfits, as well as The Family Run, Hatchet and Gutter and the Onslaught. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door, and available in Idaho Falls at Shadow Domain. Online, they can be bought at

Old-timers know DB's was originally called Debbie's Brother, and owned by Wes and Roxanne Smith (who now run, respectively, The Blue Wave and the North Hi-Way Cafe). These were the legendary days of "Power Hour." An expansion took place in the '90, with a stage and dance floor added.

Although the grill will remain front-and-center at the bar, Barry said he is unsure what he wants to do about food at the new establishment. To check on events that are coming up, follow this link: DB's events.