Thursday, August 30, 2012

Photographer offers specials, hopes to recover hard drive

Melissa Bristol with her sons, Mikey, 10 and Leighton, 5
There's been a lot of talk this week about the challenges women face, so I'd like to offer a story of someone I know: a single mother of two who's trying to realize her dream as a photographer while struggling with some stubborn health issues.

Right now, Melissa Bristol's immediate concern is getting the money together to restore her hard drive. It crashed Monday, taking with it hundreds of photos she'd been editing for customers. The photos are recoverable, but it's going to cost hundreds of dollars.

To raise some cash, she's offering some specials:

  • Senior Photos: $30 for a one-hour session, a disc of all the photos, and up to 10 edits
  • Family Photos: $50 a session for up to four people, a disc of all the photos, and up to 10 edits; $10 extra for a collage
  • Back to School: $20 for three basic photos, $10 extra for a collage

Melissa is the mother of two boys -- Mikey, 10, and Leighton, 5 -- and is in between jobs. She is hoping to find something that allows her flexibility to spend time with her kids and build her photography business. She volunteers her time and talent to the Museum of Idaho and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. (On top of everything else, Melissa is dealing with cervical cancer, which, insurance or no insurance, is not cheap.)

I don't want to turn this into a bulletin board for hard luck cases, but she's a friend of mine and a talented young person. If anybody can help her out, I'd be glad to hear it.

Here's a link to her photo page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/?ref=hp#!/pages/Photography-By-Melissa/167038123358065

Idaho Falls Marriott Residence Inn taking reservations starting Sept. 4

There was still much to be loaded in Wednesday morning at the Idaho Falls Marriott Residence Inn.
Begun four years ago but delayed by the financial crisis that fall, the Idaho Falls Marriott Residence Inn on West Broadway is almost ready to open.

Reservations are being taken for Sept. 4 and after, according to the recording on the hotel's reservation line, (208) 542-0000.

Work on the 98,700-square-foot hotel ground to a halt in 2008, when the original developers, McNeil Development, ran into financial trouble in connection with the failure of Arkansas National Bank. Architect John Brunt of Woodbury Corp., the Salt Lake development company that took over the project, said one thing that made it easier for them to restart the project was the fact that McNeil had enclosed the building, which kept out water that might otherwise have gotten in and caused major damage.

Still, there were repairs to be made and Marriott’s standards had evolved in the time the project was in limbo. Once the six-story hotel is finished, Brunt said the estimated cost will top $20 million.

The hotel has 108 guest rooms, two meeting rooms, a large exercise room and pool. “There’s a lot more common area than a typical Marriott Residence Inn,” Brunt said, earlier this year. Although the exterior is in keeping with the other buildings of the Taylor Crossing development (a style Brunt described as “eclectic classical”), the interior will be more modern and streamlined. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Love at First Bite to expand in new location

The sweets counter at Love at First Bite
Love at First Bite, a locally owned sweets and gift company, is expanding its presence at Snake River Landing, nearly doubling the size of the store by relocating to the riverfront corner of 901 Pier View Drive.

Owners Juli Richards and Madalyn Luthy, who set up shop in 2010, are planning to hold a grand opening in October. They are going to expand the store's offerings to include specialty olive oils and balsamic vinegars, bottled for customers under the Twig and Vine Olive Oil Co. label.

Love at First Bite carries a variety of gourmet cupcakes, home d├ęcor, gifts, chocolates, truffles, roasted almonds, fudge, toffee, and specialty dipped apples.

Store hours will remain Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The current location will remain open during construction of the new store. For more information about Love at First Bite visit

Local businesses aid family with fund-raiser for medical costs

Dickie's BBQ, Snake River Landing have volunteered to help the Aaron Webb family with a fund-raiser to help cover his medical costs. Webb, a self-employed entrepreneur, lacks health insurance but urgently needs a bone-marrow transplant. For more information on the plight of him and his family, visit www.aaronraywebb.blogspot.com.

BizMojo wants to hear from you; here are some tips for telling your story

Given the number of press releases I have seen in my lifetime, I can offer a few suggestions on how to write one that's effective.

Why am I addressing this topic? Because, in order that I may keep this blog as current and full of information as possible, I want to see press releases. Although I can whittle a pageful of words down to three, two or even one paragraph, I'd prefer what comes into my in-box to be well-written and to the point.

Here are a few tips:

Proofread your work before you send it in. I have corrected plenty of spelling and grammar mistakes, but extra care in this department means you really care about your cause or business. Go over what you’ve written a few times, and then let someone else read it. 
(Note: There are a lot of people less tolerant of this than I am.)

Don't try to load your copy with keywords. I know a lot of people are obsessed with search engine optimization, but a story loaded with verbiage is more likely to get tossed. My dad used to have a card above his Olympia typewriter that said "Omit That Fat!" Great advice for any writer. Also, you might be interested to know that Google is far more likely to reward something that reads like it was written by a literate human than something that's trying to push its buttons.

Keep the sales language to a minimum. Commercials and ads are designed to sell. The purpose of a press release is to inform.

Keep your quantity in check. Familiarity breeds contempt, so if you send too many releases you're going to be dismissed out of hand. If someone gets a promotion, if there's a new hire or someone receives an award, we want to know about it. If someone has done an exceptional job of keeping his desk clean, it's not news. Unless of course it's me.

Keep it newsy. Who, what, when, where and how.

Avoid jargon. When was the last time you turned to the dictionary while you were reading a paper or browsing the Web? Do you think anyone else is?

Focus on your headline. If you've got something unique to relate, make your headline reflect it.

Anything you have to send should be sent to bizmojoidaho@gmail.com.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bonneville County makes CNN Money "Where the Jobs Are" list

It's been a while since the area made one of the "Best Places to Live" lists, but here's Bonneville County ranking No. 15 in a national "Where the Jobs Are" rundown, between Houston County, Georgia and Cass County, North Dakota.

The article cites nuclear energy, medicine, tourism and retail as the top economic drivers.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Notes from my summer vacation

When it comes to search engine optimization, this photo seems to have mysteriously strong powers. I don't understand it at all, not even a tiny bit.
As I survey the BizMojo Idaho stats (which I do every day), I've noticed that some of the posts from last year are climbing back into visibility. That leads me to suppose that there are new readers who are digging through "the vaults." This I find gratifying, because I'm on the East Coast this week and limited in my ability (or desire) to stay up on the latest business news.

This week the most-read post is http://www.bizmojoidaho.com/2011/10/two-idaho-falls-drive-in-theaters-for.html, from last October.

A little squib I wrote later that month about Idaho Falls needing an In-N-Out burger http://www.bizmojoidaho.com/2011/10/in-n-out-burger-possible-if-not.html, has racked up 132 pageviews.

Two posts about Carl's Jr., one from December and another from Februray (both now out of date), got 228 pageviews. Because a lot of traffic comes to this blog from organic search, and because one of the main search terms bringing eyeballs to this page is "juicy burger," I have to assume this is why Carl's Jr. continues to reign supreme on the BizMojo Idaho Hit Parade.

Without a doubt there's someone who knows more about this and could explain it in detail, but it would probably cost a lot of money. Not gonna happen, since the Google Gods dropped the dime on me after this smart-alecky post, http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=1127161227049840947#editor/target=post;postID=7734341763842076838, which I later adapted to Idaho Falls Magazine.

With our first anniversary approaching (Sept. 5), I'm happy this blog has gotten the acceptance it has. There's been a learning curve, which I never get tired of talking about. It has been an interesting ride -- so much like what I did in newspapers (producing fresh, engaging content nearly every day), yet totally different (when it comes to social media, the reader is way more involved in deciding what is news).

People have asked me, "Why don't you write a book?" What's interesting is that if you were to count the words I've posted in the past year there would probably be enough to fill one. If you've got the time to do that or (better yet) a computer program that will allow you to do it instantly, I'd love to know when I might be in a position to pass "War and Peace" (560,000 words) or "Atlas Shrugged (645,000 words). By the way, I actually waded through Ayn Rand's tome in 1975, mainly in an effort to impress a young woman at the University of Delaware (whose name I will not reveal).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Georgia steel company plans fabrication plant near Ucon

Cives Steel Co.'s One Lincoln Street project in Boston. The Georgia-based fabricator is hoping to have permits in place by this fall to build a 54,000-square-foot plant near Ucon, its first west of the Mississippi.
This scoop came first from our friends at http://idahofallsprojects.wordpress.com, who posted it last Thursday after looking through permit applications in the Bonneville County Planning and Zoning office.

A Georgia-based steel company called Cives Steel Co., intends to build a new fabrication plant in the Idaho Falls area. A 54,000-square-foot building will house its fabrication area and offices, and there will also be five more outbuildings, just under 5,000 square feet between them. The project will be completed in three stages.

It is estimated that the project could add up to 175 new local jobs. Cives Steel says it will be the company's first plant west of the Mississippi.

Cives Vice President John Donovan told Marissa Bodnar of Local News 8 that after nearly three years of scouting out locations in the Northwest and Southwest, they settled on Idaho Falls, largely because of the local work force and its reputation.

Cives Steel Company created the steel that supports the Hearst building in New York City and the Boston Red Sox training field in Fort Myers. For a look at all the projects they have been involved in, follow this link: http://www.civessteel.com/portfolio.

Donovan said told Bodnar the new plant will most likely go up on Yellowstone Highway near the Ucon city limit. Initially he said they expect to hire about 75 people. He said Cives is hoping to have land and permit approvals by mid-September and the foundation poured by mid-October. If the weather cooperates, they could be producing steel by the first of the year, he said.

Here is a link to the video from Local News 8: http://www.localnews8.com/news/Steel-plant-to-bring-150-plus-jobs-to-eastern-Idaho/-/308662/16203446/-/13kcsbs/-/index.html

SpeedConnect LLC names managers

Donna Nims
Tom Carey
Tom Carey and Donna Nims have joined SpeedConnect LLC, a new high-speed wireless Internet service provider with regional headquarters in Idaho Falls.

Carey is technical operations manager for the state. His background includes extended tenures at DigitalBridge Communications and Teton Wireless, where he led teams to construct more than 65 WiMAX transmission sites in 15 markets, as well as developing standardized processes for site selection and construction. He is heading up SpeedConnect's efforts in Idaho for mission critical network operations, centralized warehouse systems, and technician recruitment, training and management, in addition to new technology deployments and network expansion.

Nims is the general manager for Idaho.  She has years of experience in the wireless broadband industry, beginning with the launch of Wavepath in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1990s. She has also worked in sales, marketing, product management and web technologies, with a special focus on channel development at Concentric Network and DigitalBridge Communications.

SpeedConnect has been in the high-speed wireless Internet business since 2001, providing services in Iowa, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Eastern Idaho joblessness continues to decline

The employment news for Idaho from July was about the best in the nation -- only Idaho and Rhode Island posted declines in their jobless rates -- and eastern Idaho's numbers were even better.

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped another two-tenths of a percentage point, falling to a three-year low of 7.5 percent. In the Idaho Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area the rate dropped from 6.7 in June to 6.2 percent, down from 7.3 percent in July 2011. Rexburg posted a jobless rate in July of 5.3 percent, down from 6 percent in June and 6.5 percent in July 2011.

Idaho’s rate, which has been lower than the national rate since September 2001, has fallen dramatically during the past year from a post-recession high of 8.9 percent in July 2011. Despite employment slipping slightly, there were still over 19,000 more Idahoans at work in July than a year earlier while the number out of work dropped again to 58,600 – 9,700 fewer than in July 2011 and the lowest number of unemployed in three years.

New hires were at their highest rate for a July since 2007, although these new hires overwhelmingly filled jobs that had been held by people who retired or left for some other reason. The replacement factor in the jobs picture will increase as more and more  baby-boomers decide to take their pensions.

The Conference Board, a Washington, D.C. business think tank, estimated fewer than five unemployed workers for every two posted job openings in Idaho, the first time that ratio has been that low since late 2008. At the peak of the recession in late 2009, there were nine unemployed workers for every two posted job openings in the state.

Only 10 rural counties recorded double-digit unemployment rates in July, unchanged from June but down from 17 in July 2011. The highest rate was 17.3 percent in resource-dependent Adams County, up over a point from June but over two points lower than in July 2011.

Here's a breakdown of July 2012 unemployment for all eastern Idaho counties:

Bingham: 6.2 percent
Bonneville: 6.2 percent
Butte: 5.8 percent
Clark: 7.0 percent
Custer: 7.1 percent
Fremont: 6.5 percent
Jefferson: 6.3 percent
Lemhi: 10.3 percent
Madison: 4.9 percent
Teton: 6.5 percent

Friday, August 17, 2012

Idaho Falls to start free text, e-mail service to public

Starting Monday, the city of Idaho Falls will begin offering free 24 hour city news alerts, designed to keep citizens informed and up to date.

“(This) is just another example where Idaho Falls is leading the way in governmental transparency and accountability," said Mayor Jared Fuhriman.

The new subscriber service will allow anyone interested to receive daily city updates and press releases, city calendar events, emergency notifications and weekly newsletters, delivered directly to their e-mail in-box or text-capable devices.

To subscribe, one needs only to forward their phone number (for texts) or e-mail (for e-mail alerts) or both to the Idaho Falls Public Information Office. They can be reached by calling 208-612-8122 or by e-mail at bhuerta@idahofallsidaho.gov.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

'Hey, I saw you on TV ... "

In case you missed me Monday night on Local News 8 doing my best impression of an informed observer of local business development, here's a link: http://www.localnews8.com/news/Idaho-Falls-Ammon-see-upswing-in-retail-development/-/308662/16099336/-/agoffh/-/index.html.

It is worth noting that after this aired on the 10 o'clock news, my number of pageviews on Tuesday was more than double its previous high. Even though I'm an old print dog, I've learned to be "platform agnostic." I'm willing to take a story to print, web, radio or TV. It's pretty obvious that TV packs a lot of clout.

Thanks to Marissa Bodnar, who called me about doing an interview. Considering the number of eyeballs that little segment brought to this blog, let me quote the Marvelettes' "Beechwood 4-5789" and say, "You can call me up and have a date any old time."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Taste of Idaho poster offers Costco hint

A Taste of Idaho is Thursday evening, and I'd encourage anyone who likes food, sunshine and music to head down to Snake River Landing between 6 and 9 to experience the magic.

I'm posting the poster, however, because I noticed Costco Wholesale among the sponsors' logos at the bottom. You may read into this whatever you choose. If there is any news, I expect it to break next week while I am on the East Coast visiting my mother. This is what happened with Olive Garden. I got a call on my cell phone about it while I was on the ski lift at Grand Targhee during spring break.

Authors to sign books at zoo Saturday

The Tautphaus Park Zoo is now a selling a “Green Kids Club” book series, and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the authors will be available to autograph copies at the Tautphaus Park Zoo.

According to the Green Kids Club Web site (http://www.green-kids-club.com/), “The series was developed as a utility to teach children the importance of protecting habitats to sustain ecosystems, animal life and ultimately human life.” The books are written by local authors, Sylvia Medina and Saige Ballock-Dixon and illustrated by Joy Eagle.

“The Green Kids Club books and the mission of the Tautphaus Park Zoo really do go hand in hand.” said Beth Rich, zoo superintendent. “The zoo is dedicated to conservation and education on wildlife and wild places so these books help support our goals and mission very nicely.”

Monday, August 13, 2012

Business Review seeks Woman of the Year nominees

The Idaho Business Review (to which I occasionally contribute) is seeking nominees for its Woman of the Year award. Nominations are open through Dec. 1, with a banquet to follow in February 2013.

This will be the second year for the award, which seeks to honor women from the public, private, and charitable business sectors, focusing on both the accomplishments and struggles that have contributed to their unique experiences.

Highlighting work ethics, innovation and balance, the IBR honors 50 of the nominees at an awards dinner, which will be held Feb. 26 at the Riverside Hotel in Boise. The winner's name will be announced at the event. All honorees will be profiled in a special magazine, which will be available to subscribers and people attending the banquet.

Among the honorees earlier this year, there was at least one from eastern Idaho, Lorena Murdock of Bonneville Joint School District 93. Anyone wishing to make a nomination can go to this link: http://idahobusinessreview.com/events/woy/nominate/http://idahobusinessreview.com/events/woy/nominate/

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sarah's Candy Cottage owners to open Boise store

Mike Swendsen and Liz Yasaitis of Sarah's Candy Cottage 
Plenty of people would say you can never have too much chocolate, which is something Mike Swendsen understands.

Swendsen and his daughter, Liz Yasaitis, who own Sarah's Candy Cottage in Idaho Falls, are opening a new store, Saroli Chocolat, in Boise later this month. "It's a capacity issue," he said. "We make more chocolate here than we can sell. When you consider that the population base here is 80,000 and the population base in the Boise area is over 800,000, it makes sense to expand there."

Saroli Chocolat will be at 755 W. Broad Street, in the BoDo District, across the street from the Edwards Downtown Stadium 9. The property is being remodeled in the style of the Woodruff Avenue store in Idaho Falls. It is about 800 square feet, compared to 1,500 in Idaho Falls. "We didn't need any manufacturing space there, so a smaller space would do," Swendsen said.

The chocolate used at Sarah's comes in slabs from Belgium. While Boise has a few good chocolate stores, Swendsen said their artisanal approach should set them apart. "This is more like something you would find in Belgium," he said.

In addition to chocolate, Sarah's offers more varieties of licorice that most people can imagine, a huge selection of what used to be called "penny candy," and Gelatto.

Since Sarah's began in 1998, its policy has been to give each customer a free truffle or piece of fudge. This will be the same at Saroli. "We want people to have a good experience when they come in," Swendsen said.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

GM invests in INL spinoff company, NanoSteel

Earlier this summer we wrote about NanoSteel, a company with its roots in the Idaho National Laboratory and its research and development office in Idaho Falls. NanoSteel has developed an alloy that can be used in the fabrication of lightweight steel, critical to automakers in achieving higher fuel efficiencies and meeting rigorous new U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

This week, General Motors Ventures LLC announced it has invested in NanoSteel. The company joined lead shareholders EnerTech Capital and Fairhaven Capital Partners and five existing investors to complete the Series C financing round. Terms of the GM Ventures investment were not disclosed.

"Over the next several years, light-weighting of vehicles will be a major focus area to improve fuel economy," said Jon Lauckner, GM's chief technology officer, vice president of Global R&D and president of GM Ventures. "NanoSteel's nano-structured alloys offer unique material characteristics that are not available today, making them a potential game-changer."

Through the development of patented alloys, NanoSteel has created a new class of steel that allows automotive engineers and designers to reduce weight through the use of thinner, higher strength gauges while maintaining the structural integrity needed for safety. NanoSteel's new steel design is an alternative to other light-weighting materials which may cost more, require new investment in parts production and have performance limitations.

"GM Ventures investment in NanoSteel demonstrates its confidence in our company's potential to achieve widespread impact on the auto industry through our proprietary steel designs," said Dave Paratore, president and CEO of NanoSteel.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

ISU Credit Union breaks ground on Sunnyside Road branch

ISU Credit Union has broken ground on its sixth full-service branch location, at 2255 E. Sunnyside Road. When it opens in 2013, it will be the credit union's second full-service Idaho Falls location.
The branch will do away with teller lines and windows and replace them with what are called "teller pods," designed so there is less of a barrier between the customer and the teller and allowing the customer to see everything that takes place during a transaction.

"The idea is to automate the actual banking transaction and focus more on personal relationships," said President/CEO Robert Taylor, in a news release. "It helps us connect with our members, so they know they're more than just a transaction to us."

More information is available at www.isucu.net.

Fishing pond dedication set for Friday morning

Kids fishing at Idaho Falls' Ryder Park. 

The Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation Department and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will be hosting the dedication of Becker Pond in Ryder Park on Friday at 11 a.m. 

Parents and kids are encouraged to bring their fishing poles and enjoy this free event. There will be a ribbon cutting and mayoral proclamation, the dedication of a plaque and remarks from dignitaries.

The pond is located at 2001 West Sunnyside Road, on the west bank of the Snake River.

Ryder Park, 57 acres south of Sunnyside Road, opened in August 2011, and Fish and Game have been stocking it with fingerling rainbow trout since then. "If you want to give your little kids a chance to catch a fish, it's a good place to start," said Brad Huerta, spokesman for the city of Idaho Falls.

The pond is named in honor of contributions made by Gerry Becker and her daughter, Emily. Her husband, Bill, and her two sons, Andy and Ben, were killed in an airplane accident seven years ago. She approached the City Council in December 2011 about having the pond named after them because of their love for fishing. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Celt grand opening set for Aug. 24-25

The grand opening of The Celt, 398 Broadway (at the corner of Park Avenue and Broadway) has been set for Aug. 24-25, featuring the Irish rock band  Swagger from Park City, Utah. There will be food, wine, cocktails and 24 beers on tap. The door open at 8 p.m.

Here's some YouTube footage of Swagger, in case you're interested:

Two new businesses apply for space in Ammon shopping center

While we may be in the summer doldrums, here are a few retail developments worth reporting, picked up during a recent visit to the Ammon City office. Select Comfort has applied for a building permit to locate a new store in the 1,500 square feet on Hitt Road formerly occupied by Diamond Gallery (in the building that also houses Rumbi Grill and Red Wing Shoes.) The company's signature product is the Sleep Number bed, an adjustable air mattress that features a "sleep number" setting that adjusts the firmness of the mattress. Going up to 100, the higher the number the firmer the mattress. Each side of full size and larger beds has its own chamber to allow for separate adjustment. There are different models of Sleep Number beds with various features, and Select Comfort has introduced a memory foam version of the Sleep Number mattress as well. Also in that building, Complete Nutrition is applying for a permit to remodel 1,477 square feet. A nutritional supplement franchiser, the company started in 2004. Stores employ personal trainers, strength coaches and other fitness professionals to help customers develop personalized programs. There is one other store in Idaho, in Twin Falls, and there are several in Montana and Utah.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Western Recycling begins curbside service in Idaho Falls

The containers being used for curbside recycling.
Western Recycling began making its first curbside pickups in Idaho Falls this morning, a program the Boise-based company announced earlier this summer.
For $5 a month ($10 for businesses), Western will supply you with your own plastic trash basket in which you can put all the recyclable paper, plastic, tin and aluminum cans you want. There is no sorting on a customer's part. Everything is baled up and taken to a sorter.
General Manager Rick Gillihan said they have signed up about 1,200 households since they announced they would be launching the program. They hope to eventually have 5,000 or more homes participating.
Although Western has participated with other contractors and municipalities in Idaho, this is their first attempt at trying it themselves. The company employs six people in Idaho Falls, and all the labor at the moment is being handled by them. "As people sign up, that will change. I anticipate we'll have to hire two drivers," he said.

Billing is conducted quarterly. The cost includes a 65- or 95-gallon container (customer's choice). Pickup will be every two weeks on the same days as regular trash pickup. Containers must be placed at least four feet away from other trash containers.
“I think (curbside recycling) is something that the people in Idaho Falls have been wanting to do,” said Craig Stephenson, Western Recycling's manager.
Idaho Falls residents can still drop off their recycling at sites located throughout the city. Western Recycling’s management hopes that if curbside recycling catches on these sites will be phased out, ultimately saving the city money.
With the Western Recycling program, no sorting is necessary. Here's what can be placed in a container: 
  • Mixed paper products: newspapers, magazines, phone books, catalogs, cardboard boxes, cereal Boxes, frozen food boxes, paper towel cores, office paper, note pads, index cards, coated paper, brochures, envelopes, manila folders and junk mail.
  • All plastic beverage, food, and household cleaner containers #1-7 (must be rinsed of contents and caps replaced).
  • Tin and aluminum cans (must be rinsed of contents).
Materials that can't be recycled include glass, plastic bags, medical waste, food waste, packaging materials (peanuts, bubble wrap, styrofoam, etc.)
Neighborhoods outside of city limits will be included in the program case by case, depending on participation levels and distance from city limits.
You can sign up by visiting Western Recycling's Web site, http://www.westernrecycling.net/index.php/curbside-recycling, or by calling 1-888-977-4733.

INL shares in triumph of Mars Rover Curiosity's landing

Curiosity's shadow on the surface of Mars, the first image sent back to Earth.
The Sunday night landing of Curiosity, the Mars rover, was a huge credit to American scientists and engineers. In case you didn't know, the power and heat source for the car-sized rover was engineered at the Idaho National Laboratory.

Here is a virtual tour of the lab's Space Battery Facility:

Think of it: The pictures and videos you are seeing from the surface of Mars are coming to your TVs, computers, smart phones and tablets courtesy of a plutonium-powered generator that was put together in your back yard.

If you can't get enough of this stuff, here is the link to Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where you can stay up-to-date: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-230.

Friday, August 3, 2012

American Idol bus arrives in Idaho Falls. Auditions begin Saturday at 9 a.m. at Snake River Landing

Sandon Wixom shared this picture on Facebook around 2:30 Friday afternoon from his office in the Rogers Building in downtown Idaho Falls.
The American Idol bus has arrived in Idaho Falls, with auditions to start Saturday at 9 a.m. at Snake River Landing, on the grass near Stockman's Restaurant.

Unlike the auditions in larger cities, there will be no pre-registration, but you will need two forms of ID that show proof of age and a photograph.

It has been a very busy week-and-a-half for Kerry McCullough of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce, who has been the AI production team's contact on this end. McCullough said they first contacted her around July 24 and that a lot of her time has been taken up with conference calls, discussing logistics.

This is the first stop on a 10-city tour, and the bus is something they have never attempted before. "We're the beta site, pretty much," she said. As of Friday morning, they had lined up five Porta-Potties and six off-duty police officers to handle security. "It's hard to gauge how many we're going to need," she said. "There is so much else going on this weekend."

There will be food vendors on site: Gandolfo's, MD Dinky Donuts, Winers, Maui Waui, That One Place and Oasis Vending.

More information is being posted on the American Idol Web site,www.americanidol.com. We'll be swinging by to see what's up, and expect to see plenty of excitement.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Idaho Falls 'Plan Van' to make rounds next week

The Idaho Falls Planning Commission is updating the city’s comprehensive plan. Commissioners and Planning Department staff will bring the "Plan Van" to three area events in the next few weeks to ask for citizens’ views, opinions, and ideas on a variety of topics, including future land uses, redeveloping vacant spaces, and creating walkable neighborhoods. Citizens will also be asked to provide suggestions on what policies the city should focus on for the next five years.

The locations, times and dates for the "Plan Van" are as follows:

• Community Night Out, Aug. 7, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
• Downtown near Alive After 5, Aug. 8, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
• Idaho Falls Public Library, Aug. 13, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

"The most important part of developing the comprehensive plan is hearing from the folks who live here," said Mayor Jared Fuhriman. "This is their community and should have the opportunity to help define what they want their community to be. Planning affects so many aspects of the city -- neighborhood design, location of land uses, the number of trees and landscaping found on streets and in commercial developments, roadways, walkways, and more. This is an exciting and fun opportunity for citizens to get involved and make a difference where they live."

For those who cannot attend the events, a questionnaire will be available on the city’s website www.idahofalls.gov from Aug. 10 to Aug. 17. For more information, call 612-8276.