Thursday, November 29, 2012

Idaho Best Places to Work program seeks entrants

There's still time to enter the Best Places to Work in Idaho for 2013, a survey of the state's employers conducted by POPULUS, an independent marketing research company, the Idaho Business Review and PacificSource Health Plans.

Since 2009, 20 companies have been named Best Places to Work in Idaho, divided evenly into large companies (over 100 employees) and small companies (under 100).

Rankings are based on employer practices and an anonymous survey of associates, who are asked to agree or disagree with dozens of statements about the firm, their work environment and their satisfaction.

Enrollment in the program is open through the end of January. Here is a link to the program's Web site, with information about 2013:

For four straight years, Edward Jones, a financial services firm based in St. Louis, has been named the No. 1 large company. The company provides financial services for individual investors in the United States and, through an affiliate, Canada. Every aspect of the firm's business, from the types of investment options offered to the location of branch offices, is designed to cater to individual investors.

There are 13 advisers in Idaho Falls and Ammon, and with Rigby, Rexburg, Shelley and Blackfoot included the number jumps to 19. "For the most part, we each have our own office which makes it seem like there are more of us," said Kevin King, who has an office in Idaho Falls.

Here is a full list of the Best Places to Work in Idaho for 2012 (awards are given at a banquet in April):

Top 10 Small Employers
1. CBH Homes
2. Lochsa Engineering
3. Moneytree, Inc.
4. MetaGeek
5. Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce
6. TitleOne Corporation
7. D.A. Davidson & Co.
8. Fisher's Document Systems, Inc.
9. Thornton Oliver Keller
10. Grubb & Ellis Catalyst

Top 10 Large Employers
1. Edward Jones
2. Idaho Central Credit Union
3. Primary Health Medical Group
5. T-Mobile
6. Idaho Housing and Finance Association
7. West Valley Medical Center
8. D.L. Evans Bank
9. MWI Veterinary Supply, Inc.
10. Alliance Title & Escrow

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sho-Ban Hotel and Event Center names Kristi Lyn Hansen sales director

Kristi Lyn Hansen
The Shoshone-Bannock Hotel & Event Center at Fort Hall has named Kristi Lyn Hansen its director of sales. Hansen was previously employed as sales director of O’Callahan’s inside the Idaho Falls Shilo Inn. Before her 14 years of sales experience in the hospitality industry, she worked in the travel industry for six years, specializing in leisure destinations, international travel, and training. A native of Blackfoot, she attended the International Air Academy in Vancouver, Wash.  

“We are fortunate to have found the skill set that Kristi brings to the property; a genuine care and commitment to clients, the ability to serve, and the regional awareness of the market and trends in the area,” said Jim Metzger, director of hospitality for the center.  “She is a welcome addition to our management team.” 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ruby Ranch Barbeque to open Wednesday on Utah Avenue

Here's some news on the local food front, in which we're well aware everyone shares a passionate interest.

On Wednesday, Shawn Benjamin and Rachel Taow will be opening Ruby Ranch Barbeque in a food truck on Utah Avenue, near the west side Wal-Mart. Even if the weather gets cold, they're hoping what they serve is hot enough to keep you coming back.

Here's the link to their Facebook page (which, of course, they invite you to "like"):

Benjamin has several years experience in food, most recently at the Frosty Gator. Taow, a U.S. Army veteran and also the bassist for the popular punkabilly band Whiskey Sassmouth, handles the business and marketing.

The truck, which has been parked on Marjacq Avenue the last few weeks (the same street on which I live, and a pretty clear tip-off something was afoot), came from Cut Bank, Mont. Benjamin said they were prepared to go to the coast for something until they happened upon the Montana Craigslist posting that took them north.

They will be opening from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with plans to expand to breakfast. "It's been a dream of mine for a long time," Benjamin said.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Teton Toyota to award truck to Wyoming wildlife non-profit

Teton Toyota will be presenting a 2013 Toyota Tundra pickup truck at noon Tuesday to Craighead Beringia South, a non-profit wildlife research and education organization based in Kelly, Wyo.

The event is part of the Toyota 100 Cars for Good program, under which the car company awards organizations for the work they do in their communities. To enter, an organization is required to make a five-minute video explaining its mission and post it on social media. Winners are determined by the number of votes they get. Vehicles are awarded at the nearest Toyota dealership.

This is the second award to be made at Teton Toyota, said Doug Swanson, the dealership's business development manager. Earlier this month, the Lemhi County Humane Society was given a 2013 Toyota Sienna van.

Here is the video that Craighead Beringia South made in May:

Refreshments will be served at the reception. "We'd love to have people here to learn about this," Swanson said.

Downtown, Snake River Landing set Christmas by the River on Saturday

The crowd downtown for the 2011 Idaho Falls tree lighting ceremony
Now that Thanksgiving is over, even the holdouts can say the holiday season has started. In keeping with past years, Christmas on the River is coming this Saturday to Snake River Landing.

Brought to you by the folks at Snake River Landing, Downtown Idaho Falls and other local merchants, the day promises a full schedule of events, starting at 10 a.m. with the Christmas Gift 5k sponsored by Teton Running.

At noon, a reading of the Polar Express will ring in the holiday spirit while attendees warm themselves by fire rings, sipping hot cocoa and eating fresh cookies. Following the reading, Santa will be available for a visit and a quick photo in the Discovery Center. There will be fireside stories and kids' crafts available until 3 p.m. Snake River Landing is serving this year as a drop-off location for the Coats for Kids Program. Gently used coats can be donated to the program starting Dec. 1 through the end of January at the Snake River Landing Discovery Center, located at 901 Pier View Drive, Suite 104, or at any eastern Idaho Community Care location.

New this year is the Holiday Hope Canned Food Drive. Local students can bring canned food to be weighed-in on behalf of their schools. The school that donates the most items by weight will win $1,000, courtesy of Snake River Landing. All items will then be donated to the Idaho Food Bank to support local families during this holiday season.

At 3 p.m., head to cozy downtown Idaho Falls to visit with Santa at the Willard Art Center, followed by the tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. in Civitan Plaza, Park Avenue and B Street. Prior to the tree lighting, winners of the 5k will be announced and prizes awarded.

Available again this year at both locations will be the Trace Down Tracker scavenger hunt, the KLCE Cookbook giveaway, free trolley rides, fun Christmas lights and plenty of holiday cheer.

Christmas on the River 2012 is sponsored by Mountain View Hospital, Snake River Landing, the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation, Z103, KBEAR 101, Classy 97, 105.5 The Hawk, Post Register and Wackerli Auto Group.

Here is a full schedule of the day's events at Snake River Landing and Downtown:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Advertising Federation solicits Gem Award entries

The Idaho Falls Advertising Federation is now taking entries for the 2012 Eastern Idaho Gem Awards. The competition is open to any company, organization or individual that produced advertising work in eastern Idaho. Finished work must have appeared in 2012.

The winners will be announced at a dinner Feb. 8 at the Idaho Falls Elks Lodge.

All the entry materials and instructions here: Entry requirements are different this year, and the categories are totally different as well. The hope is that they're a bit more streamilned and that they'll make more sense for the club.

The early-bird deadline is Dec. 21 and the final deadline is Jan. 11.

If you have any questions, call Steve Fischbach, this year's chairman, at 524-1777 or e-mail him at

Also, just a reminder, the IFAF's annual holiday party is Dec. 7 at the Elks Club, featuring dinner, drinks, dancing and fabulous silent auction prizes. Here's a link to what's being offered:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Teton Toyota files rezone petition for possible VW dealership site

The wheels are turning for a Volkswagen dealership on three acres of land across Pioneer Road from Teton Toyota.

General Manager Mario Hernandez has filed a petition with the city of Idaho Falls to have the land rezoned from C-1 (Commercial) to HC-1 (Highway Commercial). The latter zoning designation allows car lots.

The petition will come before the Idaho Falls Planning and Zoning Commission at its Dec. 4 meeting. The commission will make a recommendation to the Idaho Falls City Council, which will hear the issue  next year.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Skyline grad Joe Thiel named 2013 Rhodes Scholar

Idaho Falls native Joe Thiel was named a 2013 Rhodes Scholar this weekend.
Joseph W. Thiel, an Idaho Falls native and 2008 graduate of Skyline High School, was named a Rhodes scholar this weekend, one of 32 young Americans in the Class of 2013.

Thiel is a senior at Montana State University, where he majors in chemical engineering; he is also pursuing a B.A. in liberal studies, with a focus on politics, philosophy and economics.  He is the only student representative on the Board of Regents of the Montana University System.

Thiel was the vice president of Engineers Without Borders at Montana State and served as a student senator.  He has done summer work related to the storage of spent nuclear fuel and in biofilms engineering.  He is keenly interested in international development, and worked in western Kenya on an engineering project to provide water to rural primary schools.

He intends to do the M.Sc. in economics for development at Oxford.

The Rhodes Scholarship program was created in 1902 by the Will of Cecil Rhodes, British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer. The first class of American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904; those elected this weekend will enter Oxford in October 2013.

Rhodes Scholars are chosen in a two-stage process.  First, candidates must be endorsed by their college or university.  This year, approximately 1,700 students sought their institution’s endorsement; 838 were endorsed by 302 different colleges and universities.   

Applicants in the United States may apply either through the state where they are legally resident or where they have attended college for at least two years. The district committees met separately, on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16 and 17, in cities across the country.

The Rhodes Scholars from the United States will join an international group of scholars chosen from 14 other jurisdictions around the world.

The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford as well as during vacations, and transportation to and from England. It is estimated the total value of the scholarship averages approximately $50,000 per year.

Just over 1,900 American Rhodes Scholars, including former President Bill Clinton, are living in all parts of the U.S. and abroad.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ever wonder what happens to a Twinkie when ... ?

Hostess Brands has declared bankruptcy, and while I can't say I'm terribly broken up about it I'm not too proud to admit I enjoy a Twinkie now and then.

Despite the company's demise, I expect the Twinkie will remain part of American life. It's too embedded in popular culture for somebody to not acquire the rights to it. Still, I wonder if it will be the same.

In the meantime, I thought I would reprint a piece by food writers Jane and Michael Stern detailing some experiments they performed on Twinkies. This appeared in the July 1989 edition of Spy Magazine. 

"Twinkie, Twinkie,
Little suet-filled sponge cake Crisco log,
Now I know just what you are."
"Animal, vegetable, Mineral, or Food?''

In an effort to clarify questions about the purported durability and unusual physical characteristics of Twinkies, we subjected the Hostess snack logs to the following experiments:

Twinkie was left on a ... window ledge for four days, during which time an inch and a half of rain fell.  Many flies `were observed crawling across the Twinkie's surface, but contrary to hypothesis, birds -- even pigeons -- avoided this potential source of sustenance. Despite the rain and prolonged exposure to the sun, the Twinkie retained its original color and form.  When removed ... the Twinkie was found to be substantially dehydrated.  Cracked open, it was observed to have taken on the consistency of industrial foam insulation; the filling, however, retained it adverstised ``creaminess.''

A Twinkie was placed in a conventional microwave oven, which was set for precisely 4 minutes -- the approximate cooking time of bacon. After 20 seconds, the oven began to emit the Twinkie's rich,
characteristic aroma of artificial butter.  After 1 minute, this aroma began to resemble the acrid smell of burning rubber.  The experiment was aborted after 2 minutes, 10 seconds, when thick, foul smoke began billowing from the top of the oven ... a second Twinkie was subjected to the same experiment ... this Twinkie leaked molten white filling ... when cooled, this now epoxylike filling bonded the Twinkie to its plate,  defying gravity; it was removed only upon application of a butter knife.


A Twinkie was dropped from a ninth-floor window, a fall of approximately 120 feet.  It landed right side up ... then bounced onto its back.  The expected ``splatter'' effect was not observed.  Indeed, the
only discernible damage to the Twinkie was a narrow fissure on its underside ... otherwise, the Twinkie remained structurally intact.

A Twinkie was placed in a conventional freezer for 24 hours.  Upon removal, the Twinkie was not found to be frozen solid, but its physical properties had noticeably ``slowed'' .. the filling was found to be the approximate consistency of acrylic paint, while exhibiting the mercurylike
property of not adhering to practically any surface.  It was noticed that the Twinkie had generously absorbed freezer odors.

A Twinkie was exposed to a gas flame for 2 minutes.  While the Twinkie smoked and blackened and the filling in one of its "cream holes'' boiled, the Twinkie did not catch fire. It did, however, produce the same "burning rubber'' aroma noticed during the irradiation experiment.

A Twinkie was dropped into a large beaker filled with tap water. The Twinkie floated momentarily, began to list and sink ... viscous yellow tendrils ran off its lower half, possibly consisting of a water-soluble artificial coloring.  After 2 hours, the Twinkie had bloated substantially. Its coloring was now a very pale tan -- in contrast to the yellow, urine-like water the surrounded it.  The Twinkie bobbed when touched, and had a gelatinous texture.  After 72 hours, the Twinkie was found to have bloated to roughly 200 percent of its original size ... the water had turned opaque, and a small, fan-shaped spray of filling had leaked from one of the "cream holes.'' Unfortunately, efforts to remove the Twinkie for further analysis were abandoned when, under light pressure ... the Twinkie disintegrated
into an amorphous cloud of debris. A distinctly sour odor was noted.


The Twinkie's survival of a 120-foot drop, along with some of the unusual phenomena associated with the ``creamy filling'' and artificial coloring, should give pause to those observers who would
unequivocally categorize the Twinkie as "food.''  Further clinical inquiry is required before any definite conclusions can be drawn.

Believe it or not, this was only a sidebar to a much larger piece. Here's a link to the July 1989 Spy (the Sterns' article starts on Page 89):

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Colorado chain, Natural Grocers, could be looking at store in Idaho Falls

Last year, while this blog was in its carefree youth, we sparked a bit of speculation by reporting on a conversation with Assistant City Planner Brad Cramer, who told us he'd been getting cryptic inquiries from a company interested in building a specialty grocery store about 15,000 square feet in size.

Trader Joe's? Whole Foods? If not them, then who?

This is the difference between writing a column (or blog) and writing a news story. I cannot report with absolute certainty that Natural Grocers, a Colorado-based chain, will be building a store on the 3.87 acres south of 17th Street where Andrew Well Drilling used to be.

What leads me to surmise that it is Natural Grocers that is interested in Idaho Falls is the fact that the city has been in communication with Leadership Circle, LLC, a company in Montrose, Colo., that  consults on planning and zoning for Natural Grocers. Here is a link to minutes from  Missoula Board of Adjustments meeting in January:

If they seek to build in Idaho Falls, they will have to submit a site plan, get the land rezoned and receive a special use permit. The deadline for the January Planning and Zoning Commission meeting is the first week in December. So this is something to stay on top of.

Natural Grocers has stores in 12 states. Earlier this year it opened stores in Boise and Missoula. Here is a link to its Web site: And here is a link to the story that ran in the Idaho Statesman when it became official they were opening in Boise:

As a footnote, I find it interesting that Whole Foods opened in Boise this week.

Mountain River Ranch plans season kickoff

Snow or no snow, the horses are ready at Mountain River Ranch
Mountain River Ranch near Ririe will have its fifth annual Lights On celebration Nov. 23.

In exchange for three cans of food, the owners will be sleigh or wagon rides and cider and cookies. Partners in the event are Farmer Brothers Co., Love at First Bite and Heise Hot Springs. Donations will go to the Idaho Food Bank.

For more information, call 538-7337 or visit

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Downtown bakery owner eyes Jan. 15 opening

Napoleons will be among the European-style baked goods served at La Vanilla Bean Patisserie on Park Avenue
Work is due to start the Monday after Thanksgiving on a new European-style bakery at the corner of Park Avenue and B Street.

Kay Lynn Broadhead, owner of La Vanilla Bean Patisserie, said she is shooting for a Jan. 15, 2013 opening. The business, in the old A Street Games location, will focus on European style pastries (tarts, torts, Napoleons, eclairs, scones), and will also provide specialty cakes and lunch.

Broadhead was a communications professor at Idaho State University for 20 years before she took early retirement in 2010 to attend the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vt. When she returned to Idaho she had her eye on Boise, and even had a storefront lined up. But the deal fell through, and when she started looking at other places she was approached by the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Development Corp.

"I've got a very good feeling about what's happening with the downtown here," she said. Broadhead will be assisted in the business by Jessica Carson.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sandy-damaged cars in Idaho? Be on the lookout

Idaho used-car buyers should be aware that vehicles damaged by Hurricane Sandy "will likely end up on local car lots to be sold by unaware care dealers to unsuspecting buyers," said the Northwest Insurance Council, funded in part by Idaho insurers, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

People who buy a used vehicle and later discover it was water damaged will likely find their insurance policy does not cover the cost of repairs, the groups said.

"Unscrupulous people buy the vehicles, clean them up to hide the flood damage, then ship them to states unaffected by flooding to be sold as normal used cars," said Frank Scafidi, public affairs director for the bureau.

The groups recommend that Idaho car buyers:
  • Choose a car dealer vetted by the Better Business Bureau or local Chamber of Commerce.
  • Check the car's VIN number and search the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System for online access to vehicle history information.
  • Look and/or smell for mildew, mold or an intense smell of deodorizer, debris and silt in unusual places such as under the carpet in the trunk or around the engine compartment.
  • Look for rust on screws and other metal parts.
  • Look for water stains, faded upholstery, discolored seat belts and door panels.
  • Look for dampness in the floor and carpet and moisture inside the instrument panel
Here's an interesting link if you want to read more:

Read more here:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nuclear Society sponsors high school essay contest

The Idaho Section of the American Nuclear Society is inviting high school students to research and write about next generation nuclear design research, offering two $1,500 scholarships to the winners.

One scholarship will be awarded for the best essay at the 9th-10th grade level and another scholarship for the winner at the 11th-12th grade level. The student writing the winning essay in each category will receive a check, which will be given Feb. 28, 2013, at a dinner and scholarship presentation at the Shilo Inn Convention Center in Idaho Falls. Only first place in each category will be announced.

Any area high school student is eligible to enter an essay, which should focus on one next generation of nuclear reactor designs and should discuss the design in detail. The essay must be between 1,500 and 2,500 words and must include at least three references, one of which must be from a journal.

All entries must be submitted or postmarked by Dec. 10, and submitted to Danielle Perez ( or mailed to Idaho Section of the American Nuclear Society, P.O. Box 51635, Idaho Falls, ID 83405-1635.

Here is a link to the entry form and more information:

Film production workshop offered Nov. 16-18 in Boise

Buster Keaton as "The Cameraman" (1928)
So you wanna be in pictures? If your dream is behind the camera, Boise State University is offering a way in.

For more than 15 years, Ken Chaplin’s company has led production crews on film locations in the United States, Canada, Europe and Africa. At each location they have sought to hire qualified  production assistants only to find the local talent lacking in adequate production training. This prompted them to develop their Production Assistant Training Seminar (PATS) program, which Chaplin is bringing to BSU Nov. 16-18.

The class is open to the public as well as students. Cost is $150 for members of the public, $125 for students.

After completing the workshop, each participant’s name will be entered into the PATS national database, available to national and local film professionals and production companies. Participants will also receive a 110-page production assistant training manual.

"Kenny’s 2011 workshop was terrific and we welcome him back to Idaho for a second class," said Peg Owens of the Idaho Commerce Film Office. The state's media production industry is valued at $36 million, with a payroll of $15 million, according to the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis.

For more information and to register online, click here: or visit

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Lucy's offering free desserts to voters

Do I need to admonish my BizMojo Idaho readers to vote? I hardly think so, yet for the sake of our republic I will anyway.

This has been a volatile election, and regardless of who wins I think we are going to see great unhappiness in its wake. Deal with it. This is democracy, and for all the people who moan about its lack of civility I would like to point out that no one is fighting duels or attacking others with fireplace andirons, as has happened in the past. Nor is anybody being jailed or killed for political statements. There are a lot of countries where this still happens.

We are engaged in a grand experiment in self-governance that began in 1776. Our system, for all its faults and imperfections, is a model to the world.

If you need more incentive than my words, Lucy's New York Style Pizzeria, will give you a free dessert cannoli if you show up wearing an "I Voted" sticker at either of its two Idaho Falls/Ammon locations (West Anderson and Hitt Road, next to Merlin's) or at its original location in Roberts.

I would not be surprised if other businesses are offering similar specials. So do I need to make my point any clearer? Go out and vote. It matters.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Idaho theme hotels prominent in Frommers online article

The Hawaiian Suite at Idaho Falls' Destinations Inn is one of 10 themed hotel rooms featured in an online layout on
What does it tell you that four of the 10 Wacky Hotel Rooms on a current slideshow are in Idaho?

These include rooms at Destinations Inn in Idaho Falls and the Black Swan Inn in Pocatello. By far the most unique, however, is the Dog Bark Park near Cottonwood (pictured below).

To look at the full feature, follow this link:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Idaho Falls photo studio offers mini-headshot sessions Nov. 10

An example of a mini-headshot from Kristi Sheriff Photography's Web site

If you would like your child to try out to be a model for Kristi Sheriff Photography & Sweetiebirds Designs, now is your chance. The two Idaho Falls businesses are offering five-minute mini-headshot sessions Nov. 10 to get a feel for how your kids are in front of the camera. Sessions are only $5 plus tax, and special packages will be available that day as well.

If you aren't interested in having your child be a model but would still like a nice portrait of them, this session is also something to consider. Special packages are available the day of the session.

If you want to see some images from other Mini-Headshot Sessions, you can see them here:

Bring your child dressed and ready to go. Kids must wear their own clothes for the Mini-Headshot Session. Winners will be chosen for modeling the Sweetiebirds clothing at a later date.

If your child is interested in modeling, Kristi’s images can be a great asset. Some of Kristi Sheriff’s modeling images have been used by her clients to obtain jobs at Disney and the Weather Channel. She has also had many images appear in print.

To sign up, follow this link:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Still trying to make sense of the numbers.

In my continuing effort to understand how many people I may be reaching with this blog, I've noticed a huge difference between the number of pageviews as reported by Blogger as opposed to the number reported by Google Analytics.

Looking at the Blogger stats, here's what I see:
October was our biggest month yet, with 9,456 pageviews. Since beginning BizMojo Idaho in September 2011, we've been seen by over 76,000 pairs of eyeballs.

Nice going, eh? Not so fast. Let's take a look at the Google Analytics chart now:

While impressive for a local blog (I wouldn't be sharing this otherwise), they present a more modest picture. In the case of October, pageviews were 4,803, slightly more than half the number reported by Blogger. Why is this? Apparently, Google can filter out bots that Blogger counts. These bots are crawling the Web looking for keywords, which is good for search engine optimization. I don't think there can be any argument that original content frequently posted is the key to a good profile with the search engines. This also probably explains the mystery of why our posts about Carl's Jr. and In-N-Out Burger get so many pageviews.

Here's a link where I learned picked up this information: I found the comments to be interesting, too.