Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bakery owners hope to have business open by end of August

A crew from SEZ Construction excavates trenches for the footings to support a deck on the front of the Buttercup Bakery and Bistro, 335 First St. Owners F.J. "Tiger" and Neccia Hahn say they hope to have the business open by the end of August. They hired Alderson Karst and Mitro of Idaho Falls for the redesign, and when finished the project will be 977 square feet. Neccia Hahn recently spent time in Northern California to learn the ins and outs of making artisanal bread. The Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Buttercup-Bakery-Bistro/600613029958045.

Striving to be unique rather than "the best"

Here's a fascinating story about a book with a radical business notion, namely that it's more important for you or your business to be unique than it is to be "The Best."

At Camp Merrowvista, where I went every summer when I was a kid, the motto was: "My own self at my very best." It came from William Danforth, founder of Ralston Purina and a great philanthropist in his day. The idea of being your best is radically different from being top dog. In this profit-driven age I think it bears repeating, if only for the people would might benefit from it.

Who was the best baseball player, Pete Rose or Reggie Jackson? If you were looking at home runs you'd say Reggie; if you were looking at base hits, you'd say Pete. But no manager in his right mind would say, "Great game, Pete, but why aren't you hitting more home runs?"

What about pop music? Is Rod Stewart the best singer of all time? There are people who say he can't sing at all. Yet if you heard three notes from him over the telephone you'd know who it was right away, and he has sold millions of records.

Here's the link: Aim to be unique, not the best - truths about competition from michael porter.

Broker receives award from Edward Jones

Kevin King
Kevin King of Edward Jones in Idaho Falls recently won the firm's Ed Armstrong Award for "exceptional achievement in building client relationships," according to a news release.

King was one of Edward Jones' 1,618 financial advisers to receive the award. The St. Louis-based firm has 12,000 financial advisers serving nearly 7 million clients in the U.S. and Canada. Founded in 1922, the firm focuses solely on individual investors and small business owners. Edward Jones is a limited partnership owned only by its employees and retired employees and is not publicly traded.

For information, call King at 524-5296, email kevin.king@edwardjones.com or go online to www.edwardjones.com.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Wasabi moving to Snow Eagle Brewing; Whitewater to reopen under new management

The sign in the window Tuesday at Wasabi 
If you're hoping to get a sushi fix at Wasabi Japanese Restaurant down by the greenbelt, you're going to have to wait until Thursday.

Until Monday night, Wasabi was under the same roof as the Whitewater Grill. But restaurant owner Jerry Mitchell has sold the Whitewater side of the business and is moving Wasabi over to the Snow Eagle Brewing and Grill, which he also owns. Wasabi will reopen there Thursday.

Mitchell said he made a deal with Dane Watkins, landlord of Eagle Rock Station, where Whitewater, Wasabi and Snow Eagle are located, and that Watkins has found a new person Joel Henry, to run the Whitewater. Efforts to reach Watkins this afternoon were unsuccessful.

Tradition, location the key to the sales of square ice cream in Swan Valley

Jayda Jorgensen, a sophomore this year at Ririe High School, hands over a waffle cone loaded with Huckleberries and Cream, the top-selling flavor at the Rainey Creek Country Store in Swan Valley. 
It wouldn't be summer in eastern Idaho without a stop at the Rainey Creek Country Store in Swan Valley, "Home of the Square Ice Cream."

The board behind the counter
Passing through Monday to check out an auction site in Irwin, it seemed like the natural thing to do.

The store is having its biggest summer since the economic downturn of 2008, said manager Judy Moore, who has been in charge for 12 years. "People are driving and getting out more," she said. Between day-trippers, tour buses filled with Europeans making the loop through Yellowstone and Jackson Hole and campers from the local scout camps, "It's been crazy," she said. "Every weekend has been crazy."

Numbers on a board behind the counter show sales from this year and last. While sales were up nearly 17 percent Memorial Day weekend, the Fourth of July was up only 2 percent. "That's because it was in the middle of the week," said Jayda Jorgensen, one of the servers behind the counter.

"A lot of people come in and look at the numbers and they think it's the square ice cream, but there are other places that have tried square ice crea," Moore said. "The main thing is we've been here since 1946 and we're in a location where people drive by us anyway. We're 45 minutes out of Idaho Falls, so people are ready to take a break. There's a tradition. You don't stop in Swan Valley with stopping by and getting a square."

Word of mouth also helps. Someone at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport routinely recommends the store to tourists. "I don't know who that person is, but I love them," Moore said.

Monday, July 29, 2013

An artful take on new construction

Enough with boring broad daylight construction pictures. This is Building L at Snake River Landing, where MacKenzie River Pizza is planning to move in by November. In addition to the restaurant, there are three 1,400-square-foot retail suites available. The builder is Morgan Construction of Idaho Falls. The photo was taken close to sunset Sunday night with an iPhone, during a bike ride around the river.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Curb ramp improvements happening all over Idaho Falls

The curb at the corner of Yellowstone and A Street
Whether you're a driver, bicyclist or pedestrian, it's been hard to impossible not to notice the number of curb ramps being poured this summer in the city of Idaho Falls.

There is no single plan or grant behind all the activity, just a renewed focus on the part of Idaho Falls and the Idaho Department of Transportation, said Chris Frederickson, city public works director.

The Idaho Transportation Department is overlaying various state highways within the Idaho Falls city limits this summer, including:

  • Broadway from Bellin Road to Yellowstone Highway
  • Yellowstone Highway from Sunnyside Road to Lomax Avenue
  • U.S. 20 from Saturn Avenue to Science Center Drive
This work includes new pedestrian ramps at various intersections and milling and overlaying the street section. Frederickson said it only made sense for the curbs improvements to be integrated into the projects, to bring access up to the standards of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Work has been going on seven days a week from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., but some of the work has taken place during the day, causing delays and lane closures.

On Channing Way, there is a new water line going in and new curb ramps being put in.  On Thursday night, the City Council approved a $250,000 state-local agreement providing for more curb and sidewalk improvements, primarily on arterial and collector streets.

The city now maintains a road construction map on its Web site, which it updates every Monday.


Meet the Beetles

There are a lot of tires to kick this weekend out at the EITC parking lot on Hitt Road.
I'm going to admit it right up front: Even though I'm not driving one now, I have always been partial to Volkswagens. I've owned a Rabbit, a GTI, a Golf and a Jetta, and as far as I'm concerned they offer great European car performance at the most affordable price (although the bargain basement Bimmer I scored for $1,100 was probably the most amazing thing I've driven when it came to simply eating up the road.)

Anyway, I don't normally plug car sales on this blog, but Teton VW's Best Thing Ever Sale is being held this weekend at Eastern Idaho Technical College and the money they are paying for the lot is going toward EITC scholarships, which I think is a noble thing. Check out the 200 new and used cars on display. The sale ends Monday night at 8. There are 13 models that get better than 35 mpg on the highway (my first Rabbit got 36; that was back in 1981). Make sure you ask about free Idaho Falls Chukar tickets.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Museum of Idaho, Chesbro Music announce Great Guitar Giveaway

The Fender Stratocaster and amp that are going to be given away Aug. 31 at the Museum of Idaho.
So you wanna be a rock 'n' roll star? In connection with "Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World" at the Museum of Idaho, MOI and Chesbro Music are holding the Great Guitar Giveaway.

Enter for a chance to win one of two prize packages:

1. A red Fender Stratocaster with original contour body, Mojo custom retro tweed deluxe amplifier (15 watts w. Jensen speaker), Harman/Digitech istomp downloadable effects pedal, Fender deluxe gig bag, 10-foot Fender instrument cable and CMC stand. Sponsored by Fender, Mojo, Digitech, Chesbro Music and KBEAR 101.

2. Teton acoustic guitar, case and stand. Sponsored by Chesbro Music Co. and KBEAR 101.

Tickets are $1 or 5 for $6. Winner for the first prize package will be drawn Aug. 31. Entries not selected to win the first prize package will be automatically entered into the drawing for the second prize package, which will be Nov. 22.

Tickets are $1 apiece or $5 for 6. They are available at the museum and Chesbro Music on Broadway. Being a guitar gear geek of the first order, I want to check out this amp and also ask whether the Stratocaster can be exchanged for that Thinline Telecaster reproduction I was drooling over the other day. Not that I have anything against Strats, I just like Teles better.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Putt Past Poverty Golf Tournament set Aug. 24

Catholic Charities of Idaho is hosting a golf scramble Aug. 24 at Sage Lakes Golf Course. The organizers are looking for people who want to play and for team sponsors.

All proceeds from the tournament will directly benefit participants in the Individual Development Account Program.

Individual development accounts are matched savings accounts that help people of modest means save towards the purchase of a lifelong asset, such as a home or education and job training. Accounts match the deposits of low-income participants into special savings accounts. In addition to earning match dollars, participants learn about budgeting, saving, and purchasing an asset.

Compared to peers not participating in an IDA, research on the outcomes of IDA programs show that participants are:
  • Twice as likely to attend college
  • 35% more likely to own home
  • Less likely to receive public assistance
  • Less likely to go into foreclosure 

To find out more about the tournament and CCI, visit this link: http://ccidaho.org/golf2013/

Is growth ending? And if it is, how do we adjust?

While waiting for phone calls to be returned, I ran across this article on the New York Magazine web site.

The Blip

As a baby boomer and student of history, it's a subject that interests me. The questions it asks is "What if everything we've come to think of as American is predicated on a freak coincidence of economic history? And what if that coincidence has run its course?"

I wrote some comments in response to it, which I'll share below. But I'd recommend you read the article first.


Our expectations of growth and prosperity are based on what happened during a very brief period of history, 1948 to 1973. During this time, Japan and Germany were rebuilding from the rubble they'd been bombed into during World War II. Our main competition was military and ideological, Communism in the Soviet Union and Red China. We enjoyed a fantastic standard of living. Business and organized labor were essentially partners in the great scheme of things.

Things began to change in the early '70s. Suddenly Germany and Japan had new factories and infrastructure, while ours was aging. To cover the costs of Vietnam and the Great Society, Nixon floated the dollar, undoing the Bretton Woods Accord of 1944. Automation became more prevalent. Americans began feeling the pinch.

No one likes to give up gains they have made. Our reaction was to pitch headlong into borrowing. Who had a credit card in 1970? Businessmen with expense accounts mainly. By the end of the decade they were being pitched to everyone (my first Bank Americard, in 1979, had an astounding limit of $500.)

In addition to the extension of credit came the decline of manufacturing and the embrace of consumerism as the economy's driving engine. Baby boomers entering the workforce embraced easy credit as essential to their standard of living.

That was as unsustainable as the postwar prosperity was, and 2008 was when it finally hit the wall. We were like a single engine plane flying up a mountain canyon. The higher we got, the thinner the air got and the less pulling power the plane had. If the head wall is too tall, you smack into it.

I would say the American Century was essentially 25 years, 1948-1973, the same quarter-century the Baby Boomers were born and raised. We expected to live twice as we'll as our parents and borrowed recklessly to sustain the illusion that we were. Younger generations I believe are going to have more tempered expectations, and that's probably a good thing.

I liked this quote in particular: “I strongly believe if we understand the end of growth, we can make provisions for the economy we actually have.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

First Street Stinker station torn down; new store scheduled to open after Labor Day

Crews from Bateman-Hall Construction began tearing down the Stinker Station at First Street and Holmes Avenue around 7 this morning. As you can see, the gas pumps and canopies will be left where they are, but the parking lot will be repaved. The Boise-based chain is planning to open the new store shortly after Labor Day, said Charley Jones, who bought the Boise-based chain more than ten years ago and has since expanded it.

Gathering moss: Topiary elk goes green near Memorial Drive roundabout

Diane Albertson, a horticulturist in the city of Idaho Falls' Parks and Recreation Department, adds moss to an elk sculpture near the roundabout on Memorial Drive. The bronze topiary sculpture is by Jason Brown, and is the first of a series funded by a $4,000 grant from the Maxine Elliott Foundation. Albertson said the project was begun in June, and that they eventually hope to do three or four.

INL named winner of 2013 R&D 100 award

The Idaho National Laboratory has been named a 2013 winner of the R&D 100 award, hosted each year by R&D Magazine.

The award comes for Switchable Polarity Solvent Forward Osmosis, which purifies industrial wastewater, offering significant benefit to the environment in water-intensive industrial processes such as fracking for oil and gas.

Awards will be presented in Nov. 7 at a banquet in Orlando, Fla.

The technology cleanses industrial wastewater by using the switching qualities of selected specialized thermolytic salts (a class of catalysts) purifying water from extremely concentrated solutions. These can contain salts, organics, inorganics, biologics and many other materials. 
Once the water is drawn through a specialized semi-permeable membrane, the diluted solute is exposed to low-grade heat, which causes the thermolytic salts to release carbon dioxide and switch to an oily insoluble material. This oily material is physically separated from the water, permitting its reuse.

In addition to INL, several national labs were recognized this year for their work. Follow this link for a full list: http://www.rdmag.com/award-winners/2013/07/2013-r-d-100-award-winners.

Here is a link to the YouTube video explaining the process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrXqKAlQC-Q#at=97.

Congratulations to Britni Storer of Idaho Falls for winning a Travelocity grant

Congratulations to Britni Storer of Idaho Falls, who will be traveling to Capetown, South Africa next month to teach English under Travelocity's Travel for Good program. The grant she has received will fund up to $5,000 for her trip. Above is the video she made that won her the grant.

One grant is awarded each quarter. For more information about the program, here's a link to Travelocity's Web page laying out the rule: http://www.travelocity.com/TravelForGood/travel-grants.html

Idaho Falls Power removes turbines from Old Lower Plant for testing

The city of Idaho Falls' Old Lower Power Plant, with its south wall removed. The venerable turbines are being tested for possible rewinding and refurbishment.
This past week, crews from Idaho Falls Power have torn out the south wall of the city's Lower Power Plant and removed the generators to have them tested. If they can be rewound or refurbished, the city-owned utility would like to keep the site for supplemental power generation.

The plant dates back to 1900, and was Idaho Falls' first big public power generation project. The first water-powered generation came from a canal that produced only enough juice to energize the city's street lights. Between 1900 and 1928, three power plants were constructed in Idaho Falls: the Old Lower Plant in 1900, City Plant in 1912 and the Upper Plant in 1928. The Lower Plant was aggressively updated in 1937.

The plants at the original Upper and City sites were almost completely destroyed by the Teton Dam collapse and flood in 1976. The Old Lower Plant facility received little to no damage. A new bulb turbine facility was constructed adjacent to the Old Lower Plant facility in 1978, and commercial production began at that plant in April 1982. Bulb turbines were also installed at the City and Upper Plants and went commercial in July and September 1982, respectively.

Since then, the Old Lower Plant units have typically been run four to eight weeks a year, to augment power production during peak runoff, when flows exceed the capacity of the city's bulb turbines.

Here is a breakdown of the Idaho Falls Power's generation capacity:

Two Old  Lower Plants     1.5 megawatts each
Three Bulb Turbines          8.3 megawatts each
Gem State Dam                  23.5 megawatts
TOTAL                              51.5 megawatts

Monday, July 22, 2013

Trader Joe's to open in Boise in 2014; who wants to take the lead in getting one here?

The Trader Joe's building site in Boise, at Front and Capitol. Some thought they'd never see one, but an opening is planned for 2014.
There's been a fair bit of excitement directed toward Natural Grocers, the Colorado-based chain that is building a store on 17th Street and plans to open it in November.

What I'm interested in seeing (as I'm sure many of you are), however, is what might follow in this store's wake. After Natural Grocers opened in Boise in February 2012, Whole Foods followed suit with a store that November. Now Trader Joe's is building a store at 300 S. Capitol Blvd., with an opening planned for 2014.

That's right, Trader Joe's, one of those chains that incites a feeding frenzy in BizMojo Idaho readers. Those of you who have followed this blog since its inception nearly two years ago may remember that I got wind of Natural Grocers in a conversation with Assistant City Planner Brad Cramer, who told me about a cryptic phone call he'd received. They were asking about a possible site for a 15,000-square-foot specialty grocery store. It was all he knew.

I suggested in print that maybe it might be worth calling Trader Joe's to ask if they had any plans for Idaho Falls. They didn't, but this was one of my first lessons in building readership. I learned there was an intense interest in having a Trader Joe's here.

Checking today once again, Trader Joe's stuck to its standard line -- they plan 18 months in advance and there are no plans for an Idaho Falls store within that time frame. But starting next year, you won't have to go all the way to Oregon, Washington or California to get your Two-Buck Chuck or specialty pasta. You can go to Boise, and to be fair, there is a TJ's in Salt Lake City as well.

Trader Joe's told a Boise TV reporter in December 2011 that the market wasn't in their two-year plan. But Boise did have one gung-ho TJ's fan, Jared Buff, founder of the Bring Trader Joe's to Boise Facebook page, which had 5,745 likes when I looked today. Buff saw his dream come true in March this year when he received word the chain would be building at Front and Capitol.

Persistence and patience pay off. Don't you forget it.

Here's a link if you want to pitch Idaho Falls to the Trader Joe's people: http://www.traderjoes.com/about/location-requests-form.asp

Here's a link to stores they have planned: http://www.traderjoes.com/stores/coming-soon.asp.

And here again is a link to the best and worst of Trader Joe's, which I found entertaining: http://www.thedailymeal.com/best-and-worst-products-trader-joes/4472/comment/reply/21182?utm_source=Outbrain

Friday, July 19, 2013

Traffic detoured on John Adams Parkway as bridge paving proceeds

The new John Adams Parkway bridge over the Idaho Canal, begun last fall, is nearing completion.
Traffic is being detoured on John Adams Parkway today at the Idaho Canal, between St. Clair Road and Lincoln Drive, so crews can pave the sections of the street that lead up to the new bridge being finished. The work is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Traffic traveling east will turn north (right) on St. Clair, east (left) on First Street and south (left) on Lincoln. Traffic traveling west will turn north (left) on Lincoln, west (right) on First and south (right) on St. Clair. Cambridge Drive will remain closed at John Adams Parkway until the paving work is completed.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Design drawing for Idaho Falls Event Center made public

The architectural rendering from the CRSA firm of the Idaho Falls Event Center at Snake River Landing.
The Idaho Falls Auditorium District unveiled its design Thursday for the 5,000-seat event center at Snake River Landing that it hopes to break ground on this fall or next spring.

The design was the main attraction at a Grow Idaho Falls investors' breakfast, where Cindy Ozaki, who chairs the district board of directors, spoke about the project's progress.

Although they had hoped to break ground this year, Ozaki said the board members want to be sure they have adequate financing in hand. "We're just moving very carefully," she said.

Idaho Falls voters in May 2011 approved formation of an auditorium district that levies a 5 percent tax on guests staying at local hotels. So far, the district has collected more than $1.9 million. The overall cost of the project has been estimated at $30 to $35 million.

In May the Auditorium District filed a plat and request for annexation with the city of Idaho Falls. Those have been reviewed by the Idaho Falls Planning Commission and recommended for approval. The matter goes before the City Council July 26, at its regular meeting. Once a plat is approved and land is annexed, developers can file site and building plans and begin work on the project.

The plat for the 22-acre parcel includes a new road that would connect to Snake River Parkway. There will also be access to the center from Pioneer Road, which now goes under the Pancheri Drive overpass and connects to Utah Avenue just south of Wal-Mart.

Ozaki said they have a commitment for a junior hockey team, with exclusive rights going to Elmore Sports Group, which also owns the Idaho Falls Chukars.

Downtown artisans' gallery sets grand opening for Friday

The interior of ML Ranch Jewelry in downtown Idaho Falls.
ML Ranch Jewelry, 430 Park Avenue, is planning to have its grand opening Friday at 11 a.m.

Located in the Snake River Animal Shelter's old office (they have moved to the O.E. Bell Building, on Ridge Avenue), ML Ranch Jewelry features the work of Linda Heiser as well as other artisans, including Chantal Dunkley, Alan Yonk, Cassie Blust and Wanda Baldwin. Heiser said she hopes to eventually have eight people displaying their work at the shop.

She helped start the Artisans Market 12 years ago, but had to step down for health reasons.  She hopes to recreate some of that flavor in the new store. She also sells her work on such online sites as Etsy.

The jewelry she has been making has a Western feel, but Heiser said it's "not cowboy."

"People have been asking me, 'When are you going to open a store?'" she said. "I have a bigger following than I thought I had."

For more information, call 522-0680, or visit the following links:




Idaho comes in near bottom of group's Integrity Index

Idaho ranks in the bottom five when it comes to having laws on the books that enable regular citizens to scrutinize government by attending public meetings, reviewing documents and raising questions without fear of retribution, according to a national study released this week by the Better Government Association, a Chicago-based non-partisan watchdog organization.

The good news is that every state in the Union received a mediocre to poor score, so the bar isn't that high. But still ... 

The Integrity Index, a comprehensive report issued by the association and sponsored by Alper Services LLC, analyzes laws from all 50 states in four key categories: open meetings, freedom of information, whistleblower protection and conflict of interest.

"Our findings show that current laws in most states are woefully inadequate, locking citizens out or forcing them to jump through unnecessary hoops as they attempt to exercise their fundamental democratic right to keep an eye on government," said Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the BGA. 

In measuring ethics laws and government conduct in all 50 states, the Integrity Index determined the overall national average is 55 percent, with all states receiving scores categorized as mediocre or poor and not a single state cracking 70 percent. The low marks suggest the states are vastly underperforming at enacting tough transparency, accessibility and accountability laws, and much more needs to be done to inspire public trust and confidence.

The report made note that several of the states receiving higher marks — particularly Rhode Island, New Jersey, Illinois and Louisiana — aren't commonly viewed as paragons of good government. Those states might rank higher today because years of corruption and embarrassing scandals led to the adoption of stricter safeguards and more comprehensive sunshine laws. The report also cautions people not to assume that just because tougher laws are on the books public officials are following them or states are enforcing them.

For more information about the Integrity Index and to find out where your state ranked in each category, visit www.bettergov.org.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Horse races Saturday help Help Inc.

Someone, I can't remember who, quite possibly my wife, asked me the other day whether they still had horse racing at Sandy Downs. It appears they do, and it appears the Exchange Club of Idaho Falls is doing a benefit there for Help, Inc.  If you want to read about Help Inc., here's a link to its Web site: http://www.helpincidaho.org/. Whether you like to bet on horses or just watch them run, maybe we'll see you there.

Class for contractors to be offered in Idaho Falls next week on truss flooring systems

The Professional Contractor License Review Board is offering contractors a class in Idaho Falls next week that addresses design, construction and installation methods for wood truss floor systems.

The class will be held at July 25 at 10:30 a.m., at the Idaho Falls BMC West Truss Plant, 3715 Bombardier Ave.

In addition to design and installation, the class will also focus on the proper understanding of shop drawings of truss systems. A tour of the BMC truss plant will follow, and a light lunch will be provided.

The class has been approved for yearly continuing education units for professional building contractors and city of Idaho Falls licensed building contractors.

Idaho has more than 22,000 registered contractors, but becoming a professional building contractor through the Professional Contractor Licensing Review Board means a contractor has met training and experience standards not required for state registration. PBC certification allows contractors to offer consumers extra assurance that they are qualified, reputable and committed to staying up to date on the latest codes and issues.

Training and experience criteria include completion of a bachelor's degree in engineering, architecture or construction science, 32 hours of approved code-related education, and, depending on the class of license, from 5 to 15 years of experience. Classes of contractors include General Contractor (Class A), Building Contractor (Class B), Residential Contractor (Class C), and Sub-Contractor (Class D).

Pre-register by calling 208-342-1270, emailing jcarrell@amsidaho.com or online at http://www.idahoclrb.org/.

Meet the Distinguished Under 40 winners

Last week there was a lot of interest in our post about the winners of the Young Professionals Network Distinguished Under 40 award this year. We got a list of winners published as soon as we got the news, but were a little disappointed that we didn't have photos of them. In an effort to rectify this, we rounded them up with the help of Idaho Falls Magazine's Steve Smede and put them all into this little layout, which you can click on if you wish to enlarge it. The these ten will be honored July 30 at a luncheon. For more information, call the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce office at 523-1010.

One16 Sports Bar and Grill owner announces plans for casino

Queenie Linderman
There's going to be a lot more to report in a week or so, but Queenie Linderman of The One16 Sports Bar and Grill announced on Facebook this morning that her establishment will become a casino in October.

This will roughly coincide with the first anniversary of her opening at 3078 Outlet Blvd.,  next door to Teton Volkswagen and near I-15 Exit 116. Going into business with some local investors and others from "back East"* her part of the business will be food and beverage. The gaming will be machines-only and regulated by the state, much the same way Montana runs its casinos.

The eventual plan is to occupy the entire building once Teton Volkswagen moves to its permanent location.

If you want to keep up with this on Facebook, the link is https://www.facebook.com/TheOne16SportsBarAndGrill.

*I put "back East" in quotation marks because it's a relative term in Idaho. My former Post Register colleague Rocky Barker always called his native Wisconsin  "back East." Being from Delaware, I found it amusing.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Event Center to be topic Thursday at Grow Idaho Falls investor breakfast

The site of the event center is shaded in grey. (Click on the map to enlarge it.)
Cindy Ozaki, who chairs the Idaho Falls Auditorium District, will speak Thursday morning at a Grow Idaho Falls investor breakfast about the progress of the Idaho Falls Event Center.

The breakfast will be at the Hotel on the Falls from 7:30 to 9 a.m. RSVP by calling 522-2014 or emailing soseen@postregister.com.

Voters approved formation of an auditorium district in May 2011. In May this year, a plat was filed with the city of Idaho Falls. It has been reviewed by the Idaho Falls Planning Commission and recommended for approval. The matter goes before the City Council July 26, at its regular meeting.

Once a plat is approved and land is annexed, developers can file site and building plans and begin work on the project.

Last winter, when the Idaho Falls Auditorium District named Centennial Management Group to operate the center, CMG President Kevin Bruder said they expected to break ground in May. Obviously that hasn't happened, but when it does the construction is expected to take 18 months.

Plans for the center include a hockey area, shopping area, restaurants, conference center and concert venue. It will be located on 22 acres at Snake River Landing, south of Pancheri Drive, with a road that runs between Pioneer Road and Snake River Parkway serving as the main access.

Partial funding for the project comes from a 5 percent hotel and motel bed tax, which is administered by the auditorium district.

Here is a link to the Event Center's Web site: http://www.idahofallseventcenter.com/index.html

North Wind names new company president

Christopher P. Leichtweis has been named the new president and chief strategic officer of the North Wind Group, according to a news release from the company.

He replaces Sylvia Medina, North Wind's founder, who retired from the company in March.

Leichtweis comes to Idaho Falls from Knoxville, Tenn., where he was a senior vice president and executive officer of Perma-Fix Environmental Services Inc. He previously worked for Bechtel National and Chem-Nuclear Systems, Inc., and has more than 30 years of experience in environmental services and government contracting.

Founded in 1997 in Idaho Falls, North Wind provides engineering, construction and environmental services to federal and state agencies and private industry. It employs more than 300 scientific, engineering, management and professional personnel.

A brief introduction to the Great Race for Education

The Great Race for Education is this Friday. Plenty of people have been involved, even obsessed with it, but for those of you who don't understand the fuss, here's an article I wrote last fall for the Eastern Idaho Technical College publication Insight.

Last year's theme was zombies. This year's theme is superheroes. But whether you want to wear a pair of tights or just some gym shorts, this is an event you might want to check out.

When it came time to bring something new to the four-year-old Great Race for Education, the Eastern Idaho Technical College Foundation turned its attention to the world of the living dead.

Foundation Board President Daren Long has a passion for all things Halloween. Combine that with the intense fan base for zombie television shows and film, and the 2012 Great Race for Education: Zombie Edition was a no-brainer.

"We knew we could really take this event to the next level if we had a theme," said Long. "Zombies are trendy, so it was extremely easy to find ideas, promotional items and new twists to take the event to the next level."

The Great Race already has a corps of passionate participants. When the zombie idea was announced, "(The) reaction from the teams was above and beyond anything we expected," said Michelle Ziel, the foundation’s executive director. Thanks to the Bonneville High School cheerleading squad, the race also had a troupe of zombies pacing the course to throw teams off of their game.

Begun in July 2009, the Great Race is an event in which teams are given clues that lead them to different locations around downtown Idaho Falls, where they perform challenges. Once they've performed five challenges they head back to Snake River Landing. How fast they are able to do this has a lot to do with how quickly they can decipher clues. Teams can also buy additional clues, with the proceeds going to the EITC Foundation's scholarship program.

Although it was a success from the get-go, the race's support in the community has grown dramatically in the past two years. In 2010, once the expenses had been calculated, EITC Foundation reported proceeds from the race around $13,000. In 2012, the foundation came away with slightly more than $32,000 -- an increase of nearly 150 percent.

Although race day is in mid-July, the buildup starts in April with the Trashion Fashion Show at the city of Idaho Falls' Earth Day event. There is active promotion on social media, all with the goal of raising money and recruiting new teams. Teams who participated in the 2012 fashion show had the chance to obtain “zombie immunities” to help protect their runners from lurking ghouls.

The 2012 Great Race saw the biggest number of teams ever. New participants included Premier Insurance, the Old School All Stars, University of Phoenix and Mountain America Credit Union.

While a team can improve its chances of winning by buying clues in advance, taking part in pre-race challenges, and recruiting runners with physical stamina, there are no guarantees. Last summer, first place went to the team from Idaho Treatment Group, which beat out such past-year powerhouses as My Three Stooges, Cargill and Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (which along with Mountain View Hospital and Snake River Landing, hosts the event).

Once the race is done, everyone enjoys food, music and a special rapport that comes from having done something really significant for the community. At the end of the day, racers participate to change the lives of the students in which their efforts help. Here are a few comments from EITC Scholarship recipients on how their Great Race for Education Scholarship has benefited them and their families.

"Dear Great Race for Education Scholarship Donors: This award allows me to continue to progress toward my degree as a medical assistant much faster than I would be able to do on my own. I will continue to work hard and put forth my best effort to ensure your generous gift was well placed."

"Dear Great Race for Education Donors: I hope that my children will learn from my example that they too can do anything. Thank you again for making this opportunity possible for me and my family."

With next year rapidly approaching, the planning is already underway for the 2013 Great Race for Education. Get your capes and tights ready, and fasten your utility belts. The 2013 year theme will be superheroes, as scholarships save lives one dollar at a time.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Old Stinker station slated for demolition this week

Joe Watkins of Bateman-Hall punches into the pavement at the Stinker Station at First Street and Holmes Avenue. The longtime store, which was Sav-Fast Gas before it became Stinker, was closed Monday, with demolition scheduled to start Wednesday. The new store, diagonally behind it, has been under construction for several weeks and is scheduled to open after Labor Day. The parking lot is going to be expanded, but the gas pumps will remain where they are. And here's some history for you: The old Sav-Fast was where Phylis Nisbet and May McCune of  Idaho Falls bought a Super Lotto ticket in February 1992 that won them $12.3million. Will anyone be so lucky at the new store? One never knows, does one?

When it comes to Greenbelt geese, what about the 'Fido solution'?

Geese and seagulls on the west bank of the Snake River in Idaho Falls.
The city of Idaho Falls has decided it wants to manage the goose population on the Greenbelt. It has approved a $3,000, yearlong contract with USDA Wildlife Services that involves rounding up birds and relocating them to a management area, treating eggs so they don't hatch, and launching a don't-feed-the-birds education campaign.

The City Council is scheduled to consider an ordinance at its July 25 meeting that could impose a fine for feeding wildlife -- not only geese, but seagulls, pigeons and ducks.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned, however, is the "Fido Solution," more commonly called hazing.

I give you this link from the Times Call of Longmont, Colo., from October 2012: Longmont wants dogs for 'goose hazing' on local golf courses.

In the wild, foxes and coyotes are the natural predators of geese. Obviously we don't have an abundance of them in city limits, so the next best critters are obviously dogs.

For a more detailed look at goose management methods, here is an interesting document I found this morning: Managing Problems Caused by Urban Canada Geese.

The section on hazing says this: Geese are afraid of dogs, and they respond quickly when one is in their area. Any dog may be a satisfactory hazer although border collies are preferred because they are bred to herd sheep and are more relentless than other breeds in pursuing geese. However, dogs used for hazing must be supervised by a handler or tethered on a leash or a slip-wire. Some situations may allow the use of an “invisible fence” to restrict the dog. One potential drawback of using dogs to haze geese is that geese may swim out into the middle of the water and wait until the dog leaves. For hazing to be most effective, geese must be made to fly away.

The most compelling paragraph in the report, however, was this one: Elimination of food handouts for urban geese is essential if geese are to be dissuaded from using a site. If people continue to feed geese on the property, the geese will be difficult to remove.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wild Russet Cafe and Grill open on Lindsay Boulevard

Heather Phillipp, who recently opened the Wild Russet Bar and Grill with her partner, Jay Drahota.
While their main focus is on tourists, Heather Phillipp and Jay Drahota would certainly like locals to come check out their latest venture, the Wild Russet Bar and Grill at 850 Lindsay Boulevard, in the Guesthouse Inn.

The two, partners already in D'Railed, learned last winter that the property was unoccupied after the restaurant, Open Season, and bar, the Twilight Lounge, both closed. Phillipp said she had worked there as a teen-ager and remembered the size of the kitchen.

The kitchen needed work, however, and after reviewing the past arrangement, in which the restaurant was up front and the bar was in the back, they decided to integrate the restaurant and bar and let the hotel have the old bar area for its complimentary breakfast area.

The menu is soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers, supplemented by dishes made from 20 different varieties of potatoes. For the sake of visitors, Phillipp and Drahota wanted to give the place an Idaho theme, so there is a large variety of Idaho wines and locally brewed beers and ales. Guests often ask where they can buy souvenirs, so Drahota and Phillipp would like to start a crafts cupboard with Idaho-themed gift items. Anyone with something they think would fit the bill is welcome to call them at 881-5204.

The Wild Russet does catering and room service, and has a ballroom they hope to rent out for parties and events. "We just keep trying to test ourselves," Phillipp said.

Construction, real estate hold steady in first half of 2013

Now that we're halfway through the year (I know, I know … I don't want to deal with it either), let's look at what's going on with construction and real estate. Thanks to the city of Idaho Falls and the Snake River Multiple Listing Service, we have numbers for the first six months of this year as well as numbers from past years.

In a nutshell, construction in the city of Idaho Falls is lagging behind last year, but 2012 was extraordinary due to a few big projects. This year's six-month building permit total -- $38.4 million -- was way ahead of 2011, 2010 and 2009 (years I don't think most business people would care to live through again).
By the way, if you want a magnified view click on any of these graphics.

On the real estate front, the median home price in Bonneville County continued to climb back upwards, as did the number of homes sold.
Source: Snake River Multiple Listing Service
Here's something interesting, though. The median home price in 2008, right before the great collapse, was $160,182. If you bought a house for that amount then, what would it be worth today? The answer, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency's Housing Price Index Calculator, is $137,715. So we've still got a ways to go.

If you want to use the calculator to check out the relative value of your own house, here's the link: http://www.fhfa.gov/Default.aspx?Page=86

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Idaho Youth Ranch plans to open new store Aug. 3

Racks of clothing and boxes at the Idaho Youth Ranch's new store on Woodruff Avenue near WinCo Foods, scheduled to open to the public Aug. 3.
The Idaho Youth Ranch is busy getting moved from downtown to a new location on Woodruff Avenue, next door to WinCo Foods, where the Honks store used to be, with a grand opening set for Aug. 3.

The 13,000 square feet at the new location will be more room than they have had downtown on Shoup Avenue, said Jeff Myers, vice president of business enterprises for the Boise-based charity. Myers oversees operations at the 27 thrift stores the Youth Ranch operates statewide.

More importantly, the location is going to be more accessible for both donors and shopers, with better access and parking. Myers said the level of support from donors and supporters in Idaho Falls has always been good.

"Every dollar we make raises funds for kids' programs," he said. "Once we move, we expect the (new) store to double the contribution we get from Idaho Falls."

EIRMC names Niemann new marketing and community relations director

Coleen Niemann
Coleen Niemann has been named director of marketing and community relations at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

She came to work for the Idaho Falls hospital in 2010 as community relations specialist. Prior to that, she was marketing director of an acute care hospital in Phoenix. In January 2012 she went to work in the Salt Lake City divisional office of Hospital Corp. of America, EIRMC's parent company. She returned to Idaho Falls in October.

Niemann is taking over for Cindy Smith-Putnam, who left EIRMC in June, and hopes to carry on the work already started. "Cindy had a huge impact on the hospital and the community and left the department in extraordinary shape," she said. "I plan to concentrate on what we've been doing all along, the level of service, exposure, patient experience and patient satisfaction."

"She will do a great job." Smith-Putnam said. "She's a really smart person. I feel good about leaving things in good hands."

3 Rivers Health Center opens in old Essence of You location

The old Hatch Mansion and grounds on First Street has reopened as a place for massage and naturopathic medicine.
After close to three years of being vacant, the old Hatch mansion at 1421 First Street has new tenants devoted to massage therapy, new age healing, acupuncture, and the like.

The sign outside what used to be Essence of You day spa now says, 3 Rivers Health Center, but that's only part of the picture. The three principals -- Karie Jonak, Joliene Crystal and Jasmine Kinney, hope to soon be hosting weddings and receptions on the grounds and a Green Goddess kitchen open to serve healthy, natural foods ("We don't need another place with fries," said Crystal).

The soft opening at the new location was Monday, and today there was still a lot of unpacking to be done. But everybody under the new roof has been practicing somewhere else (Jonak has had a naturopathic practice on 13th Street for more than a decade), and their clients are already coming in for massages, ionic foot baths, facials, etc.

Considering how long the property has been dormant, it was in very good shape. They have done some painting, regrouting and landscaping, but on the whole it's been a lot less work than a person might have expected.

"It's kind of a niche place," said Jonak. "Not everyone could have moved in the way we did."

A grand opening is planned for July 26 from 2 to 8 p.m. For more information, call 523-3531.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Soup, sandwich restaurant planned for old Hua's on 17th Street

I've had a few people ask what is going on at 1610 E. 17th Street, the old Hua's Mongolian Grill next door to Papa Murphy's. While filling in Tuesday as a last-minute guest speaker at Idaho Falls Exchange Club, I learned that it will be Rusios, a soup and salad restaurant owned and operated by Tony Blakeslee of Idaho Falls.

My efforts to reach Blakeslee have been in vain so far, but on his Facebook page he said he is hiring now for an August opening. "It's like Zupas, meets Kneaders, and is friends with Paradise Bakery," he posted to a friend. "Nothing frozen. All soups are made by scratch; we will bake our own bread."

We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, can anyone tell me how to make a u with an umlaut on my computer?

Distinguished Under 40 winners named

The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Network has announced the 2013 recipients of its Distinguished Under 40 Award. The ten recipients will be recognized during a formal luncheon at noon  July 30.

These ten individuals are recognized for outstanding career, community and educational accomplishments:

  • Amy Hansen - Defining Line Salon, owner
  • Andrea Todd – Idaho Falls Arts Council, marketing director 
  • Blake Johnson – Cooper Norman, CPA
  • Dayne Dingman – Artcore Visual Studio, owner
  • Eric Hess – Northwestern Mutual, financial adviser
  • McKayla Matlack – Development Workshop, director
  • Robert Harris – Holden, Kidwell, Hahn, Crapo P.L.L.C, member attorney
  • Cassandra “Sandee” Moore – Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, COO
  • Travis Powell - Alpha Graphics, sales manager
  • Tyler Kraupp – Kraupp Inc., CEO

Back to the future at Park Avenue and B Street

Steve and Lisa Fischbach of MCS Advertising posted these pictures on Facebook the other day of the building at Park Avenue and B Street that they have been remodeling for the best part of two years. There's nothing much new to report other than a.) this represents a textbook lesson in downtown renewal and b.) the building at 403 Park Avenue used to be the Gem State Business College. The picture on the left is from a 1920 Polk's City Directory, which Lisa Fischbach says was a useful reference as they went about stripping the '60s-era plastic siding off and restoring the facade to a more vintage look. For a larger view, just click on the picture.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Happy Chinese Restaurant moving to new downtown location

Jay and Lily Li inside the downtown location where they hope to move their Happy Chinese Restaurant this fall. The space is at 504 Shoup Avenue, across B Street from Idaho Mountain Trading Co.
Jay and Lily Li came to Idaho Falls from Rexburg in 2003 to take over Happy Chinese Restaurant, on Park Avenue.

When it came time to find a new location that would give them more kitchen space, they didn't want to leave downtown. But it wasn't until last year, when the space formerly occupied by the Grand Victorian Wedding Chapel became available, that they put their moving plans in motion.

"People know we're downtown, so we want to stay downtown," she said.

For those of you who go way back, the property at 504 Shoup Avenue used to be the Montgomery Ward building.

In the new location, which they hope to open in November after a top-to-bottom makeover, they will have 5,000 square feet, nearly twice what they've had at their longtime location. The space will be about evenly split between the restaurant area seating 135 and the kitchen, Lily Li said.

"We will have better updated equipment for cooking," she said.

Bike for Kids Idaho scheduled for Saturday

Nine-year-old Brendan McDaniel, center, with his siblings (from left) Jordan, 11, Sage, 7, and Emmett, 3. Last October Brendan had brain surgery to treat a rare condition called Rasmussen encephalitis. His mother, Joy McDaniel, learned about the Bike for Kids Idaho program from physical therapist Lisa Hamilton, and Brendan is one of the children who will be receiving an adapted bicycle that will allow him to ride with his family.
For Kristy Mickelsen, it started as something personal and turned into a cause.

Mickelsen's son, Isaac, has spinal bifida, which limited what he could do with the family until they discovered they could receive and adapted bicycle from the Children With Disabilities Foundation.

"Before these adapting bikes, they'd just sit on the grass and watch the other kids have fun," she saiid. Seeing what a difference the new bike made in their son's life, Mickelsen and her husband, Scott, developed the Bike for Kids Idaho program, now in its fifth year in Idaho Falls.

If you want to ride Saturday, you can help give an Idaho kid with special needs a bike. This Saturday, the community fund-raiser will start att 6:30 a.m. Proceeds will provide new adapted bikes for special needs children all over the state of Idaho.

The event features a 100-mile century bike ride, as well as 65-, 50-, 25- and 15-mile rides and two family rides over two- and four-mile courses. All rides start and end under the large tent at 1100 Pier View Drive in Snake River Landing. The first riders depart at 6:30 a.m.

In five years, they have been able to buy 26 special needs bikes, ranging in price from $300 to $1,600. After Saturday's event, Mickelsen said she hopes to have enough to buy ten more.

Saturday's event will include a short recipient parade prior to the family rides, where participants and sponsors can cheer on the children who have received bicycles. Following the bike rides, lunch is provided for all riders and their families. Children are welcome to participate in a small carnival featuring games and activities.

Sponsors for the event include: Snake River Landing, Giant Bicycles, Bill's Bike Shop, Dave's Bike Shop, Volm Bag Co., I-PAK, IF Rentals, Rigby Produce, Apple Athletic's Ride Across America Participants, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, EIRMC, CH2*WG, RistaPrints, The Post Register, Coca-Cola, Bingham Mechanical, Personal Best Performance, Nelson Electric, Taylor P.T, Rocky Mountain Artificial Limb and Brace, Home Depot, Newman Farms, Dad's Travel Center, Basic American Foods, Aspen Home Health, Albertson's and Mobley P.T.

The organizers welcome additional support and participation from the community. For more information on Bike For Kids, call Kristy Mickelsen at 208-680-9397 or email kristy@bikeforkidsidaho.com. Event details and registration information can be found at www.bikeforkidsidaho.com.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Syringa rolling out 4G LTE wireless in October

Syringa Wireless has selected Ericsson as the technology provider for its 4G LTE wireless platform. The company’s 4G deployment is currently underway and will be available to customers in October.

With the Ericsson platform, Syringa Wireless will be able to provide high-speed wireless broadband services to residential and business customers and mobile devices.

LTE provides both businesses and consumers with high-speed wireless alternatives to existing Internet options, often outperforming DSL or satellite. In some of Eastern Idaho’s rural areas, bandwidth comes at a premium and is often too slow to meet the growing demands of businesses and community services such as hospitals and schools. Syringa Wireless will deliver LTE services at speeds up to 20 megabits per second (mbps) to meet increasing bandwidth demand.

“Business has become increasingly dependent on broadband access to remain competitive in a global economy. Our LTE services will provide local businesses with the broadband speeds and service flexibility to meet their growing bandwidth needs,” said Scott Dike, Syringa's general manager.

Businesses and residential customers who are interested are encouraged to contact the company early to secure their accounts in advance.

LINK: http://www.syringawireless.com/lang/en/home/

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Contemporary Western jewelry store opening in downtown Idaho Falls

Handmade graduated turquoise
and Bali silver choker-necklace
"Not cowboy, but celebrating the West" is the description Linda Heiser applies to the jewelry she has been making for the last 40 years, and that is the flavor she hopes to instill in the store at 430 Park Avenue that she plans to open July 19.

Located in the Snake River Animal Shelter's old office (they have moved to the O.E. Bell Building on Ridge Avenue), ML Ranch Jewelry will feature Heiser's works as well as other artisans', including Chantal Dunkley, Alan Yonk, Cassie Blust and Wanda Baldwin. Eventually, she hopes to have eight people displaying their work at the shop.

Heiser helped start the Artisans Market 12 years ago, but had to step down for health reasons.  She hopes to recreate some of that flavor in the new store. She also sells her work on such online sites as Etsy.

"People have been asking me, 'When are you going to open a store?'" she said. "I have a bigger following than I thought I had."

LINK: http://www.custommade.com/by/mlranchjewelry/

Former downtown development director branches into pet insurance

Few people ask themselves the question, "Do I need pet insurance?" but if your dog or cat mean anything to you it could be an expensive lesson to learn.

Last year when her 10-year-old Lab mix JoJo slipped on the tile floor and tore her anterior cruciate ligament, Shirley Chastain found herself looking at a four-figure bill she'd never imagined. Her veterinarian worked with her, and JoJo is fine now, but the experience sent her in a career direction she hadn't forseen.

Chastain is now the principal of 4paws Care, a pet insurance company that works under the aegis of the Holden-McCarty agency in downtown Idaho Falls.

"I would say half the people I've talked to have heard of it," she said.

For eight years, Chastain was the executive director of the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corp. When she left that job, she figured she'd make her living consulting and doing cut glass (www.artistryand1.com). Her passion for critters made adding pet insurance to her resume an appealing option.

One can get licensed to sell pet insurance in Idaho, but most pet insurance providers require brokers tto get certified to sell property and casualty as well. Chastain is licensed to sell those and homeowner's and auto policies. But pet insurance is what gets her most excited.

"Auto may be a necessity, but Fido is my passion," she said.

The younger and healthier a pet is, the less it's going to cost each month (a typical monthly charge is $30 to $40).

"I really do believe it's a necessity," she said. "If you're a dog or cat owner, this is part of your family."

In first encounters, it's the wives and mothers who are most receptive to the idea. "Men will say, 'I can take care of this,' but you don't have to dig much to learn they're just as attached," Chastain said.
To find out more about 4paws Care, follow this link: www.4pawsCare.com.