Friday, August 30, 2013

Progress on Dad's at Hitt and Yellowstone

Construction this week at the new home of Dad's Truck Stop, at Hitt Road and U.S. 26
For those of you who haven't been out to this end of town, here's the latest progress from Hitt Road and U.S. 26, where Dad's Travel Center is moving into a new building.

Located on 47 acre, the 3,000-square-foot store is to be a smaller version of what they have south of Idaho Falls at Exit 113, said Kevin Bird, the company's general manager. Doug Andrus had planned to develop the site in 2007, but when the economy went into recession they decided to hold off. Push came to shove, however, as the 10-year lease on the store across the road neared expiration. That was when they decided this year was as good as any to build, Bird said.

The contractor on the project is Bateman-Hall, which just recently completed the new Stinker Station at First Street and Holmes Avenue.

The 11,000-square-foot Dad's south of Idaho Falls is home to Frontier Pies. Bird said they plan to have a food vendor in the new store.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Stinker manager shooting for Friday morning opening for new store

The new Stinker Station at First Street and Holmes is likely to be open Friday morning. At least that was what territory manager Erwin Estrada, above, was shooting for at lunchtime Thursday. Backhoes tore into the old store on July 23, and the parking lot has since been repaved. Company President Charley Jones said in July they were shooting for an opening shortly after Labor Day, but Estrada said they have really borne down on the task at hand. "Just working hard and having great people," he said.

Idaho Falls Rotary clubs host "Pitching for Polio" benefit at tonight's Chukars game

Tonight, the Idaho Falls Chukars will be “Pitching for Polio,” a Rotary International-sponsored event coming to Idaho Falls for the first time. For every ticket sold by a Rotary member, $2 will be donated to the cause of polio eradication. 
Rotary International has been in the forefront of the effort to rid the world of polio, once a scourge everywhere. Vaccines to prevent polio were invented in the 1950s and many Baby Boomers in the United States can remember the nurse giving them sugar cubes in elementary school. Today, polio is a threat in only a few underdeveloped countries.
Rotary has been on the front lines of making polio a memory everywhere, once and for all. The most prominent person in the effort is Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Click here to check out his video.
Guests at tonight's game include the Rotary’s governor and assistant governor of District 5400, which includes all clubs in the state of Idaho and a small portion of Nevada. Typically, this annual event is held in Boise. This is the first time ever that Idaho Falls has hosted it.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Maltese CrossFit plans fund-raiser to benefit Hotshot firefighters' families

Maltese CrossFit of Idaho Falls is holding a workout fund-raiser Saturday morning, 9:30 to 11:30, to help support the families of the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighting team who died June 30 while fighting a wildfire near Yarnell, Ariz.

Donations may be given at the event or through the CrossFit Web site, https://hotshots19.crossfit.com/. This is part of a nationwide effort that had raised more than $38,000 this morning.

If you want to contribute your sweat, all are invited to take part in the Hotshots 19 workout, which includes six timed rounds of:
  • 30 Squats
  • 135 pound power clean, 19 reps
  • 7 strict pull-ups
  • Run 400 meters
Workout weights can be modified for each individual.

Maltese Crossfit is located at 2420 S. Yellowstone Highway, Unit G. For more information, call 360-9423.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Idaho Falls Winger's to close Saturday

An all too familiar sight? Winger's in Idaho Falls will be closing.
We confirmation today that after 14 years in Idaho Falls, and barring any intervention from the parent company, Winger's on Hitt Road will be closing Saturday.

Before you say anything, ask yourself when was the last time you ate there. As much as I liked their wings, I think my last foray was with Marty Trillhaase, the Post Register's former editorial page editor who left the newsroom for Lewiston in 2009. ("I'm heartbroken," he said, when I called him to break the news. "That was my favorite restaurant in town. What's left? The Sandpiper?")

Manager Melvin Davis said declining business and rising food costs are the reason the restaurant is closing. "It's possible that corporate could pick us up, but I don't know," he said.

The Winger's brand is owned by the Slaymaker Group of Salt Lake City. The Idaho Falls location was a franchise operation.

As a footnote, I find this link interesting -- http://wingersidahofalls.blogspot.com/ -- a blog that began on Jan. 4 this year with two posts and posted for the last time 10 days later. In April, it became certified gluten free, according to its Facebook page.

All that's left is whether I want to have a "Last Supper" there Friday night. If I do, I will be sure to Instagram a picture of my messy fingers.

Keep Britni in Africa: Saving the World One Safety P...

Going by the numbers and a few conversations I've had, there's a fair bit of interest in Britni Storer's African adventure, so I'm sharing this Aug. 26 post from her blog.

Keep Britni in Africa: Monday, August 26th: Saving the World One Safety P...: Our days are so packed with activities that I find myself trying to cram in a blogging moment to whenever I can. Our internet is so spotty, ...

You're welcome to browse all the other posts and pictures. There's some fairly extraordinary stuff there.

Monday, August 26, 2013

New restaurant, Rusios, slated for opening Sept. 4

Rusios owner Tony Blakeslee, in front of the new restaurant's free-standing gas fireplace. The restaurant is scheduled to open Sept. 4.
Rusio's, a new restaurant at 1610 E. 17th Street, will be opening Sept. 4, the Wednesday after Labor Day.

Owner Tony Blakeslee said that with people off to the Eastern Idaho State Fair the week after Labor Day is great timing for a soft opening and getting things squared away. Blakeslee's restaurant experience includes years of managing Chili's and Texas Roadhouse.

Blakeslee and his wife, Sunnie, took their inspiration for Rusio's from Zupa and Paradise Bakery in Qgden, Utah. The menu will feature soup, salad and sandwiches, all made from scratch.

Rusios has 5,600 square feet, including a banquet room that can seat up to 50 and is equipped with a full audio-visual set-up. Blakeslee said he has already booked 12 Christmas parties in the banquet room.

In the main room, there are several TV screens and a large free-standing stone fireplace. Good food is only part of what keeps a restaurant in business, he said. "You're selling an experience now."

To keep up on Rusios progress, here is a link to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CafeRusios

Les Schwab breaks ground on new alignment center

Excavation at 930 E. 17th St., where Les Schwab Tire Center s building an alignment center.
OK, I'm back from two weeks on the East Coast, and while I tried to keep some content coming there's still no place like home. Funny thing was while I was there anytime I saw new construction my immediate reaction was to ask myself, "Wonder what's going on there?"

This morning's first order of business was to visit the city of Idaho Falls Building Department to get an answer for two BizMojo Idaho readers, Gary Mills and Chad (chado347l), who wanted to know what was happening next to Les Schwab Tire Center on 17th Street. The longtime car wash at 930 E. 17th St., has been torn down and a quick drive-by revealed dirt being dug on the .63-acre site.

Word from the city is that Les Schwab is adding on to its operation there and building a new alignment center. No word on when it will be complete, but if you look at the frame a few blocks further east where Natural Grocers is going up fast I think it's a safe bet they'll have it done before the snow flies.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Darci Davis returns to eastern Idaho AmeriTitle office

Darci Davis
After a two-year hiatus, Darci Davis has returned to the escrow team at AmeriTitle's office in Idaho Falls. After 10 years in the title and escrow Industry, Davis took a break to acquire and manage a family-run dry cleaning business, helping it turn into a successful and stable enterprise. She returns to AmeriTitle today as the escrow manager for the Idaho Falls, Rigby and Rexburg locations.

"I am excited to get back into the industry I am so passionate about, and look forward to again working with the outstanding AmeriTitle team and our customers," she said.

"Darci brings with her an in-depth knowledge of escrow, a wealth of experience and a known reputation as a leader in our industry throughout the region. We are thrilled to have her back," said Richard Hajek, general manager of the Idaho Falls AmeriTitle office.

What's a Facebook 'like' really worth? Depends on whether you're talking ego or money

When Jesus said to Peter and Andrew, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men," I don't think he was talking about 21st century social media, but who knows? Whatever you want to believe is fine with me.

This morning, prompted by my friend Melissa "Moe" Bristol, a local photographer and occasional BizMojo contributor, I invited all my friends and associates to like the Facebook page for her business, https://www.facebook.com/PhotographyByMelissaBristol.

I admit that part of this was driven by ego. Before I started my fishing expedition, she had 326 likes. A half-hour later she had 330. If she ends the day with 450, I'm really going to feel like somebody.

I won't endorse her except to say she's a person who sees pictures everywhere she goes and whether it's with an iPhone or a digital Canon, she almost always gets a shot. This can be annoying or frustrating, depending on how much of a hurry you're in. But as a single mother of two boys, Mikey, 11, and Leighton, 6, she's trying to make a living doing what she loves, shooting photos of families, engaged couples, high school seniors and weddings. More power to her.

Beyond that, however, this whole exercise has got me wondering, "How much is a Facebook like really worth?" If you drive down 17th Street and every business has a sign that says, "Like us on Facebook!" doesn't that devalue the currency?

Diving into the matter, I found this link from earlier this year:

Feel free to read it, but here's the sentence that jumped out at me:

Researchers have attempted to calculate the potential value of a user who "Likes" a brand, but those numbers vary wildly. Social Media Examiner's 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report surveyed 3,000 marketers, and 41% said they are "uncertain" about the effectiveness of Facebook marketing. The report also found that 17% flat-out said the site is ineffective for marketing purposes. Only 32% agree it is effective.

It's all very scientific and hard to quantify -- I'll grant you that -- but at the most basic level, who doesn't like to be liked?

Oh, by the way, if you want to like BizMojo Idaho's Facebook page, here's the link: https://www.facebook.com/BizMojoIdaho. Like everyone, I could use some validation.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

One-man Churchill show coming to Carr Gallery in September

Sir Winston Churchill on April 5, 1955, the day he resigned as prime minister because of declining health. (Source: British Pathe Archive)
I saw this on Facebook today, and as a student of history I found it interesting. The Idaho Falls Arts Council is bringing Churchill, a one-person show, to Idaho Falls Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Carr Gallery. Tickets are $50.

Set in April 1955, Churchill agonizes in his wartime bunker below London whether to resign as prime minister. As he tries to decide (Spoiler: He did. He was 80 and had suffered a stroke in 1953), he reviews his uniquely eventful career, filled with history-changing events and people, glorious speeches, pithy comments and funny stories. The show promises all the wit and wisdom that has made Churchill into an imperishable legend. 

Limited tickets are available to create these intimate performances in the Carr Gallery. Selections of sweet and savory desserts are included in the admission price. It is being sponsored by Jerry and Carrie Scheid and Tim and Anne Hopkins. For tickets, go to www.idahofallsarts.org or call 522-0471.

As an aside, I can't imagine whoever is playing Churchill will smoke the way the great man did. Not in an art gallery. Yet for the record, here is brief bit from Cigars Magazine:

The man for whom the imposing Churchill cigar size is named smoked eight to 10 cigars a day, primarily Cuban brand. Not even the necessity of wearing an oxygen mask for a high-altitude flight in a non-pressurized cabin could prevent Churchill from smoking. As the story goes, the prime minister requested that a special mask be created that would allow him to smoke while airborne. Naturally, the request was fulfilled. On another occasion, Churchill hosted a luncheon for King Ibn Sa'ud of Saudi Arabia, who did not allow smoking or drinking in his presence. Rather than submit to the king's wishes, Churchill pointed out that "my rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them." The king was convinced.

I remember Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain (20 to 40 cigars a day) many years ago at the Colonial, and all the coughing and consternation over the clouds of cigar smoke billowing from the stage.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Development Company receives $1.5 million federal grant for Driggs job center

East Central Idaho Planning and Development Association of Rexburg has received a $1.5 million grant to help build and fund the Teton County Professional Technical Education and Business Center in Driggs.

The Economic Development Administration grant was announced last week by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. The center is expected to create 100 jobs and contribute $850,000 in private investments, according to estimates from the association.

Instead of constructing a new building for the center, an already existing two-story, 20,000-square-foot building will be brought up to code and have a new HVAC system and other utilities installed. The renovated building will be used for professional technical education and will support light manufacturing and other industries.

“One of the Obama administration’s top priorities is ensuring American workers have the skills they need to compete for good-paying jobs,” a news release quoted Pritzker saying. “The Teton County Professional Technical Education and Business Center in Idaho, supported by this $1.5 million EDA grant, will help train workers and ensure local businesses have the skilled workforce they need to be successful.”

Friday, August 16, 2013

Latin is a dead language, but it doesn't have to kill you

Have you ever used "i.e." when you meant to use "e.g."? I know, I know, it's embarrassing. Luckily, I have just discovered an easy way to keep the two clear in my mind.

I.e. is the abbreviation for the Latin term id est, which means "that is."

E.g. is the abbreviation for exempli gratia, which means "for example."

Remember the letter "i" as "in other words," if you want to impress someone by using i.e.

Remember the letter "e" as "for example," if you feel the need to show your erudition with e.g.

That wasn't so hard, was it?

Concerts at Snake River Landing planned in support of United Way

Want to learn more about the United Way of Bonneville County? Here's your opportunity to do that at a fun Alive After Five-style event. If you want a larger version of this poster (i.e., if your eyes are as bad as mine), click on it to enlarge it. Print it out and put it on your fridge. Full disclosure: Happyville, the band in which I play guitar, will be performing Aug. 29. We hope to see you there, but you don't want to miss 40 Something Band either, 'cause they're good and they're our buds.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Greg Carr to be inducted into Idaho Tech Council's hall of fame

Greg Carr
Idaho Falls native Greg Carr, who made a fortune in telecommunications then graduated to philanthropy, will join the Idaho Technology Council Hall of Fame during an induction ceremony at Boise Centre on the Grove Oct. 23.

The son of Dr. Taylor Carr and his wife, Betty, Carr spent his undergraduate years at Utah State University, graduating as valedictorian of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. While enrolled in the master’s program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Carr and some associates recognized an opportunity in the telecommunication services sector and in 1986 founded Boston Technology. Within four years the company had become the nation’s number one voice-mail provider to telephone companies.

By the end of the 1990s Carr had amassed a net worth of nearly $200 million, and when he turned 40 he decided to devote the rest of his life to philanthropy. In 1998 he co-founded the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. In 2000 a donation he made allowed for the transformation and expansion of Idaho Falls' Bonneville County Museum into the Museum of Idaho. He donated $1 million to help develop the Idaho Human Rights Education Center in Coeur d'Alene and the Anne Frank Memorial in Boise.

Carr now divides his time between Sun Valley and Mozambique, where he signed a 20-year agreement with the government to restore and manage that country's flagship national park, Gorongosa. He is working with Zoo Boise to establish a 2-acre exhibit reflecting the Gorongosa habitat.

Also being inducted is Tim Barber, co-founder Keynetics Inc., now the largest privately held technology company in Idaho.

Barber's patents have led to the founding of four Idaho technology companies, including Kount, an industry leading fraud-prevention company serving the world's largest payment processors and retailers; and ClickBank, an e-commerce platform for internet entrepreneurs. He recently moved away from the daily operations of Keynetics to launch 2AI Labs, a research collaboration focusing on the nature of intelligence in humans and machines, and O2Amp, an optics company that provides lenses medical professionals can use to detect health-related color changes.

"These distinguished business and community leaders serve as pathfinders to the next generation of technology professionals to drive innovations that continue to grow the Idaho economy," said Idaho Department of Commerce Director Jeff Sayer said in a press release.

The October banquet will also feature this year’s winners of the Idaho Innovation Award, to be presented in four categories: Commercialized Innovation of the Year; Early-Stage Innovation of the Year; Innovative Company of the Year; and Innovator of the Year. The innovation awards program is sponsored by Stoel Rives and Kickstand.

Council members and members of the public can reserve tables or sponsorships for the banquet by contacting Pamela Prather at pprather@idahotechcouncil.org. Individual tickets can be purchased at http://www.idahotechcouncil.org/itc-hall-of-fame-2013.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Terry named scientific director of Advanced Test Reactor

Jeff Terry
Idaho National Laboratory has selected Jeff Terry, associate professor of physics at Illinois Institute of Technology, as scientific director of the Advanced Test Reactor National Scientific User Facility. ATR NSUF is the nation's only designated nuclear energy user facility.

The search for a new director began when Todd Allen stepped down in January to become INL's deputy director of science and technology.

As scientific director, Terry will provide strategic direction for ATR NSUF, working closely with potential academic and industrial users. He will also serve as the program's lead representative to various stakeholder groups such as the DOE, university researchers and the ATR NSUF User Group.

Terry has a Ph.D. in chemical physics from Stanford University and a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Chicago. For the past three years he has been the IIT's radioactive sample coordinator at Argonne National Laboratory's Advanced Photon Source, an ATR NSUF partner facility since 2009.

Terry also worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he received a Science and Technology Award for his work on the measurement of the electronic structure of plutonium.

"ATR NSUF is the most unique user facility in the U.S.," Terry said. "The combination of the facilities at INL and at the partner facilities gives ATR NSUF great ability to solve materials challenges in nuclear energy generation."

Terry began his joint appointment position Aug. 5 and has been splitting his time between ATR NSUF and his faculty responsibilities at IIT.

Since its designation as a National Scientific User Facility in 2007, ATR NSUF has been awarded 72 research experiments involving 20 universities and four other national laboratories. To learn more, visit the ATR NSUF website at http://atrnsuf.inl.gov.

Smart PJs get press on Fox, attention from Wal-Mart

Here's Leighton Johnson of Idaho Falls wearing a pair of Smart PJs, the world's first interactive pajamas and the inspiration of Juan Murdoch, an Idaho Falls real estate agent. (Photo by Melissa Bristol)
As feature stories go, Juan Murdoch's Smart PJ's are hard to resist. Just this week, his interactive pajamas for kids got another bit of national exposure, this time on Fox and Friends.

Here's a link to the video: 

Looking to post the actual video, I found this YouTube clip:
All in all, I'd have to say that things are going about as well as can be expected for Murdoch, an agent for Keller-Williams East Idaho who got the idea out of the blue during a sales meeting where QR tags were being explained.

Here's a link to the story we ran when he first rolled them out last Christmas:


If you want to vote for them in Wal-Mart's "Get on the Shelf" competition, follow this link: getontheshelf.walmart.com

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Battelle opens application process for two charitable donation campaigns

Battelle Energy Alliance, operator of Idaho National Laboratory, today announced the application period for its fiscal year 2014 charitable donation campaign and technology-based economic development charity. The campaign focuses on two programs, each with a distinct audience and aim. BEA is asking all requests for charitable donations related to each category be submitted by Sept. 15.

Community Giving
Through the INL Community Giving program, started in 2005, BEA provides corporate-funded donations in selected areas including human services, health, environment, arts and civic projects.

"We recognize the needs in our community are growing, so our selection process is very difficult," said Amy Lientz, director of INL communications and governmental affairs.

“Our first priority this year will be to give to organizations that support the basic needs and education of children and the underprivileged,” said Lori Priest, contributions administrator.

Technology-based Economic Development
The second program targets projects aimed at spurring economic development, technology-based economic development, entrepreneurship and innovation in the region.

“High-impact projects that focus on connecting industry partners, universities, new business startups and economic development organizations in an effort to drive job growth and innovation in the region are at the top of our list to fund in 2014,” said Stephanie Cook of INL’s technology deployment team.

All requests for INL charitable donations need to be submitted on the 2014 donation request form by Sept. 15. Decisions will be made by Dec. 15 notifications will then be sent to requesting organizations informing them of funding awards. Funds will be for projects for the period of Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2014.

Organizations must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit entities. A copy of the IRS tax-exempt letter must accompany the form. INL’s charitable donation program does not fund political or religious organizations, emergency response, courtesy advertisements, athletic programs or events, individuals, contests or extracurricular school activities. This funding does not include requests for K-12 education donations.

For further information on educational funding requests, contact Brenda Greenhalgh at brenda.greenhalgh@inl.gov.

For full details on both programs, or to download the 2014 request for donation form, follow these links:
Community Giving
Technology-based Economic Development

Press conference scheduled at site of new Scientech office complex

Detailed plans for the new Scientech office complex at Snake River Landing are set to be unveiled Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at a news conference at which Mayor Jared Fuhriman will speak.

The event will be at the building site, located off Whitewater Drive and Bluff Street. The project calls for construction of two interconnected office buildings, the first 53,300 square feet of space and the second 55,000 square feet. The project is one of many underway at Snake River Landing. Galusha Higgins & Galusha has a new office under construction, Bandon River Apartments is underway and a new restaurant and retail building on Milligan Road is expected to be open in the fall, with MacKenzie River Pizza as a major tenant.

A business unit of Curtiss-Wright Flow Control Co., Scientech engineers and designs high-tech nuclear and electrical-control instruments. The company employs about 200 people at its existing Idaho Falls facilities on South Woodruff Avenue.

INL division director receives prestigious fellowship from peers

Terry Todd
The American Institute of Chemical Engineers has named Terry Todd, director of the Idaho National Laboratory Fuel Cycle Science and Tech Division, as a fellow. Awarded to outstanding members of the profession who have been working for 25 years or more, it represents the highest degree of recognition by peers of outstanding professional achievements. Todd is the only current INL employee to be named a fellow of the AIChE, which has 45,000 members in 90 countries.

A chemical engineer for 33 years, Todd earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Montana State University. He has a Ph.D. in radiochemical engineering from the Khlopin Radium Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia.

At INL, where he has spent more than 30 years, Todd currently specializes in chemical separations methods to recycle nuclear fuel and reduce waste. He has held numerous leadership positions, and in 2008 earned the INL distinction of laboratory fellow.

In addition to authoring many peer-reviewed publications over his career, Todd has been awarded 29 patents. Some of these patents relate to the Nano-Composite Arsenic Sorbent, an affordable polymer particle that removes the toxic substance from drinking water. The technology received a prestigious R&D 100 Award in 2006.

"I really like what I do," says Todd, crediting his success to teams of collaborators from different disciplines which help foster innovation. "I've worked with some great people … you kind of play off each other."

Aunt Annie's to have ribbon cutting Wednesday at noon

There are 12 flavors of root beer at Aunt Annie's Kitchen, which opened Aug. 1 in the Teton Spectrum.
The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce has six ribbon cuttings planned between now and the end of the month.

The first will be Wednesday at noon at Aunt Annie's Kitchen, 2631 S. 25th East, next to Cafe Sabor in the Teton Spectrum.

Visitors to the Snake River Roaring Youth Jam may have gotten a taste last week of their fudge and flavored popcorn when they were making samples available there. The business was opened Aug. 1 by John Crook, also the owner of Town and Country Gardens.

Crook said he got the idea from someone he met last year during a meeting in Chicago.

Two-thirds of the building's 1,200 square feet is devoted to kitchen space, the other third to retail space. There are close to 50 flavors of popcorn, 30 flavors of taffy, 12 flavors of fudge and 12 different brands of root beer. For more information, here is a link to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AuntAnnies.

On Friday at 11 a.m. the Chamber Ambassadors will take their big scissors to The Boot Barn, 1961 S. 25th East, then go at noon to Eagle Home Mortgage, 3040 E. 17th Street. The following Wednesday, Aug. 21, there will be two ribbon cuttings, the first at 3 p.m. at Jacob Grant Property Management, 1075 S. Utah Avenue, the second at 4:30 at The Celt, 398 West Broadway. The latter may seem a little belated, as The Celt is celebrating its first anniversary this month, but better late than never, right?

The last ribbon cutting will be Aug. 23 at 1 p.m. at Reflections Academy of Dance, 680 W. Broadway. It is owned and operated by LaNae Surerus, who also teaches at Eastern Idaho Technical College. For more information and a full class schedule, follow this link: http://reflectionsacademy.com/

Monday, August 12, 2013

Meet the new boss; same as the old boss

Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group announced Thursday it had closed on its previously announced acquisition of Fisher Communications, but KIDK and KXPI, the Idaho Falls-Pocatello stations, apparently won't be part of the $373.3 million sale.

Shortly before the deal, it was announced that KIDK (a CBS/Fox affiliate) and KXPI (a Fox affiliate) were to be sold to VistaWest Media, LLC, a company based in St. Joseph, Mo. The sale is pending, but it means that if the Federal Communications Commission approves the stations will most likely remain operated by News Press & Gazette Co., also based in St. Joseph.

NPG was the company that bought KIFI Local News 8 from the Post Company in 2005. In December 2010, Fisher Communications announced it had entered into a shared services arrangement with NPG, which moved KIDK's operations out of its longtime home on 17th Street and into KIFI's shop on North Yellowstone and also brought about the layoff of more than two-dozen KIDK staffers. That arrangement was finalized Jan. 1, 2011.

Checking in from the East Coast

Dunkin' Donuts in the background. Concord Pike was the 17th Street of Brandywine Hundred when I was growing up in the '60s and '70s. Now it's a superhighway. Also in the background is the Charcoal Pit, a place that dates back to the '50s and was the place to come after football games, dances, movies, etc. Real Archie and Jughead stuff, I know, but those were the days.
Heaven knows I hate to see visits to this blog slow down because of something as trivial as a trip to see my mother, but faithful readers deserve to know I am writing this from muggy Wilmington, Delaware, the city of my youth.
I found this at ShopRite, grocery shopping with my mom. It felt like a letter from home.

I left Idaho Falls Sunday morning at 2:45 a.m. aboard the Salt Lake Express, arriving at SLC International shortly before 7. My first flight, on Frontier Air, was to Denver, leaving at 10:17 a.m. My flight from Denver to Wilmington was at 3:50 p.m., which meant I had a lot of time to kill.

Frontier flies big Airbus jets from Denver to Wilmington three days a week. I sat next to a woman from Bala Cynwd, Pa., who said she was flying in and out of Wilmington because of a.) the cheap fare and b.) that ease of getting in and out of the New Castle County Airport.

This airport, people is, right out of the '60s. No jetways, no baggage carousels, no waiting area to speak of, just a lobby. The last time I'd set foot in it was 1980, when a friend and I went to the lounge to hear saxophone great Dexter Gordon play with a trio. Being quite drunk, Dexter was not "on his game" that night. I don't doubt he was wondering how he had come to the sad state of affairs he was in (this was before Clint Eastwood resurrected his career by involving him in the Charlie Parker biopic "Bird").

Anyway, I don't want any of you regulars to stop coming to BizMojo, so I will be posting notes and letters in the next nine or ten days. If you have any pictures or news to contribute, fire them to me at bizmojoidaho@gmail.com. It has long been my goal to involve readers more in the content of this program, and I will be checking every day.

And if you haven't already, join BizMojoIdaho on Instagram. I will be posting photos of Trader Joe's and Dunkin' Donuts to torment you.
Casapulla's, a sub shop and deli. I would favor bringing a place like this to Idaho Falls for economic development reasons.

Friday, August 9, 2013

BizMojo Idaho branches out into Instagram

Want your BizMojo Idaho in your Instagram feed? We're ready to give you what you expect from us!
In my relentless quest to embrace all social media -- I eventually hope to learn about 20 percent of what anyone in their 20s probably knows already -- I have turned to Instagram (but I have to admit I've kind of cooled on Twitter).

There are days when all it seems like I'm doing is riding around shooting pictures of construction sites, and I'm not complaining. At a certain point, however, it dawned on me that Instagram might be the natural way to go. You can basically shoot anything that catches your eye -- a squirrel on the lawn, a cat in the windowsill -- and post it to the world as "wild art." Not sure I'm going to get that carried away, but for bread-and-butter construction photos I thought it looked like a natural.

Up top I've posted two shots from yesterday. I invite you to subscribe to BizMojoIdaho on Instagram if this is the kind of thing that turns you on. I am also learning about hashtags. Considering the random way my mind works with free association, I think it could be fun.

Any comments or suggestions I would greatly appreciate. I'm the first to admit I am fumbling my way toward understanding social media. This morning I heard about Vine clips going viral. I want to try that soon, too.

E cigarette store, The Vapor Door, opens on West Broadway

Norm Christensen, owner of The Vapor Door
Norm Christensen has never smoked a day in his life, but three sisters who smoked led him to discover e cigarettes -- tubes that deliver water vapor and nicotine but not all the tar and carcinogens of a Marlboro or Winston.

After a year of looking into it, and seeing his sisters switch, Christensen decided there would be a market for a store selling e cigarettes and e juice. In late July, he opened the Vapor Door at 1733 West Broadway.

"Here in Idaho Falls it's not that big yet," he said. But in three weeks, he has seen people who smoked for 45 years no longer smoking.

In addition to what they sell, the Vapor Room offers free wi-fi, games and a Sunday ping-pong tournament.

For Christensen, it is a switch from the construction he was doing for years. "I wanted to do something that was fun," he said.

Here's the link to the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheVaporDoor

And for an in-depth look into e cigarettes, here's a link from Thursday's New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/08/fashion/smoking-is-back-without-the-stigma.html?hp&_r=0

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Idaho's WinCo Foods gets write-up in Time

The self-checkout line at WinCo in Idaho Falls
It's not really a David vs. Goliath battle. Idaho's WinCo Foods is simply doing what it has done since it became employee owned in 1985 and changed its name from Waremart  in 1999.

But it seems that after a writeup in the Idaho Statesman, Time magazine is paying attention. Here's the link to the piece in which the no-frills chain is called "Wal-Mart's worst nightmare": http://business.time.com/2013/08/07/meet-the-low-key-low-cost-grocery-chain-being-called-wal-marts-worst-nightmare/.

You can read it yourself, but here's the paragraph that caught my attention: In sharp contrast to Wal-Mart, which regularly comes under fire for practices like understaffing stores to keep costs down and hiring tons as a means to avoid paying full-time worker benefits, WinCo has a reputation for doing right by employees. It provides health benefits to all staffers who work at least 24 hours per week. The company also has a pension, with employees getting an amount equal to 20 percent of their annual salary put in a plan that’s paid for by WinCo; a company spokesperson told the Idaho Statesman that more than 400 non-executive workers (cashiers, produce clerks, and such) currently have pensions worth over $1 million apiece. 


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Volunteers seek funds to get Moon Pavilion built in Pedersen Sportsmans Park by 2014

The Dragon's Path and deck in the Friendship Garden at Pedersen Sportsmans Park, south of the Broadway Bridge. All this work has been done by volunteers since 2011. The deck is built over the decrepit concrete fish runs that date back to 1930s. (Photo by Paul Menser)
As a master gardener, Judy Seydel has never had a problem with jobs starting small and getting bigger, but she admits she wasn't prepared for how much work would be involved in building a pagoda at Pedersen Sportsmans Park.

Located on an island just south of the Broadway bridge, the park has been home to one of the Japanese lanterns donated by Tokai-Mura, Japan, which has been Idaho Falls' sister city since 1981.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the Sister-Cities relationship, Clarke Kido, a member of the steering committee, suggested it would be nice to build a friendship garden around the lantern. The city of Idaho Falls gave its permission, with the caveats that work could only be done north of the Taylor Toll Bridge replica and no public money would be spent.

Gloria Miller-Allen's painting of what the Moon Pavilion will look like.
Through donations, both cash and in-kind, and volunteer work (about 250 people were involved, many of them Idaho Falls Civitans), they removed old plants and brush removed and got a deck built in 2012.

As for the city, "Once they saw what we were doing they got all excited about it," Seydel said.

In 2012, the volunteers were allowed into the south end of the island, clearing out volunteer day lilies, landscaping a "dragon path" across the settling pond, planting Japanese irises and cattails. Volunteers Ed Zaladonis and his brother Mike Zaladonis suggested the crowning touch would be a "Moon Pavilion" open-air pagoda, built in time for the July 2014 visit of the Sister Cities delegation from Tokai-Mura.

They discovered challenges right away. First of all, it had to be earthquake proof, but with no walls and nearly 8,000 pounds of tile on the roof. While the original plan was to drill into the bedrock and anchor six 12-inch posts, they discovered the bedrock was too uneven. Then they found the culvert underneath the site was compromised by rust and needed to be replaced.

They have since designed larger footings that do not need to tie into bedrock. The design and structural calculations were approved in May by the City of Idaho Falls Building Department.

Seydel estimates they have collected $56,000 in donations and grants, from the CHC Foundation, Idaho Cities Foundation and Japanese American Citizens League. Corporate support has come from Wal-Mart, Kohl's, CAL Ranch stores and other sources.

The professional team that has helped with the project includes:
  • Mark Andrus, G&S Engineering (structural design and certification)
  • Mike Bowcutt, DAFAB Construction (construction adviser/liaison)
  • Steve Dick, BMC Building Materials (scaffolding materials)
  • Kurt Karst, Alderson Karst & Mitro Architects (architectural review)
  • Mark Andrew, Alpine Timber (timber frame adviser)
Still, to get the job done she estimated they need another $5,000.

"This town really needs to know what has been going on down there for three years now," said Gloria Miller-Allen, a well-known Idaho Falls painter. "Many people do know it is there, but few know who is doing it, and fewer still know they are trying to build a pavilion. They are sand-blasting bricks with the names of contributors sometime soon. It sure would be nice to include a few more names on those bricks."
"I like how they're redoing it," said Cheri Okelberry of Idaho Falls, who was in Pedersen Sportsmans Park today taking pictures of her friends Daniel and Katie Paulson at the Japanese lantern statue. "It's really beautiful. I remember when there really wasn't much." (Photo by Paul Menser)
"One thing leads to another then leads to another," said Seydel. "Someone will say, 'The deck looks too bare.' Or the meadow stream, it would look cool if there was a cement bridge."

One thing there is no shortage of is water, a necessity for any Japanese garden but a problem at Pedersen Sportsman's Park because of the crumbling fish runs that date back to the 1930s, when the local Sportsmans Association founded by Peder Pedersen hatched fingerlings there.

"Some of them are leaking into the shady, grassy areas," Seydel said.

The island's importance to the city is not lost on Seydel and her fellow volunteers. In 1865, it was where the toll bridge and stage stop were built. Eagle Rock grew from there, becoming Idaho Falls in 1891.

"It's a big part of the city's history," Seydel said. "When we started this we had no idea."

Anyone interested in contributing can contact Seydel at (208) 529-3144 or by e-mail at jcsjas@yahoo.com, or Ed Zaladonis at (208) 243-1920.

Drag boat drivers roar in for Saturday's Duck Race

Steve Anderson putting his drag boat through the paces on the Snake River late Monday afternoon. That's me in the passenger seat, not hanging on for dear life but close. (Photo by Melissa Bristol)
With a 620-horsepower Chevy V8 engine roaring at 160 decibels two feet behind you and the tachometer reading 6,800 rpm, it's hard to be anywhere but in the moment in a drag-racing speedboat.
Nevertheless, there came a moment of calm when I noticed Keefer's Island from an angle I'd never seen before. Neat! Then it was over, gone in the wake.

Yes, Monday was demonstration day for reporters interested in the speedboats coming to the Idaho Falls Rotary's Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race, which takes place Saturday. Steve Anderson was on hand with his machine, and rides were made available to those brave enough to take one.

Since 1991, this event has been raising money to help develop the Greenbelt along the river. In its first 12 years, the race raised over $750,000, which has been led to more than $2 million being spent on Greenbelt development -- trail paving the replica of the Taylor Toll Bridge on the spot where Idaho Falls was founded in 1865.

The speedboats, which can reach speeds of over 100 miles per hour, were introduced 12 years ago to make the day more exciting and to raise more money.

"Most of the ducks are sold the day of the race, and people were coming at 4 o'clock," said Mark Baronian, who oversees the boat racing. "They figured if they put on something earlier they might sell more ducks." As a result, sales jumped 25 percent, from $60,000 to $80,000.

For the dragboat race, the field is split evenly between amateurs and pros. The course is 3/16-mile long, a compromise between the amateurs, who wanted 1/4-mile and the pros who wanted 1/8-mile. All races will be straightaway, Baronian said.

A full schedule of Duck Race events can be found here: http://www.duckrace.com/Default.aspx?alias=www.duckrace.com/idahofalls.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

All About Socks store planned for Idaho Falls

All About Socks, a Utah-based chain that specializes in socks of all sorts, has signed a lease for a store at 2155 E. 17th St., in the Teton Village shopping center. An opening is anticipated for Aug. 23.

The first store opened in 2010, but the company dates back to 1991, when Ken Wong and Hillary Lin started Lin Manufacturing in Logan, Utah. The couple have turned the company into one of the largest sock manufacturing companies in the world, making bamboo, compression, diabetic, high performance and novelty.

With all about socks, they had a vision of cutting out the middle man, and bringing well-made socks for the best prices to the public.

The company's Web site can be found at this link: http://www.allaboutsocks.com/

Monday, August 5, 2013

Dunkin' Donuts opens in Utah; expansion planned into Idaho

This map indicates that Dunkin' Brands is developing other Western states before it comes to Idaho.
Link: http://www.dunkinfranchising.com/franchisee/en/whatsavailable.html#availability.
I know a lot of BizMojo Idaho readers salivate at the thought, so it is my great pleasure to report that a franchisee has opened Utah's first Dunkin' Donuts store and plans to open 15 more.

I was in Salt Lake on Sunday and saw the place, at 200 E. 400 South, with my own eyes. I resisted the temptation to buy a dozen donuts for the road. I had already eaten two servings of cobbler at a picnic, so my appetite was in remission.

The franchisee for the Salt Lake store at 200 E. 400 South is Sizzling Platter, a Utah-based restaurant management company. Sizzling Platter operates Dunkin' Donuts locations in Texas and manages restaurant locations across seven western states. Besides Dunkin' Donuts, they are involved with the Little Caesars, Sizzler, Red Robin and Hoppers Grill & Brewery brand. It operates Sizzler in Idaho Falls and was the operator of the Ruby River, which closed in 2009.

While Dunkin' Brands (also the owner of Baskin-Robbins) has been expanding aggressively in Asia, the Western United States have been a void. In fact, the company pulled out of California in the late 1990s and acknowledges that it faces some challenges regaining market share there.

Here's a link to a story that ran in April in Bloomberg Business Week: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-04-11/america-dunkin-donuts-next-frontier And here's a quote from the article that ought to bring joy to anyone who occasionally longs to have the front of his shirt covered with powdered sugar: Expanding west means California, as well as the 12 states back home still sans Dunkin' Donuts: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. By 2015, about two-thirds of the chain’s new U.S. stores will be in the western part of the country.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Middle Market companies report widespread need for more skilled workers

Source: Deloitte Development LLC
Here's an interesting story I found on Slate this morning and shared immediately with my friends at Eastern Idaho Technical College (and now I'm sharing it with you):

Want to help the economy? Don't get a four-year degree

The author's case is that American manufacturers are dying for skilled labor. The takeaway quote is from Chris Buch, sales manager for Omega Plastics, a Detroit-based company:

"American students need more encouragement to learn manufacturing skills," he said. "They need encouragement from higher education institutions telling them to look into manufacturing — there’s a home there for just about anybody."

A related link comes from a story July 2012 story in Bloomberg Business News: Companies Say 3 Million Unfilled Positions in Skill Crisis: Jobs.

As we debate the future of education in Idaho, these might serve as the basis for discussion. I would be curious to know how many Middle Market companies -- companies with annual revenues between $10 million and $1 billion -- there are in Idaho and eastern Idaho in particular.

The parapet of D Street: Imposing, medieval

Photo by Melissa Bristol
There's nothing like getting a different view of something. Here's the old pump tower at the D Street Underpass project looking positively medieval from down in the hole that's being dug for the new bridge's footings. Indeed, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" fans might imagine a French soldier up there, heaping invective on King Arthur ("I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.") 

The project is expected to be completed in June 2014. Here is a link to information about the project on the city of Idaho Falls' Web site: http://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/city/city-departments/public-works/engineering/construction-projects.html

Thursday, August 1, 2013

New Whitewater chef plans sleeker look, casual contemporary menu

Joel Henry, the new chef at Whitewater Grill
Chef Joel Henry says he hopes to have the Whitewater Grill on River Parkway opened back up by the middle of August. When it does, it will have a new menu and a sleeker look.

"We want to modernize it without making it cold," said Henry, 32, who grew up in Traverse City, Mich. It was there that he became executive chef of Poppycock's at age 21. He attended the Johnson and Wales College of Culinary Arts in Providence, R.I., but thinks there is no substitute for working in an actual restaurant kitchen.

"I believe in old-school no-frills cooking," he said. "It's a trade. You can go almost anywhere and get a job."

No-frills doesn't mean no imagination, however. "If you're not creative enough, there's no reason to be doing what you're doing," he said.

The new Whitewater menu will feature what Henry calls Casual Contemporary American food. He also plans to remodel the back of the restaurant into a tapas bar featuring small-plate dishes.

Next spring, the remodel will include the addition of a deck on the roof, where people can truly "eat by the tumbling waters." When that's finished, the restaurant will be able to handle 145 diners. Henry anticipates employing 15 people when everything is at full capacity.

To contact him, e-mail whitewatergrill208@gmail.com.

Apartments for seniors coming to Snake River Landing

Architectural drawings for Bandon River Apartments at Snake River Landing
Northwest Integrity Housing Co. and Thomas Development Co. announced today the development and construction of Bandon River Apartments, a senior apartment community located within Snake River Landing in Idaho Falls. Ground was broken in July, and the first unit is expected to open in the first half of 2014.

Bandon River will offer rental housing for eligible individuals over age 62. It is part of the second phase of residential development within Snake River Landing, following the construction of 34 single-family homes. Snake River Landing plans several other home types and residential options within its 400 acres.

“Building a new apartment community in Snake River Landing is an exciting opportunity for us to expand our eastern Idaho business platform,” said Tom Mannschreck, president of Thomas Development Co. and Northwest Integrity Housing Co.

Thomas Development Co. has developed Rosslare and Summerhill Apartments, as well as the Earl Building and 357 Constitution Plaza in Idaho Falls. “Our company takes great care to select the best locations for our apartment communities. Snake River Landing exceeds our selection criteria,” he said.

For more information about the Bandon River apartments, please call Thomas Development Co. at (208) 343-8877.

UI doctoral candidate honored for research at INL

Joshua Daw
Joshua Daw, a University of Idaho student completing his doctoral thesis work at Idaho National Laboratory’s High Temperature Test Laboratory, recently earned first prize in the Fuel Cycle Research Innovations competition for his paper, “Hot Wire Needle Probe for In-Reactor Thermal Conductivity Measurement” (IEEE Sensors, Aug. 2012).

In November, he will travel to the American Nuclear Society meeting in Washington, D.C., to accept the award, which is given to support innovation and higher education in disciplines related to the nuclear fuel cycle.

Daw's winning work, completed with INL researchers Joy Rempe and Darrell Knudson, addresses the question of how to measure thermal conductivity during irradiation. Thermal conductivity — which measures how materials conduct heat — is considered one of the most important physical characteristics of fuels. In most materials, it is measured by evaluating samples after being irradiated.

The “cook and look” approach, as Rempe calls it, is an invasive and expensive process. Previous methods for taking these measurements during irradiation required several assumptions that limited accuracy. Working at the INL, Daw developed a method to make such measurements with a hot wire needle probe. Data collected this way may lead to better simulation design codes and improvements to the next generation of nuclear reactors.

Daw has a passion for golf and began studying engineering because he wanted to be a golf club designer. It was a DOE-funded UI/INL research opportunity that led him to high-temperature instrumentation instead.

He expects to complete his Ph.D. next May. His post-doctorate plans include golf and more learning. "There are a few more degrees I am interested in, so who knows?” he said.