Monday, September 30, 2013

Carl's Jr. opens third Idaho Falls restaurant

A juicy burger from Carl's Jr., now with three locations in Idaho Falls
In case you're wondering, Carl's Jr. has opened its third Idaho Falls restaurant, at West Broadway and Utah Avenue. It happened on Thursday. I had hoped to be ahead of the curve and have an opening date for my faithful readers, but there was a change at the CKE Enterprises office in California and my trusted source, Kelly Grieve, was no longer there. Alas, her successors were not as good about giving me up-to-the-minute intelligence. I only noticed today that the store had opened.

Win a few, lose a few. This is the third time, so the thrill isn't what it was two years ago when the first Carl's Jr. was opening on 17th Street. And in the fullness of time, a new fast-food hamburger restaurant counts for little in the world of breaking news.

Nevertheless, here it is: Idaho Falls Carl's Jr. No. 3. If you're in the mood, they're waiting for you.

Idaho Falls Sperry Van Ness office ranks in nation's top 20

Congratulations to the Idaho Falls office of Sperry Van Ness/High Desert Commercial, which placed 20th in the nation in sales through the end of August. Individually, adviser Randy Waters ranked ninth.

Founded in 2001, Sperry Van Ness International has 137 independently owned and operated franchise offices in 31 different states and the District of Columbia. It has 780 advisers across the country and is one of the largest and fastest growing commercial real estate brokerage franchisors in the industry, with more than 1,000 advisors and staff serving more than 150 markets.
The company was recently recognized as a “Top 10 Brand in Commercial Real Estate” by the annual 
Lipsey Company survey. Based in Irvine, Calif., the organization provides brokerage, tenant representation, consultation, asset management, property management, leasing, accelerated marketing and auction services.
Sperry Van Ness affiliates represent clients in billions of dollars annually in office, multi-family, retail, industrial, self-storage, hospitality and land transactions. For more information, visit .

Friday, September 27, 2013

New Dad's Travel Center plans Oct. 7 opening

Dad's Travel Center General Manager Kevin Bird outside the new store scheduled to open a week from Monday.
The new Dad's Travel Center at Hitt Road and North Yellowstone is scheduled to open Oct. 7.

The center has 16 gasoline/diesel pumps and two extra high-speed diesel pump, said Kevin Bird, general manager for Dad's. Located on 47 acres, there is a 3,250-square-foot convenience store.

Bird said the plan has been all along to build a travel center on Hitt Road. Dad's moved in to a smaller store in 2003 to get a feel for the location, and was ready to move five years ago when the economy went in the tank. With their 10-year lease due to expire and the economy improving, they finally decided last year to develop the land.

It has been a big project. Making room for the store, the pumps and the parking lot they moved 871 dump trucks of topsoil. Landscaping is due to take place next week before they open. When finished, there will be areas for picnicking.

In the store, they are offering Champ's chicken, a brand that started in Auxvasse, Mo., in 1999 and now has more than 500 locations in the United States. They will also have pizza by the slice, baked onsite, from a well-known take-and-bake operator. They will have Reed's Dairy ice cream by the scoop and also be an outlet for Reed's Dairy products.

The store and the pumps are all lit by LED lighting, which is more expensive but brighter and more cost-efficient over the long haul, Bird said.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Natural Grocers now hiring, plans Nov. 12 opening in Idaho Falls

It's hard to miss something as big and purple as the Natural Grocers store being built in Idaho Falls.
Natural Grocers, a 58-year-old chain based in Colorado, has set Nov. 12 as the opening date for its 15,000-square-foot store on 17th Street, said Nancy Flynn, spokeswoman for the company.

In addition to the store, the developer, Leadership Circle, LLC, of Montrose, Colo., is seeking eventually to build a restaurant and a retail store on the 4.42 acres, but the only definite plans at the moment are for the grocery. The 4,816 square-foot-restaurant pad and 11,250-square-foot retail pad are listed with Randy Waters of Sperry Van Ness High Desert.

Natural Grocers has stores in 12 states, with six more scheduled to open this year. In 2011 it opened stores in Boise and Missoula, and most recently it opened a store in Helena, in December.

"We really cater to specialty diets, gluten-free, non GMO (genetically modified organisms)," Flynn said. Because of their small footprint (a Whole Foods store, by contrast, is typically twice the size) and their emphasis on personal communication and education rather than advertising, they are able to keep their costs down. "We feel like we're the label-readers in the market," Flynn said.

When it opens, the store will employ around 25 people. All the produce they sell is USDA-certified organic, and Flynn said they buy local produce "every chance we get."
The company's Web site is

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Whitewater Grill plans opening Monday, Sept. 30

Whitewater Grill chef Joel Henry
The new, totally redone Whitewater Grill is set to open Monday, a little later than originally forecast but Chef Joel Henry says it will be worth the wait.

"I wanted it to be the way I wanted," he said. Excluding the kitchen, the restaurant has been remodeled from front to back. "We wanted to modernize it without making it cold," he said. Paintings, photos and sculpture by local artists such as Elise Wilding are on the walls.

At the front, there is a dessert and espresso bar, in the middle a tap bar and lounge, in the back an 1,800-square-foot banquet and meeting room. Next spring he plans to build a deck on the roof that will increase maximum occupancy from 140 to about 170.

Henry, 32, grew up in Traverse City, Mich., and it was there he became executive chef of Poppycock's, a local restaurant, 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. 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.

Hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, with brunch from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To contact him, e-mail To find Whitewater Grill on Facebook, follow this link:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cramer appointed to be next Idaho Falls planning and building director

Brad Cramer
The Idaho Falls City Council has appointed Brad Cramer the city's planning and building director. The appointment will become effective Nov. 1, when Renee Magee retires.

Cramer has been with the city since 2006. A graduate of Hillcrest High School, he holds a bachelor's degree from Idaho State University in international studies and a master's from ISU in public administration.

Coming into the job, he said his top priorities will be updating some of the divisions codes and ordinances and making them more user friendly for the public, looking at ways to revitalize older neighborhoods and the central business district, and finding ways to continue to make Idaho Falls a premier place to live and do business. As the new Mayor and Council members come into office he will be working to understand their priorities and goals for the city, he said.

He and his wife, Michelle, have four children, two boys and two girls, ages 8, 6, 3 and 9 month.

Tacoma Screw Products pours foundation for store on North Yellowstone

Workers at the future site of Tacoma Screw Products on North Yellowstone in Idaho Falls.
Tacoma Screw Products, a 66-year-old company with 16 stores in the Pacific Northwest, is busy laying the foundation for its new Idaho Falls store, which will be about 10,000 square feet and similar to the company's stores in Boise and Twin Falls.

Company President John Wolfe said he knew very little about Idaho Falls before looking into the market out as a possible store location, but that he has been "impressed a lot by the upscale nature of development in the area."

Tacoma Screw Products' customer base includes retail, manufacturing, construction, transportation, aerospace, maritime, agricultural, food processing, recreational, institutional operations, and city, county, state, and federal governmental agencies. When customers need custom or special fasteners that are oversized, require special threading or bending, the company has a machine shop to fabricate them.

The company typically employs three or four people to work in a store and three or four people to handle outside sales.

Here's a link to a story about the company that ran last fall in the Tacoma News Tribune:

And here's the link to their Facebook page:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Melaleuca V.P. Damond Watkins in hospital following plane crash Thursday near I.F.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Damond Watkins and his family. Watkins, 40, vice president of corporate relations at Melaleuca, suffered a broken back in a plane crash Thursday afternoon about one mile south of Idaho Falls Regional Airport.

Watkins' father, Dane Watkins Sr., told the Idaho Statesman that his son was scheduled for surgery at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls at 11 a.m. Friday. He said he was told the procedure was expected to last four or five hours.

Watkins is Melaleuca's representative to the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, and he was returning from an IACI meeting in Boise when the crash occurred. 

Smart PJ's selected by Wal-Mart as contest finalist

We've been following Juan Murdoch and his Smart PJ's since last December. The scannable pajamas for kids have been featured on "Today" and Good Morning America."

Thursday we learned they have been selected by Wal-Mart as a finalist in its "Get on the Shelf" contest.

I was at headquarters in San Francisco last week and got the opportunity to pitch Smart PJ's to Walmart's buyers on camera!" said Murdoch, a real estate agent for Keller Williams East Idaho who got his idea at a training session on QR tags. "What a cool experience! Now that I'm a finalist, I will be needing your votes to get Smart PJ's on Walmart's shelf! Voting will take place when my episode airs in a couple weeks. ... Stay tuned for the date and time!"

To vote for Smart PJ's, follow this link:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Grand Teton Brewing offers 100 percent Idaho ale

Grand Teton Brewing Co. has released its Ale 208 Session Ale, brewed with 100 percent Idaho-grown grain, hops and pure Idaho spring water. The package imagery is inspired by and pays tribute to Idaho’s agricultural heritage and diversity.

“As broad and far reaching as this state is, we are all still Idaho,” said Steve Furbacher the company's president, CEO and owner, in a press release.  “We at Grand Teton Brewing are proud of the product we produce. We strive to bring you some of the best beer you can find.”

Founded in 1988 by Charlie Otto as the first modern microbrewery in the state of Wyoming, Grand Teton Brewing Co. now calls Victor home. The company is housed in an 11,000 square-foot building that includes production and packaging facilities, walk-in cold storage and warm conditioning as well as a pub, which serves as both a tasting room and retail shop.

The brewery was bought by Steve and Ellen Furbacher in April 2009.  Since then, the Furbachers have made significant changes to the brewery – adding much needed brewing equipment, fixing the bottling line and growing local events.  Production has more than doubled, from 4,900 barrels to 10,000 barrels annually, and California has gone from a tiny share to Grand Teton Brewing’s largest market. Overall the brewery's beers are sold in California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The Grand Teton facility houses a 30-barrel brew house where all beers are brewed, along with 970 barrels of fermenting tanks in the cellar, allowing for both ale and lager production.  Grand Teton bottles and packages all beer in-house and recently upgraded its 1920s and 1950s labeler and filler for much newer equipment.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chef Shane's Perspective opens in Sagewood Plaza

Shane and Giani O'Dell in their new restaurant, Chef Shane's Perspective, which opened Tuesday.
A new restaurant, Chef Shane's Perspective, has opened in Sagewood Plaza 3, 3192 E. 25th, near Jimmy John's.

Shane and Giani O'Dell had a soft opening Tuesday night and are now serving lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday brunch, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will start Sept. 28.

The lunch menu features soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps. Dinner leans more toward fine dining. O'Dell said he is trying to use local ingredients as much as possible and that the dinner menu will change with the seasons. The restaurant seats about 35 people.

For more information, visit their Facebook page at Chef Shane's Perspective. Or call (208) 932-2727.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Trainer to speak Thursday at first I.F. Ad Fed 'Lunch and Learn'

Troy Chipps
The Idaho Falls Advertising Federation will have its kick-off Lunch and Learn Thursday at noon at Dixie's Diner.

The speaker will be Troy Chipps of Prisma Training & Development.

Sign-in for lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. The presentation will run from noon to 1 p.m.
Cost is $12 for Ad Fed members and $15 for non-members.

If you plan to attend, RSVP to For more information about Prisma Training & Development, visit this link:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Museum of Idaho to screen 'Wrecking Crew' documentary Sept. 26 at Colonial

"The Wrecking Crew," a film by Denny Tedesco, will be shown Thursday, Sept. 26, at the Colonial Theater at 7 p.m. The director will answer questions after the screening, which is being presented by the Museum of Idaho, Chesbro Music and the Idaho Falls Arts Council. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students with ID, and are available online at
You may never have heard of Tommy Tedesco, but it's a safe bet you've heard him.

Tedesco was probably the most prolific session guitarist of the '60s and '70s and a mainstay of a group nicknamed "The Wrecking Crew," the focus of a documentary about an aspect of musical history few people know about.

While the Monkees were pilloried for not playing on their own records, the fact is in Los Angeles no one did. Not the Beach Boys, The Association, Paul Revere and the Raiders, etc.

"The group could have made a good record, but it would have taken a day," said Mark Lindsay, lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders. "These guys could do it in an hour, and in those days time was money. A record that was made on Tuesday would be on the radio the following week."

The film is directed by Denny Tedesco, Tommy Tedesco's son, who started showing it at film festivals in 2008. Tedesco started the film in 1996, after his dad was diagnosed with cancer (he died the following year). "My wife calls it the most expensive home movie ever made," he said.

That's because he expanded the project to interview everyone who had been on the scene. Glen Campbell and Leon Russell went on to successful solo careers, but the others' names you probably won't recognize: Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer (drums); Carol Kaye and Joe Osborn (bass); Don Randi and Larry Knechtel (piano); Barney Kessel and Howard Roberts (guitar). Before the '70s, session musicians were seldom credited for their contributions.

Getting the interviews was the easy part, Tedesco said, compared to getting the music. He has paid hundreds of thousands to publishers, record companies and the musicians union for the 120 music cues, almost all of them very familiar. The rights to hit songs like "Be My Baby," "Strangers in the Night" and "A Taste of Honey" don't come cheap.

To get the story told, Tedesco, 52, has taken out loans, refinanced his house and maxed out his credit cards. When he asked one record company for permission to use a certain song, they told him it would cost $2.5 million. He estimates he needs $175,000 before the rights will be squared away and the film can released commercially. Until then, he's limited to showing it at film festivals and for non-profits like the Museum of Idaho.

Most people have no idea how many records the Wrecking Crew made. Hal Blaine guessed that he played on 6,000 sessions. Tedesco said he thinks his father kept the same pace. In addition to hit records, Wrecking Crew members played on movie soundtracks and TV shows. Tedesco's guitar can be heard on "Green Acres," "Batman," "Mission Impossible" and "M*A*S*H."

"It was three or four dates a day for years," he said. "You're the first call, and they know what you can do."

On the festival circuit, nationally and internationally, the film has done has done very well. "I love watching audiences get off on it," Tedesco said. "Even the ones that know about it are still blown away by it. The greatest compliments are from the people who've been dragged to a documentary."

For more information about the film, visit this link:

Teri Ehresman elected president of the National Federation of Press Women

Teri Ehresman
Congratulations to Teri Ehresman of Idaho Falls, who has been elected president of the National Federation of Press Women.

Ehresman was elected to a two-year term to lead the national organization at a recent meeting in Salt Lake City. She has served as first vice president, second vice president and secretary of the organization. She also has served in many leadership roles in the Idaho affiliate, Media Network Idaho.

Ehresman works at the Idaho National Laboratory in the Communications and Governmental Affairs office as the communications lead for nuclear science and technology programs.  She previously worked as a reporter and editor for the Idaho Falls Post Register.

On a personal note, I've known Teri since 1981, when she was regional editor and I was the paper's staff writer in Challis.

NFPW is an organization of professional women and men pursuing careers across the communications spectrum. The organization has more than 1,000 members throughout the United States. It is committed to the highest ethical standards in communications, protecting First Amendment rights, professional growth, promoting the next generation of professional communicators and networking with other professionals. Its headquarters is in Washington, D.C.  For more information, visit

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Brown Bag Lunch Economics 101

The classic brown bag lunch as perfected in the '70s by my mother, Edie Menser. Total cost in today's dollars: $1.86, including tax (yes, I pay Idaho a nickel for the privilege of eating a bologna and cheese sandwich.)
How much are you paying for lunch every day? I bought a meal at McDonald's a few weeks ago (I know, I know ...) and with tax it was more than $6. Do the math. If you eat out every day, you're probably paying $30 to $40 a week, or $120 to $160 a month. That's pretty expensive rent for something as small as your stomach.

I got a substitute teaching job (p.e. at Skyline) today, and in honor of my mom, Edie Menser, I decided to pack her classic sack lunch: bologna and cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I opted for bologna and cheese); Wheat Thins; an orange; and a Hershey bar.

These were the lunches Mom packed for day hikers when she and my dad ran the out-camping department at Camp Merrowvista in the1970s. She made them by the hundreds. On the trail in the Ossipee Mountains or the White Mountains, nothing ever tasted so good.

Getting back to the economics, on the basis of the receipt from WinCo I have calculated the costs as follows (I have rounded the figures):

Sandwich: 49 cents
Wheat Thins: 32 cents
Orange: 45 cents
Hershey bar: 49 cents

Total: $1.75, or $1.86 if you add tax. Assuming you work five days a week, your weekly cost,  counting tax, would come to $9.30 or $37.20 a month.

For the sake of variety you can substitute Triscuits for the Wheat Thins, an apple for the orange, and Nestle's Crunch for the Hershey bar. Use your imagination. Buy in bulk and save even more. What a wonderful world! Thanks for teaching me thrift, Mom.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Open house on Sunnyside Road access issues today

Sunnyside Road, looking east from I-15 to the Snake River.
The section of Sunnyside Road between the Snake River and I-15 is becoming the hottest commercial real estate in town.

On the north side of the road, Teton Toyota has been there since 2008 and is breaking ground on a new Volkswagen dealership any day (opening is planned for 2014). On the south side, the Smith Group is grading land for its Chevrolet and Honda dealerships, both with valuations of $2.5 million, according to the Bonneville County Planning and Zoning Office.

The Bonneville Metropolitan Planning Organization, is holding a public open house on "access issues" in this area today from 4 to 7 p.m. at Sunnyside Elementary School, 155 Cobblestone Lane. BMPO's mission is to provide transportation planning for the cities of Ammon, Idaho Falls, Iona and Ucon, as well as urbanized portions of Bonneville County. Its offices are at 1810 West Broadway, Suite 15. Its Web page is

Women's business clothes needed for aid effort

Click on the image above to see a larger version. This is a great thing for women who need to get a foot in the door of the professional world.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chamber members learn about small modular reactors planned for eastern Idaho

The desert west of Idaho Falls was once home to 50 reactors. Those days are gone, but if an Oregon company has its way the Idaho National Laboratory will be the site for 12 modular reactors generating 545 megawatts of power by 2025.

The regulatory hurdles are formidable and the permitting process alone will cost $1 billion, said Michael McGough, chief commercial officer for NuScale. A subsidiary of Fluor, NuScale has had a prototype small modular reactor in operation since 2003. McGough was in Idaho Falls Tuesday to speak to the Partnership for Science and Technology and the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce.

An artist's rendering of how NuScale's small modular reactor assembly would work. For a full story, visit this link:
Compared to a typical pressurized water reactor of 1,000 megawatts, the  advantage to a small modular reactor of 45 megawatts is that it is a "plug and play" proposition, McGough said.

Fluor wants to market nuclear power plants to the world, which is why it bought NuScale in October 2011. "They want to build power plants around the world," he said.

It is possible that NuScale plants could be going online abroad sooner than they might in the United States. Right now, the company is waiting to hear whether it is going to receive $226 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to help in the design certification process with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A decision could come as early as next week, and if it happens they anticipate having their design certification application submitted -- typically a 10,000-page document -- submitted to the NRC in 2015. The review of that application would take 39 months, after which they need to get NRC permission to build.

"There's lots of things you have to do, and you have to do them right," McGough said.

Unlike traditional reactors, which rely on electric pumps to keep water on the fuel rods to keep them from melting, NuScale's self-contained, self-circulating reactors shut themselves down during a station blackout.

As for the selection of Idaho Falls, it's a case of going where you are wanted. "If the community won't support it, you just shouldn't try," he said.

The Western Governor's Association has had nuclear energy on its mind for the past three years. New hydro-electric projects aren't in the cards, and new coal-fired plants are out to the question. Wind and solar are intermittent sources and heavily subsidized. That leaves natural gas and nuclear for big baseline loads.

In June this year, at its conference in Park City, the Association released its "State of Energy in the West" report. One of the stated goals was to find ways to accelerate introduction of small modular reactors into Western states.

Shortly after that, NuScale announced the launch of the Western Initiative for Nuclear, a demonstration project in Idaho to be built and owned by a consortium of regional utilities including Energy Northwest and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), the latter of which Idaho Falls Power is affiliated with.

Much will depend on who gets the $226 million from DOE, which would be disbursed over five years. Westinghouse Electric, Holtes International and General Atomics have also put in for the funding.

Rosemark plans open house at new building

Rosemark's new building at 3450 Potomac Way.
Rosemark WomenCare Specialists will be holding an open house Thursday afternoon from 4 to 7 at its new location, 3450 Potomac Way, off Sunnyside Road.

Although the practice's focus is on obstetric and gynecological medicine, Rosemark's doctors are also available as primary care physicians for every patient. It also provides a broad range of specialized medical services, such as bone density assessments, help for urinary incontinence, and aesthetics.

The new 10,347-square-foot facility was begun in the fall of 2012. The permit at the city of Idaho Falls Building Department assigned it a value of $2 million. Those valuations are based on square footage and don't take into account any of the equipment or furnishings a building may contain.

The Rosemark office at 808 Pancheri remains open, and Rosemark also serves patients at the Blackfoot Medical Center, 1441 Parkway Drive, Blackfoot. For more information, call 557-2900 or visit the Web site,

Monday, September 9, 2013

Harvest Fest and Outdoor Expo set for Saturday at Snake River Landing

Labor Day and the state fair are over, which means fall is almost upon us and it's time once again for the East Idaho Harvest Fest and Outdoor Expo.

Presented by Riverbend Productions, Harvest Fest this year will be Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Snake River Landing in Idaho Falls.

Harvest Fest was started in 2006. Riverbend acquired the show from Blue Fox Events in 2013 and added the Outdoor Expo. There will be recreational vehicles, ATV’s, motorcycles, snow machines, boats, and booths for winter and summer adventure companies, plus opportunities to meet hundreds of outdoor experts and enthusiasts.

At Harvest Fest there will be:

  • Live onstage entertainment
  • 15 Food Vendors
  • Apple Athletic Club Cooking Tent (Secret Ingredient Cook-off
Pie Bake-off, Chili Challenge, Salsa Showdown)
  • More than 100 Local Exhibitors
  • Free Game Areas:
  • Z103’s Chicken Scratch
  • NewsTalk 97.7FM’s Bean Bag Toss
  • KLCE’s Pumpkin Bingo
  • KBear’s Tater Toss
  • 105.5 The Hawk’s Fall Bull Riding

Riverbend Productions is a division of Riverbend Communications, whose stations include Classy 97, Z103, 105.5 The Hawk, KBear 101, Newstalk 97.7FM, and 690/1260AM (on which I have a guest spot most Tuesday mornings from 8:06 to 8:30. The company is locally owned and operated by Frank and Belinda VanderSloot.

For more detailed information on the Harvest Fest and Outoor Expo, follow this link: Harvest Fest

Friday, September 6, 2013

New child care center opens on Idaho Falls' west side

Lil' Red Schoolhouse, a new child care and learning center, has opened at 762 Vassar Way, on Idaho Falls' West side.

The staff is taking applications for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years. Its philosophy is to encourage developmental growth and learning through a loving and safe environment. The owner, Jill Derr, has more than 20 years experience in child care. Staff members are CPR and first aid certified. Snacks and lunch are included in the price.

Hours are 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call (208) 520-2147 or visit

Givin' Meth the Boot event set for Sept. 13

The Idaho Meth Project is joining Mountain View Hospital and other community partners in Idaho Falls to raise money for the Idaho Meth Project's statewide prevention campaign.

A "Givin' Meth the Boot" dinner set for Sept. 13 is the sixth event led by Mountain View Hospital and the office of Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter to help raise funds and bring community awareness to the issue of methamphetamine use in Idaho.  Other major partners in this year’s event include Cooper Norman, CWI, (CH2M-WG Idaho), Ball Ventures and Snake River Landing.

“Several members of our team have been touched personally by meth. Their pain has inspired me and our team to spend thousands of hours a year to organize events that support the Idaho Meth Project,” said James Adamson, president and CEO of Mountain View Hospital.

“We’ve seen some great strides in our state in combatting the meth issue, including a 50-percent reduction in teen meth use, a significant drop in clandestine lab rates, and are beginning to see a decrease in meth-related treatment admissions,” Adamson said. “There’s just so much more work that can be done, and the Idaho Meth Project is the only non-profit organization in the state focused on preventing meth use.”

The private event will feature dinner, live music by the Kelly Hughes Band, a mechanical bull and a live auction with  Otter serving as guest auctioneer. Auction items include vacations to Jackson Hole and Deer Valley, tickets to the sold-out Boise State/BYU football game, and a private dinner with the governor and First Lady Lori Otter, who helped start the Idaho Meth Project in 2007.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m.  Tickets are available for $75 each at, but seating is limited so contact Executive Director Gina Heideman at (208) 331-2060 to ensure your seat.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Smart PJs get segment on NBC's Today Show

Smart PJs were featured Tuesday morning on Today.
Juan Murdoch's Smart PJs continue to roll ahead in the publicity world. This week they made it on to The Today Show. Here is a link to the segment:

Murdoch, an agent with Keller Williams Realty in Idaho Falls, first got the idea for Smart PJs while attending a training session about QR tags. "What if?" he thought.

The first shipment of Smart PJs came last Christmas and has since sold out. The second one arrived this week. Shipping is being handled by Elevate Fulfillment, which has a warehouse on Lindsay Boulevard.

When you scan the dot pattern on a pair of Smart PJs, it will pull up pictures of animals or bedtime stories. There are 47 dot patterns on each pair.

The idea is so unique that it gets attention from everyone -- ABC's "Good Morning America," Fox News' "Fox and Friends," and now "Today." Murdoch said that when that segment aired Tuesday morning the Smart PJs Web site went wild, as did the phones. "We got calls from all over the country," he said.

Murdoch said he is finally close to breaking even. As hopeful as he is about the future -- he is working with a licensing company in New Jersey that handles a lot of big name clients -- he still has his day job. "It's a work in progress still," he said.

BizMojo Idaho marks second birthday

Today marks the second anniversary of this blog, BizMojo Idaho. Time flies. My first post, "Picking up where I left off ... " ran on Sept. 5, 2011. I won't reprint the whole thing, but here's some of what I had to say:

"I suppose there's a bit of presumption on my part getting back into the saddle, but over the past three years enough of you have told me you miss my writing to make me believe my name is still worth something. ...

"My old approach to the weekly business column was three-pronged: pay attention to what's going on around town (new construction, signs, etc.); answer people's questions, no matter how trivial or far-out they seemed; and keep the tone personal and conversational. That approach worked, and I see no reason to do anything different. The timing will be different, however. Instead of once a week in print, our plan is to update BizMojo Idaho all the time -- online, on your iPhones and Droids, on Facebook and Twitter."

The counter has told me I have posted 724 times since then, which is almost every day. There have been a few interesting lessons learned along the way. Number one, share everything on Facebook, not just what you think will be interesting to readers because it happens to interest you.

This community remains as restaurant-obsessed as it was in the days when people were asking me "When are we getting an Olive Garden?" Now the focus is on Costco, which would be nice to have, but informed sources tell me that it's still a ways off -- if it's going to happen at all.

The nicest thing about this project has been reconnecting with the community. Two years in, I think I've finally reached the point where I don't have to explain to everyone what I'm doing. People have even approached me about advertising (this I have found gratifying). Regular readers check in every day, and I feel an obligation to have something posted for them.

The effort has rewarded me with constantly improving numbers. July and August were the best months ever, both for visitors and page views.

If you have any questions, call me. Likewise if you see anything interesting. Take a photo with your camera and email it to me. We live in an age of conversation and sharing. I don't mind at all. In fact, I love it.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A+ Credit Union to merge with Mountain America

A+ Credit Union of Idaho Falls will be merging with Mountain America Credit Union at the end of the year.

Formerly the Idaho Falls Teachers Credit Union, A+ was originally established to serve educators in the Idaho Falls area. Mountain America dates back to 1934, when it was originally the Salt Lake Telephone Employees Credit Union. It changed its name to Mountain America after merging with Postal Workers Credit Union in 1984. In 1988, Mountain America merged with Utah State Credit Union, becoming the second largest credit union in Utah and today it has branches in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. It also belongs to an extensive shared branching network as well as several ATM networks, including the CO-OP Network,which allows members to complete surcharge-free transactions at more than 28,000 ATMs nationwide.

A spokeswoman for A+ said the merger will allow their members to enjoy a much wider array of services. The A+ office at 525 Sunnyside Road will remain open.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Copper Rill Restaurant opens in old Rutabaga's location

Jud Wilcox and Shandi Fujimoto, who opened Copper Rill Restaurant on Saturday night in the old Rutabaga's location.
Those of you who mourned the passing of Rutabaga's on River Parkway will be glad to know that a new restaurant, Copper Rill, has opened there and that the chef, Jud Wilcox, used to handle the dinner menu for Rutabaga's.

Wilcox and his partner, Shandi Fujimoto, opened the restaurant Saturday and are bringing it up to speed this week. While Wilcox worked for Rutabaga's in the days when it was owned by Wesley Beard, most recently he was at Whitewater Grill.

He received his culinary training at Johnson & Wales University near Providence, R.I., where he was also on the wrestling team ("It was the only college in the country with a culinary school and a wrestling team, so it's where I went," he said.) He spent four years as a chef tournade for the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo., consulting in restaurants and kitchens for executive chef Ziggy Eisenberger.

The key to a successful restaurant is having the right people. "Staffing is huge," he said. "And just caring about what you do."

Although he learned the fundamentals of classic French cooking in college, the menu at Copper Rill is broader and more eclectic, ranging from mahi-mahi tacos ($11) to filet mignon ($28). The Web site is not active yet, but the menus will be posted as soon as it is, Fujimoto said.

To whet your curiosity (and perhaps your appetite), here is Copper Rill's lunch menu:

Stats show local economy chugging along

Surveyors from Primary Construction of Boise mark out the ground on Utah Avenue where the foundation for Panda Express will be dug and poured in the next week.
Maybe it's the conditioning we get from school, but I've always considered September the beginning of a new year. Summer's almost over, and in the 30-plus years I've lived in the Rocky Mountain states it's always seemed like the weather can be counted on to change the Saturday or Sunday after Labor Day.

There wasn't much at the Idaho Falls Building Department this morning, so my fallback position was to look at the numbers from our favorite sources to get a feel for the local economy. The real estate market has been cooking this year, according to Patrick Malone of High Desert Realty, whom I ran into at the City Hall annex. Following up on our conversation, I looked at the marketing statistics from the Snake River Multiple Listing Service and compiled this chart:
As you can see, sales are up significantly, as are prices and new listings.

I also found it interesting that unemployment seemed to have dropped significantly from last year. I'd be curious about any reports of underemployment -- people working at part-time rather than full-time jobs, or for less money than their training or experience would warrant in a robust economy.

Last of all, here are building statistics from the city of Idaho Falls, which show a lot of action on the new construction of single family dwellings: