Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Random Musings: From rubber cement to Google page rank

Confession time: I can not say the word "media" without inwardly cringing. I started with a typewriter and a pot of rubber cement*, and I feel entitled to consider myself a member of the press for as long as I want.

Nevertheless, well into the 21st century it should be obvious to anyone this Internet craze shows no sign of ending. If I am to keep eating, I must acquaint myself with such things as search engine optimization, keywords and page ranks.

I am a "content generator" now, and if one goes by my Google page rank I'm not doing too badly. Last week I ran across a Web site, http://page-rank-calculator.com, where you can enter your URL and it will give you your page rank and an arbitrary monetary value. After two-and-a-half years, BizMojo Idaho has a page rank of 3 (moderately impressive) and a valuation of $2,460 (not as impressive, unless you know something I don't.)

I've read the highest page rank one can get is 10, but I think it's 9, because 9 is the page rank Google and Facebook have achieved and let's face it, who's going to get a better scores than Google or Facebook?

Oh yeah, IRS.gov is a PR 9 site, as is the much-maligned Healthcare.gov. Apple has a 9, Microsoft has 8, which ought to spark some debate, I'm sure.

Are the Beatles really more popular than Jesus? It's actually a tie. According to the Page Rank Calculator, both TheBeatles.com and Jesus.com have PR 6 ratings. (Note: Jesus.com is actually the URL of Metropolitan Community Churches. It was very canny and perhaps very bold of them to stake their claim to this Web address.)

If you want to check out your own site, I've posted the link. Just don't come crying to me if your score doesn't measure up to your expectations.

Here are a few links that explain the meaning of page rank better than I can. I found them by Googling "page rank explained," and these were the top three results:

PageRank (Wikipedia)
What Is Page Rank and How Do I Use It?
The Google Pagerank Algorithm and How It Works

*When we wanted to move sentences and paragraphs around in a story, like we do on computer screens today, we would cut the typewritten copy and paste the sections where we thought they belonged. It was primitive, but I'm proud to have come from that era.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Togo's franchise planned for Idaho Falls

A picture of a Togo's from the company's Web site 
Togo's Eateries, has announced it will be coming to Idaho Falls, as part of an expansion that includes franchise agreements to develop five restaurants in eastern Idaho and eight in Salt Lake City.

The Idaho Falls restaurant is one of five that Ty and Debbie Jenkins are signed on to develop, along with Twin Falls, Pocatello and Rexburg. Ty Jenkins is CEO of DocuTech, a company that develops and markets Web-based mortgage compliance software.

Overall, Togo's has more than 325 locations open and under development throughout the West. Last year, the company launched a franchise development incentive program to drive expansion in key growth markets. Both new and existing franchisees who sign new agreements for three or more locations receive reduced royalty fees for the first two years for each new restaurant developed in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Nevada and Arizona. Additionally, franchisees benefit from $10 million for remodels and transfers, as well as $5 million to build new restaurants.

To become a part of the Togo's team, candidates should possess liquidity of $150,000 for a single restaurant and a net worth of $300,000. Area developers looking to develop three or more restaurants should have liquidity of $450,000 and net worth of $900,000. Special incentives are available for qualified franchisees interested in opening three or more restaurants.

Grow Idaho Falls adds staffer

Kim Merrill
Grow Idaho Falls has added Kim Merrill to its staff, joining CEO Linda Martin and Business Development/Investor Relations Manager Tami Henvit.
Merrill has come back from Boise's Treasure Valley, where she was a real estate advertising representative for the Idaho Press-Tribune.

Before moving to Caldwell, I knew her as an advertising account representative for the Post Register. Welcome back, Kim. It was a truly pleasant surprise to see you Tuesday at the Mayors' Business Day.

Grow Idaho Falls, for those who need a little background, is an investor-based economic development organization that started in the early 1990s as Initiative 2000. It became the Eastern Idaho Economic Development Council before changing its name to the less cumbersome Grow Idaho Falls.

For more information about what they do, call 522-2014 or visit the Web site, www.growidahofalls.org.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Martina McBride to headline Hawkfest 2014

Country superstar Martina McBride will be the headliner this year at Hawkfest 2014, sponsored by 105.5 The Hawk and Riverbend Productions.

Tickets for the July 5 show go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. at hawkfestidaho.com, in person at the Idaho Falls Arts Council box office, 498 A Street.

The recipient of more than 15 major music awards, McBride got her big break opening for Garth Brooks. She starred with George Strait on his “Cowboy Rides Away” tour.

The festival will also feature Craig Morgan ("That’s What I Love About Sunday," "Red Neck Yacht Club," "International Harvester," "Wake Up Lovin’ You"), ACM Top Vocal Group Gloriana ("Wild At Heart," "Kiss You Good Night," "Best Night Ever") and new country artist John King ("Tonight, Tonight"). For more information, visit

Riverbend Productions is a division of Riverbend Communications, which operates Classy 97 (KLCE-FM), Z103 (KFTZ-FM), 105-5 The Hawk (KTHK-FM), KBEAR 101 (KCVI-FM), NewsTalk 97.7FM (KLBY-AM/KBLI-AM), Riverbend Outdoor, and Riverbend Digital.

Are resumes relevant anymore? The answer is yes

Over the past year I have done a lot of recruiting projects. From receptionists to executive director positions, I have spent hours sifting through resumes to help clients find the perfect person for the job.

Each of these recruiting projects required candidates to submit resumes, and one question I always get asked is “Are really relevant anymore?” The answer is, without a doubt, yes.

Don’t get me wrong – I think a strong and polished online presence is important. It is crucial to keep your social networking profiles up to date and professionally appropriate (if that term sets off questions and alarms in your mind, let’s talk). Yet an up to date and well crafted resume can be even more important.

Think about this: When was the last time you were asked to submit your Facebook profile or log-in information to be considered for a job? I am hoping the answer to that question is never. On the flip side, how many times have you been asked to submit a resume to be considered for a job? I am guessing 9 out of 10 times (LinkedIn now allows job applicants to submit their profile in lieu of a resume for selected employers posting jobs, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt if that has ever happened.)

It is realistic to think a potential employers may sneak a peak at your social networking profiles after reviewing your resume and developing a genuine interest in you as a candidate.

Still, the key to this is that it happens after your resume has been reviewed. Resumes are necessary to getting your foot in the door for a position or with a company. They are self-marketing pieces that should be designed to make you shine both personally and professionally.

Being on the hiring side of employment, I can tell you that taking time and careful planning in creating a marketable resume pays off. Think of your resume like you would a commercial. Those in positions of recruiting and hiring are used to seeing a lot of resumes for one job posting. While all job seekers hope potential employers would spend 30 minutes reviewing and considering their resumes, it’s more likely that a resume has about 30 seconds to make an impression.

Keep in mind most management people will complete a more thorough resume review after a position closes, but that initial 30 seconds has a major impact down the road.

Resumes are and will continue to be a powerful tool in recruiting and assessing candidates for a position. They also figure into consideration for promotions, awards and positions of community involvement.

They aren’t going away anytime soon, so make sure you have a well crafted resume that is up to date. Need some extra tips on how to create a rocking resume? Stay tuned for next week’s feature – I’ll share some of my resume building tips from the recruiting side.

Monica Bitrick is a human relations consultant who lives and works in Idaho Falls.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Teton Volkswagen plans to open in early June

Teton Volkswagen will be opening on Sunnyside Road, next door to Teton Toyota, the first week of June. This was announced Saturday night at the Idaho Falls Symphony's "From Russia With Love" concert. Being active in the community, dealership owner Mario Hernandez is a strong supporter of the Symphony. The dealership moved at the end of February from its location on Outlet Boulevard to Anderson Avenue, not far from where the Toyota Dealership was before it moved in 2008.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Registration deadline is tomorrow for Mayors' Business Day

You have until tomorrow to register for the Fifth Annual Mayors' Business Day, scheduled for Tuesday at O'Callahan's Convention Center in the Shilo Inn. Click here to register online.

This is an event that began in 2008 under Idaho Falls Mayor Jared Fuhriman and has since expanded to encompass surrounding communities.

The event will start with breakfast at 8 a.m. with Mayors Rebecca Casper (Idaho Falls) and Dana Kirkham, welcoming guests. A panel discussion, "Maximizing Southeast Idaho's Business Development Resources," will follow, featuring Linda Martin, CEO of Grow Idaho Falls; Steve Albiston, president of Eastern Idaho Technical College; and Corey Smith, managing director of the Eastern Idaho Entrepreneurial Center. The discussion will be moderated by Tim Hopkins, longtime Idaho Falls attorney and a board member of the Idaho Falls City Club.

From 9 a.m. to noon and there will be breakout sessions, and all day there will be a business-to-business tradeshow. The keynote speaker at lunchtime will be Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, who will give his take on the state's economy. More breakout sessions will be held from 2 to 5 p.m., followed by a Business After Hours.

Cost for breakfast is $10 for members of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce, $12 for non-members. Lunch is $20 for members, $25 for non-members. A full schedule of events can be found here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Looking Back" preview; check out tomorrow's paper

Corey Feldman and Corey Haim in the '80s.
Some of you may be aware that I've begun writing the "Looking Back" column that runs in the Post Register every Thursday. It's a feature I did between 1996 and 2008, and one that gave me a lot of pleasure.

Because the Post Register is protective of its copy, I am not going to reprint the column on my blog. Once I file the story it's theirs, and I don't want to mess up the arrangement I have with them or engender any ill will.

Here's a preview of what's coming tomorrow. If you subscribe, cool. If not, maybe you should, or get an online subscription. Pick up a newsstand copy, at least. I still own stock in the company, but even if I didn't I am a big believer in newspapers and their importance to our democracy.

Here's the rundown:
1914: Downtown, especially Park Avenue, was looking forward to another busy building season.
1939: Did you know there used to be party tickets in city elections? Not Republican or Democratic, but "Peoples" and "Citizens."
1964: Despite everything you read and hear today, bullying in schools is nothing new.
1989: Corey Feldman and Corey Haim perform benefit at Bonneville High School.

I remember the Coreys' visit, and seem to recall the managers of the newly built Shilo Inn were not impressed with their behavior.

New Japanese restaurant planned for Woodruff Avenue

The sign for Ninja's Lunch Box, on Woodruff Avenue near Gandolfo's Deli.
A new Japanese restaurant, Ninja's Lunch Box, is going in at 1635 S. Woodruff Avenue. Annie McMurtrey of ROI Brokers, said the business owner, Micky Lin, still needs a building permit before remodeling work begins, but that the plan is for the restaurant to open sometime in July.

Lin was a chef at Evergreen China Buffet. Ninja's Lunchbox will offer sushi as well as teppanyaki, a style of Japanese cuisine that uses an iron griddle to cook food.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Work on 17th Street Starbucks entering home stretch

I coming out of Jaker's Monday night when I noticed this sign on a trailer across the street. One can only assume it is for the new Starbucks being built at 17th Street and Jennie Lee Drive, which is scheduled to be open by the end of May. Stay tuned for more details.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Recruiting is about marketing as much as anything

Recruiting is tough these days. Long gone are the days when you could put a classified ad in the newspaper and find the perfect candidate.

Successful recruiting in today’s market requires perfectly crafted campaigns that relate more to management than HR management. That seems a little far-fetched, I know, but businesses looking to find good candidates are having to get creative and strategic in how they market their recruiting efforts.  There’s a lot of work that goes into every aspect of recruiting, starting with a job posting.

Job postings serve two purposes:

1. To attract potential candidates for a position through a catchy yet condensed description of the position

2. Marketing the business. Contrary to what you might think, recruiting has everything to do with marketing your business.

Think of it this way – job postings are posted in print (newspapers and magazines), online (social media, company website, job boards), and can even be advertised through radio ads.  These are all traditional media outlets in which businesses are trying to capture public attention. This means that whether you like it or not, people are looking and listening to the message your company is creating through its recruiting effort. This is a big deal and should be taken very seriously.

Put yourself in the job seeker's shoes for a moment. What would the posting look like?  What would it say?  What would it not say? By putting yourself in a job seeker's shoes and trying to see things from his or her viewpoint, you are starting to identify with your target market.

This is important on top of identifying who your target market is. What qualifications and experience do they have, and what personal qualities? Creating and understanding your target market alongside a well-composed posting is key in recruiting, not only from a public viewpoint but also to attract successful candidates.

Understanding and identifying your target market helps you to better create strategies for where to post and how often. Also, it allows you to look at resources or ways to further market your position through networking opportunities and groups, to get that direct approach with a captive audience, small or large.

Like a true marketing campaign, marketable recruiting requires ongoing efforts and strategies for potential candidates to maintain interest in your business. This requires time and planning between HR management and marketing professionals. If your effort is strategically planned and executed, it will result in successful recruiting efforts and retention of employees. That in turn will result in a return on investment for the time and resources spent creating marketable recruiting strategies. 
Monica Bitrick is a human resources consultant who lives and works in the greater Idaho Falls area.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

BYU-Idaho rated "most underrated" by Business Insider

It needs to be noted that the University of Wyoming is the only four-years school in the Cowboy State.
Earlier this week, Business Insider published a list of 50 underrated colleges around the country—one from each state. The Web site's editors partnered with Niche to determine the schools with the best academics and highest acceptance rates.

In Idaho, that distinction went to BYU-Idaho. "It may be hard to believe that there are so many opportunities to develop skills in a given area from attending a little school in Rexburg, Idaho, " said the summary. "But just as BYU-Idaho takes huge steps in innovating learning and maximizing resources, students learn to be innovative hard-workers who know how to problem-solve and communicate effectively."

While some people may think these schools are “safety schools” because of their high admissions rate (BYU-Idaho's was 99 percent), their strong academics prove they’re much more. You can click here for a statistical breakdown of the schools.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Freddy's Frozen Custard set to build near WinCo Foods

Here's what a Freddy's Frozen Custard typically looks like. 
Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers has filed a site plan with the city of Idaho Falls to build at 355 North Woodruff Avenue, on a site pad near WinCo Foods.

Site plans are the first step in the process, before a property is platted and a building permit is issued. A spokeswoman for the chain, based in Wichita, Kan., confirmed last December that a franchisee was negotiating a real estate deal in Idaho Falls.

Freddy's was founded in 2002 by two brothers, Bill and Randy Simon, whose father, Freddy Simon, was the inspiration for the restaurant (and obviously its namesake). The first franchise launched in Hutchinson, Kansas, in 2004 and by October 2013 the company had opened its 100th location, in Bowling Green, Ky.

According to the Web site, Freddy's plans to open 400 more stores over the next 10 to 15 years.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Collective for crafters to open at Park and A Street

Remodeling work at the corner of Park Avenue and A Street is going on in preparation for the opening of The Collective, planned for May 1.
Vacant for several years, the old Inkley's building at Park Avenue and A Street is finally going to open back up as The Collective Artisans and Crafters Boutique, a place where crafters and artisans can show and sell their goods.

Scott and Tiffani Duff are heading the project, which will occupy 4,200 square feet of the main floor. The two have been going to craft fairs for more than five years and met a lot of people who told them they could use a place in Idaho Falls where they could sell their stuff.

"These people typically have other jobs," said Scott Duff (who himself works for the Idaho Cleanup Project). "The don't make enough or sell enough to open their own stores."

He said they toyed with the idea of a co-op like Boise's Indie Made, but opted instead to manage it themselves. "All they have to do is make their products," he said.

An Idaho Falls native, Duff said he excited to be downtown. "I've loved that building since I was a kid." He credited Kevin Cutler of Sperry Van Ness High Desert Commercial with hooking them up with the building's owners, Chad and Kari Campos.

The Campos plan to develop the upper floors of the building into residential lofts, said Cutler (who is  president of the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corp.) With a lot of downtown properties, it's easier to renovate the upstairs when someone is paying the rent downstairs, he said.

In addition to display space, there will be a classroom where vendors can teach, Duff said.

They are shooting to have the doors open to the public May 1, with a grand opening scheduled for May 10. To check on their progress, visit their Facebook page here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Policies limiting employees' activities off the job need to be crafted with care

With a case being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby has been no stranger to the media this past year

Last week the company's name came up once again on a satirical Web site called the Daily Currant. The Currant's story -- a work of fiction -- was about a 33-year-old Hobby Lobby sales associate who claimed she'd been fired because she'd filed for divorce from her alcoholic husband. Hobby Lobby, which claims to base its business model on Biblical standards, considers divorce a sin and grounds for termination.

The story featured some colorful "comments" by David Green, Hobby Lobby's CEO. While it was satire (other Daily Currant headlines: "North Korean Leader Has Perfect NCAA Bracket" "US Bans The Import of Russian Vodka") – it brought up a good topic for discussion. Just how far can an employer go in limiting an employee’s life outside the workplace? 

As employees, many of us spend more time at our jobs than we spend at our homes or with our families. It would only seem logical that the moment we leave the workplace we are free to be ourselves without fear of consequences from our personal choices and activities, right?

For the most part. I would say that a number of employers don’t monitor their employees’ after-hours choices or activities. Over the past few years, however, I have seen major management practices and trends start to focus on what employees are doing outside the workplace if it's likely to have an impact on business.

Exactly how far can an employer go in limiting what an employee can do outside of work hours? Last year I remember having a conversation with a colleague who is a manager at one of the major car dealerships in southeast Idaho. He said their dealership had implemented a policy in which employees were advised they could not wear their dealership attire in public after hours if there was any possibility they might behave in a way that would reflect negatively on the dealership.

A company that does government contracting has to maintain an even higher level of monitoring. Battelle Energy Alliance, CWI and Bechtel Marine Propulsion all have very strict standards on what employees can and cannot do after hours if they don't want to risk their security clearances. There have been cases in which employees have been terminated due to misdemeanor convictions, credit issues and questionable behavior.

A company can limit the outside activities of its employees if it can prove that a person's behavior has a negative impact on the company (e.g. loss of sales, civil/criminal cases, contractual obligations, etc). Additionally, a company can implement what is called a bona fide occupational qualification to identify qualities or attributes in the hiring and retention of employees. These are more narrowly defined though employment law.

If your business is or has considered limiting outside activities of employees, it’s important to identify what those activities are and why the company does not allow them. It is also important to be mindful that a company cannot identify every action an employee might take that could have a negative impact, and that trying to broadly identify those areas could cause more harm than good.

Policies or procedures that limit people's activities off the clock should be crafted very carefully and reviewed by an HR professional and/or an employment attorney. This is to ensure that employers are not overstepping boundaries and putting themselves in situations where there might be legal liabilities.

Overall, it’s important for companies to understand the impact their employees' after-hours activities might have. But limiting those activities beyond reasonable levels can be damaging to the company and the employee base.

Monica Bitrick is an independent human resources consultant who lies in Idaho Falls.

Luncheon to focus on politcal advertising

Michelle Ziel-Dingman and Dayne Dingman, the team behind Artcore Visual Studio, will be the guests next Thursday at the Idaho Falls Advertising Federation's monthly Lunch 'n' Learn.

Artcore was integral in the election last fall of Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Caper, and political advertising will be the subject of the talk. Do basic marketing principles apply? The presentation will focus on the subtleties in the carefully crafted messages of political candidates that can be applied with advantage to any type of advertising or marketing campaign.

The lunch will start at 11:30 a.m. at Dixie's Diner, on Channing Way. RSVP Lisa if you plan to attend. Tickets can be bought in advance here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Quizzes, aggregation, etc.: What's an old print dog to do?

A metaphor for life, perhaps?
I recently filled out one of those Facebook quizzes, one asking "Are you a journalist?" I passed. :)

This is probably because I know how to use the word "affect," e.g., "The publisher affected an air of haughty condescension." I also know the difference between e.g. and i.e. How 'bout that?

With the results duly posted, I wrote, "I feel like a polar bear standing on ice that's melting out from underneath him." On reflection, that's probably true of my whole life. When it comes to my career, I made my bed a long time ago.

Anyway, I picked this Vanity Fair article by Michael Kinsley off my Twitter feed Thursday morning and as a former newspaper person I found it interesting, so I'm sharing it. If this is what's called aggregation, a dirty word at a lot of newspapers today, I plead guilty.

One passage caught my attention, should you choose not to open the link: "(Most) newspapers aren’t very good and wouldn’t be missed by anybody who could get The New York Times or USA Today and some bloggy source of local news." I don't want to go near that one.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Eagle-based developer eyes land near Pancheri overpass

An Boise-area developer is looking to bring commercial development to 25 acres south of Pancheri Drive to the west of Interstate 15, but it will require an amendment to the city's comprehensive plan before anything moves forward.

At the moment, the land there that is in city limits is mapped out for high density residential development. Zoke LLC, an Eagle company, is seeking to have it rezoned to HC-1 (Highway Commercial). The first step will be a May 6 public hearing by the Idaho Falls Planning and Zoning Commission.

Paul Hilbig, Zoke's site acquisition manager, said he is reluctant to disclose any details this early. But on his LinkedIn profile, Zoke's mission is described this way: "We help growing franchisees and companies find the perfect 'next location.' Franchisees are excellent at running their companies, but when it comes time to expand, things get daunting. We are able to use our decades of real estate experience to find the perfect location, design the perfect site plan and get all the necessary government approvals. We then construct the building and sign a long-term lease with the franchisee or company. We do all this at no charge to the expanding business."

Monday, April 7, 2014

What's not to love about Human Resources?

Someone asked me recently, “You look so young, yet you come with so much experience. How did you get into HR?”

Without giving you my whole resume, here's what happened. I found a job in college that was flexible with scheduling, with an international HR outsourcing corporation called Workscape.  After college, I went to Manpower Staffing, then, after moving from Boise to Idaho Falls, to Advantage Employer Solutions. Finally, I made the big decision to start my own business.

Over 14 years, I've worked with everyone from IBM, GM, Nokia and Whole Foods down to small businesses with one or two employees. From almost the beginning, I recognized I loved HR because I loved working with people. I loved helping people who hadn't received their insurance ID cards and helping people get hired after searching for months. Designing policies and procedures to help streamline business operations -- maybe that wasn’t my favorite part, but I have had the opportunity to do it a lot. HR is a vast array of disciplines and knowledge all centered around a company’s greatest and most valuable resources, its employees.

Because it covers so much, HR can be misunderstood and often hated by both employers and employees. I’ve spoken to a number of business people who loathe anything employment related. In their minds, it’s best to maintain simple HR management. I've also dealt with employees who view the HR department as the company’s KGB for “handling employees.”

The funny thing is, both sides are insanely wrong and could do themselves a big favor by changing their mindset about HR.

Businesses do not have to seek out and hire a true HR professional to maintain great HR management practices. I have seen HR management conducted successfully by office managers, supervisors and business owners. I will say, however, that in order for HR management to be successfully integrated into a business it is important that the person in charge of HR has proper training, experience, knowledge and a steady commitment keep up on the latest developments. There are numerous HR training programs, blogs, newsletters, webinars, organizations, professionals and consultants, all available at the click of a button.

No matter how small, it’s increasingly important for every business to integrate HR management into its organization.  HR management has become the front line for business against potential legal liabilities, but also helps businesses to operate more efficiently and effectively. If you don’t integrate HR management into your organization, I can promise you will continue to have long-term issues that go far beyond losing your last unemployment claim appeals hearing.

For employees, HR professionals are not always the “bad guys.” Ideally, their job is to manage all employment related issues in a fair, impartial and streamlined manner. I understand this doesn’t always happen, but keep in mind most of the time there are probably about 50 things that go into a situation that you will never have any idea of, and a lot of them have to do with employment and labor law compliance. I just ask you to be more open-minded in knowing that their job is to be impartial and fair.

In simple terms for both sides, HR is an advocate of both the business and the worker. While every business may not have a dedicated HR professional in them, those responsible for HR management should in theory be this advocate for both sides of the employment relationship. If that’s the case, what’s not to love about HR?

Monica Bitrick is a human resources consultant based in Idaho Falls. She writes a weekly column on HR issues for BizMojo Idaho.

Friday, April 4, 2014

City plans public workshop Wednesday on trails, bike paths

The City of Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation Division is holding an open house Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. to review the Connecting Our Community draft plan. The meeting will be held at the Marriott Residence Inn.

The purpose of the Connecting Our Community plan is to make improvements in the pedestrian and bicycle trails and paths in the Idaho Falls area. Working with information received through a mail-in survey and open house workshops, the planning will include the examination of funding options for improvements in trails and roadway crossings and the expansion of on- and off-road paths that will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to get around the city better.

There will be a short presentation by Joe Gilpin of Alta Planning and Design, followed by an opportunity for members of the public to review and comment on the draft plans, including a conceptual plan for a proposed mountain bike park.   

In October 2013, Idaho Falls residents received a two-page, 21-question survey inside their utility bills. The survey was distributed in Ammon, Iona and Ucon in community newsletters. In the 1,115 surveys that came back, respondents identified three plan priorities: more connections to the greenbelt; safe routes to schools; and new and improved trails overall and along canals.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Site plan filed for Home2 Suites at Snake River Landing

A drawing of a Home2 Suites hotel, from the Hilton Worldwide Web site.
It looks like a new extended-stay hotel is in the works for Idaho Falls, a Hotel2 Suites by Hilton at Snake River Landing.

Horrocks Engineers filed a site plan March 25 at the Idaho Falls City Annex. This is the first step toward getting a project up and running, with engineers from all city departments looking at the plans and suggesting revisions.

What is being proposed is a project at the southwest corner of Snake River Parkway and Whitewater Drive covering 94,425 square feet, with parking for 112 vehicles.

Home2 Suites was launched in 2009, the first new brand introduced by Hilton Worldwide in 20 years. Since then, 21 hotels have opened, 21 are under construction and more than 80 properties are scheduled for development. The development focus has been on the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The design concept for suites is one of a "working wall," incorporating kitchen and flexible working space by connecting separate living and bedroom zones. Meanwhile, an "Oasis" features more than 4,000 square feet of space for guest work or play.

The footprint is typically under two acres, and the 107-suite prototype features four-story wood-frame construction. Properties are designed to be built in under one year.

Snake River Landing's parent company, Ball Ventures, already has a relationship with Hilton Worldwide, having developed the Idaho Falls Hilton Garden Inn nearly 10 years ago.
An interior view, offering a look at the kind of style Hilton is going for with Home2 Suites.

EIRMC names new chief operating officer

Jeff Sollis
Jeff Sollis has been named as chief operations officer at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical, according to a hospital news release.

Sollis has been with EIRMC's parent company, Hospital Corporation of America for seven years. Sollis he comes from Timpanogos Regional Hospital, a 122-bed hospital in Orem, Utah, where he served as COO. Before that, he worked at North Suburban Medical Center in Denver, Colo., and at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kan.

As COO, he will lead several departments, including medical imaging, pharmacy, laboratory, therapy services, plant operations, nutrition services, environmental services and EIRMC's Behavioral Health Center.

He holds a bachelor of arts degree in behavioral health from the University of Utah and a master's degree in health administration from Virginia Commonwealth University.