Saturday, May 31, 2014

Chick-fil-A coming to BYU-Idaho

Chick-fil-A will be opening later this summer inside The Crossroads food court at BYU-Idaho.

Construction is expected to begin in July in the food court, which is inside the Hyrum Manwaring Student Center.

The BYU-Idaho Chick-fil-A location will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. As with all Chick-fil-A locations, it will be closed on Sunday. The restaurant will be open to students and the public.

Chick-fil-A is the largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the United States with 1,816 locations in 39 states and annual sales of more than $5 billion. The chain has almost 260 licensed locations on college and university campuses and inside business complexes and airports.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Mega-garage sale is in slightly more than two weeks

There are two weeks and a day left until East Idaho’s Biggest Garage Sale, in the Hillcrest High School parking lot.

This year it will be June 14 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you are interested in getting a booth there, it would be wise to act now. There are a limited number available, all first-come, first-served for commercial and non-commercial vendors.

Non-commercial/residential booths are specifically for household items that you want to sell. Rather than having your own garage sale, this is an opportunity to join hundreds of other garage sales in one big, festival event. The sale is being advertised on all five Riverbend radio stations. Last year, nearly 10,000 people came to the event.

Cost for a non-commercial/residential booth (20x20) is $30. A double booth of 20×40 is $60.

Commercial booths are specifically for businesses and manufactured items that you would normally sell in a brick & mortar or online business. Traditionally, you would have a to get a sellers permit/license and to conduct business as a business owner. East Idaho’s Biggest Garage Sale is a non-traditional trade show/event where you can meet thousands of people in a “sidewalk/clearance sale” style. This event also does well for direct sales types of businesses such as Scentsy or Pampered Chef.

Cost for a 20x20 commercial booth is $250, and a double booth, 20x40, is $400.

There will be no refunds available on booth space.

Tables are available for rent from Signature Party Rentals for $20 each. Chairs are available for $5 each.

Want to know more? Click here or e-mail

Vendors will be allowed to set-up from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, June 13. Exhibits must be fully set-up by 6:30 a.m. on June 14, subject to a $50 penalty.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Teton Volkswagen plans to open doors June 6

Teton Volkswagen on Sunnyside Road is planning to open its doors June 6, with a grand opening to follow in August.
Teton Volkswagen, currently on Anderson Street, will start moving its cars June 6 to its new Sunnyside Road building.

"The doors will be open, and we anticipate moving all the cars there between the sixth and the 10th," said Doug Swanson, marketing manager for Teton Volkswagen and Teton Toyota. A grand opening has been set for Aug. 7, in conjunction with a Business After Hours.

Teton Volkswagen opened on Outlet Boulevard, on the west side of Interstate 15, in January 2013. Earlier this year it moved its operations to Anderson, in a holding pattern as it built the new dealership on Sunnyside.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Grape Van Gogh opens on 17th Street

Amber Birch, owner of The Grape Van Gogh, a studio and performance space on 17th Street where participants can come to drink wine while they learn to paint.
If you've ever thought you might have a remnant of Rembrandt or a piece of Picasso inside you, Amber Birch of The Grape Van Gogh, 2289 E. 17th Street, would like to ease you into the process.

Birch, formerly a nurse at Bingham Memorial Hospital, opened her business this spring after visiting a paint and sip in Utah last year. It was in the middle of an eight-month vigil for her infant daughter Ava, who was at Primary Children's Medical Center until she passed away in November. In the middle of this emotionally devastating ordeal, a friend took her to drink wine and paint under the direction of an experienced art teacher.

"It was so freeing," she said.

Birch went on to do research and discovered that Pinot's Palette was rated one of Entrepreneur's top franchise opportunities of 2014. Painting With a Twist was another one. Although she could see the advantages of franchising, she decided to pattern Grape Van Gogh after those businesses while keeping her independence.

With 2,250 square feet and several tables, the business is big enough to accommodate large parties. Birch has four instructors -- Jaidyn Erickson, Becca Towler, Christa Nycamp and Tamarine Henslee -- who work from the stage, directing even first-time painters on how to get great results with acrylics.

A private party of adults must be 10 people or more, each paying $35. This covers the cost of instruction, canvas, brushes and paints. Kids' parties, ages 4 to 7, are $15 a person and $25 for kids 8 to 15. People 21 and over can bring their own beer or wine to functions. For youngsters, Birch has a bar equipped to serve Italian sodas.

A grand opening is scheduled for June 20. For more information, call 524-2202, visit the Grape Van Gogh's Web page here or its Facebook page here.

The slow, painful death of the employer benefits package

I was lucky in college -- extremely lucky, in fact -- when it came to my career. At age 19, I landed a job as a benefits specialist for Workscape, Inc., where I worked the entire time I went to school. I took my job seriously and worked hard. I knew a lot was expected of me working for a corporation that size so early in my career.

After completing my 90-day probationary period, I was handled an envelope titled “Benefits Package.” I had no idea what a benefits package was, nor did I care. I threw the package away within a few days of receiving it. There wasn’t anything I really needed, nor did I want to pay for anything that would have taken away from my “fun fund” for weekend parties and shopping trips.

My mother, who covered me under her benefits, felt differently. This became apparent after her open enrollment period opened the following fall. So I finally bit the bullet and enrolled in medical, dental, life insurance, and disability because my mom said I had to.

As I dove into my career in HR, I was quick to learn the value that a benefits package has in attracting good employees and retaining them. Working with companies like GM, IBM and Nokia, it became clear to me from the top down benefits were serious business with employees. Open enrollment period was always a hectic nightmare from August through December. The headaches during that time didn’t even begin to shine a light on the enrollment issues that happened in January and February with the transition from old benefits to new benefits, file transfers to carriers, and let’s not even talk about new id cards for group health benefits. After a year or two it became clear to me that benefits had a major impact on businesses. So I adopted the same thinking.

For decades, employer-provided benefits have been a key to securing and retaining qualified talent. As Baby Boomers leave the work force and Millenials step up, however, businesses are taking a hard look at their benefits packages and their value to employees.

While federal law does not require basic benefits offered to employees beyond workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance and accurately paying/reporting wages and taxes for employees, most full-time employees expect to be offered some minimal benefits. In fact, businesses of any size need to consider what benefits they can offer to employees that provide value beyond a steady paycheck and fair salary.

Long gone are the days of basic and boxed benefit packages. Employees in today’s workforce are demanding benefits that add value to their lives in and out of the office. What employees value most differs from workplace to workplace, and from employee base to employee base.

Without employee input, it would unreasonable, unfair and not financially feasible to determine and pay for the benefits you feel your employees value most.

Have you ever conducted a benefits survey or asked your employees what benefits mean the most to them and why? You might be surprised to learn some of the least expensive “benefits” may be the most valued by your employee base.

For example, flexible and fair paid time off programs (including vacation, sick and holiday pay) are one the most highly demanded benefits by employees in companies of any size. Employees need time away from work and don’t want to suffer any economic hardship. Another highly popular benefit that companies can offer are product or services discounts such as company cell phone service discounts or discounted gym memberships. These often cost a company little to nothing but can be used by employees and their family members.

While there is no magical answer as to what benefits should or shouldn’t be offered, it is still clear that the right benefits still have an impact on today’s workforce. Companies should challenge themselves to seek out and offer benefits that are perceived as being valued by their employees if they wish to remain competitive in attracting and retaining a solid and loyal work force.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

D Street project entering home stretch

A train passing over the new D Street bridge. To the left is the "shoefly," used to keep traffic moving while the bridge was being built.
Work on the D Street Underpass in Idaho Falls is entering the home stretch, but with a caveat. We are talking about a project that involves the railroad, which means everything usually takes longer than expected.

Trains are rolling over the structure, which means the "shoefly" that was constructed to accommodate traffic while the structure was being built will be removed. But the original plan was for trains to be rolling over the structure by January, and it didn't start happening until this month. While the projected date for the underpass reopening on the city's Web site is still June, Kent Fugal of the city's public works department said they expect it to be more like late July, even as late as mid-August.

When finished, the structure will have two westbound lanes, one eastbound lane and a wide sidewalk (which will be at the same level as the street). Although there will be no lane specifically dedicated to bike traffic, Fugal said the lanes will be wide enough so that riding a bike downtown won't be the terrifying experience the old structure provided so amply.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Convention in Las Vegas could have bearing on what happens in Idaho Falls

The scene at RECon in 2012
I get asked all the time what's coming to town (Costco, Hobby Lobby, Dunkin' Donuts?) and I wish I had a crystal ball that would tell me that myself. Alas, I do not, but if you're looking to speculate on big retail names I would point you to the International Association of Shopping Centers, which had its annual RECon in Las Vegas this week.This is the global convention for the shopping center industry, attracting 32,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors. I know there were people from our area there, and I'm certain that whatever you may see happening at developments like Sand Creek Commons (Sunnyside and Hitt, where Cabela's has already committed), is likely to have its origins in conversations that took place at RECon.

Looking at the ISCS's news releases on RECon, this is the link I found most interesting: Retailers at RECon Are Hungry For Space to Grow. One name in this release jumped out, Sprouts Farmers Markets, based in Phoenix-based, with 172 stores and a long-term plan to expand that number to 1,200. Here is a report from Monday night with a lot of interesting information about demographics that could have a bearing on what happens here: Retail Trends 2014.

A few key points from this story:
  • Total employment in the U.S. today stands just short of where it was in 2007 before the recession. Excluding government jobs, private sector jobs now exceed where they were at the beginning of this recession.
  • Consumption is 70 percent of our economy. Today, retail sales in the Unites States are 14 percent higher than they were at the peak in 2007.
  • The 20-to-34-year-old demographic group will account for $2.5 trillion of sales by 2015, an incredibly important driver of where we are and where we are headed.

The 20-to-34-year-old demographic group, which by 2015 will account for $2.5 trillion of sales, is an incredibly important driver of where we are and where we are headed. - See more at:

The 20-to-34-year-old demographic group, which by 2015 will account for $2.5 trillion of sales, is an incredibly important driver of where we are and where we are headed. - See more at:
The 20-to-34-year-old demographic group, which by 2015 will account for $2.5 trillion of sales, is an incredibly important driver of where we are and where we are headed. - See more at:

Total employment in the U.S. today stands just short of where it was at the prior peak in 2007 before the recession,” emphasizes Nadji. “If you were excluding government jobs, private sector jobs now exceed where we were at the beginning of this recession.” - See more at:

Total employment in the U.S. today stands just short of where it was at the prior peak in 2007 before the recession,” emphasizes Nadji. “If you were excluding government jobs, private sector jobs now exceed where we were at the beginning of this recession.” - See more at:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New management team begins at Blacker's Tuesday

Collin Cook
Tuesday will mark the beginning of a new era for Blacker’s Complete Home Furnishings in Idaho Falls and Blackfoot, as it will be the first day of business for the new executive management team of Connie Wood and Collin Cook.

Longtime Blacker’s employees, Wood and Cook have taken the reins from founder and owner Stan Cook, who has gone to Uruguay to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His departure was marked by a retirement celebration and sale that lasted nearly three months.

With more than 20 years' experience each, the two have learned the business from the ground up in every facet, from sales and delivery to buying and merchandising.

“Our goal throughout the retirement sale, and over the next couple of months, besides honoring Stan’s decision to retire, has been to eliminate old inventory and free up warehouse space,” Collin Cook said.

Connie Wood
“This will enable us to continue offering the name brands we’re known for, and to also focus on bringing new looks and innovative new products to the floor.”

Serving eastern Idaho and western Wyoming, Blacker's started more than 37 years ago in Blackfoot when Stan Cook purchased Walker Appliances. He expanded the lineup to include furniture, mattresses and home accessories.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

AmeriTitle promotes Hajek to assistant vice president, area manager

Richard Hajek Jr.
AmeriTitle has promoted Richard Hajek Jr. to assistant vice president and area manager of its east Idaho operations. Hajek will maintain his position as general manager of AmeriTitle’s Idaho Falls, Rigby, and Rexburg branches and will now oversee operations in the Pocatello and Ketchum-Sun Valley branches.

Hajek has 12 years of industry experience, beginning his title and escrow career with AmeriTitle in Salem, Ore., in 2002. In 2007, he moved to Idaho Falls to assume the general manager position. He serves on the board of the East-Central Idaho Development Co. and previously served on the Idaho Falls Country Club Board of Directors. He is a member of many local organizations, including the Exchange Club of East Idaho, the East Idaho Home Builders Association, the Upper Valley Association of Realtors, the Greater Idaho Falls Association of Realtors, and local chambers of commerce.

Hajek grew up in Medford, Ore., and lived in the Salem/Portland area for 5 years before moving to Idaho Falls. When not working, his hobbies include playing percussion, golfing, biking, traveling, and most outdoor activities. On a personal note, Rich was the drummer in my band Happyville from mid-2011 to late 2013, and  I can say I have never met a nicer person who had to look at my backside as long as he did.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ditch the Flowers – Employee Recognition Deserves More Time and Thought

Once upon at time, before I quit my job and started my own business, I was just an average employee like the 90 percent of the world. I went to work, put in a hard day’s effort, came home to spend time with family and started the routine all over again the next day.

My last career transition took me from a Fortune 500 company to a small office of three. When it comes to employee recognition, ’ll never forget one day in particular at my last job. As I was pounding away at my computer, feverishly updating an employee handbook for a client, a flower delivery came to the office. The arrangement was simple yet elegant, with flowers that screamed springtime but not high price.

I worked with two men, so instantly I knew the flowers were likely not for them. My name was carefully printed on the card. A little surprised and perplexed, I took the flowers back to my desk. I wondered if my husband had called in a delivery to surprise me, but that didn’t seem to add up. So I opened the envelope and read the card. The card read “Happy Administrative Professionals Day! We appreciate all you do!” It was signed by both of my bosses.

While that seems like a very kind gesture, it sent a mixed message to me. At the time I received these flowers I was not a receptionist, administrative assistant or general office support person. In fact, I was managing and directing the entire human resources division of this company, overseeing HR management for over 50 clients and a few hundred employees.

As an employee I recognized the gesture was meant to make me feel appreciated, but in fact it almost did the opposite. It made me feel that my bosses viewed me as basic administrative support.

I can tell you that never happened again in our office. My bosses found other ways to recognize me and encourage me -- probably by trial and error, but at least based on some knowledge of what motivated me personally and professionally.

This is why it is so important to carefully craft how you do your employee recognition within a company. What you may feel are thoughtful efforts could actually be perceived by your employees as something completely different. The occasional company-paid lunch, company party or office potluck are great ways to break the monotony of the work day, but they should never be the only efforts you do to recognize your employees. Trust me when I say there are thousands of ways to recognize your employees and show them you appreciate, all of them cost efficient and effective.

How do you do to show your employees you care and how do you do it? For starters, put yourself in their shoes for a minute. Think about what would mean most to you as an employee if you were being recognized by your company. What could the company do to recognize you as an employee to make you feel valued? Maybe offer an extra paid time off day? Lunch time massages? Many massage clinics will offer free chair massages at your business just to help increase their business.

Think above and beyond bonus checks and potlucks and try to envision what would mean most to them. Remember as children, after working hard on a project or chore, getting recognition from your parents or teachers and how much it meant to you? Positive recognition and reinforcement is just as effective for adults as it is for children.

I am not suggesting that you have a smiley face sticker board for employees or a treasure chest. Everyone wants to feel like their work has a higher purpose.

From support jobs all the way up the ladder to management, finding ways to recognize and appreciate the employees for the work they do jobs makes a difference.

Taking extra time up just to change up the day-to-day can also make a difference when it comes to employee recognition. Encourage feedback for a specific idea or change from employees, and then
make a point of not only implementing the change but communicate to all employees the reason for the change and that it came from an employee's suggestion.

Making the workplace “fun” is also a way to recognize employees. Locally, one of our major employers in southeast Idaho held one of its annual conferences in Orlando, Fla., and rented out Disney World for the entire company. I know the rest of the world may not be able to manage such a fun effort, but think outside the box on this one. Maybe an afternoon of team-building through the summer, with outdoor activities like golf, zip lining or scavenger hunts around the office (if you have a large enough one) or town.

While there is no magical answer to how you should recognize your employees, your efforts should
reflect your company culture and employee base. Taking time to carefully craft your employee recognition efforts can have greater rewards than just boosted employee morale. You can have a dedicated, engaged and loyal workforce that makes a difference with your company for many years to come.

DocuTech expands product management team

      Judy Lysaght                 Anthony Williamson
DocuTech Corp. of Idaho Falls has added Anthony Williamson to its product management team and expanded the duties of Judy Lysaght.

As a consumer lending product manager, Williamson is responsible for product development to ensure DocuTech’s consumer lending products remain competitive and profitable. Lysaght has expanded her role within DocuTech and now serves as a mortgage lending product manager. She will promote its flagship software, ConformX, and be responsible for the direction of DocuTech’s mortgage lending products and services.

With more than 25 years in the banking industry, Williamson previously served as product manager of deposit and treasury management products for Infosys Ltd. and as product manager of business banking deposits for Wells Fargo. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science in economics and holds an MBA from Portland State University.

Prior to her new assignment, Lysaght served as senior implementation project manager for DocuTech. She has also held management and consulting positions with Fairfax, Va.-based Headstrong Business Services and holds a Project Management Professional license from the Project Management Institute. She graduated from the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Fla. with a Bachelor of Science in marketing and holds an MBA from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Idaho Falls' sesquicentennial is next year

Matt Taylor's toll bridge at Black Rock Canyon, which opened in 1865, near where the Marriott Residence Inn now is now.
I'm sure there are people who know next year is Idaho Falls' sesquicentennial year, but I wonder how many? I haven't heard much talk about it and, as someone who finds it much too easy to fall a step or two behind on things, I think the planning should start now if it hasn't already.

I was in the Post Register newsroom in 1985 when there was a "Centennial Plus 20" celebration. I thought it was kind of lame, but apparently not much had been done in 1965 and there were people, including my friend Joe Marker, who thought something, even 20 years late, was better than nothing.

For those of you who need an refresher course, here's a brief history of Idaho Falls' origins. They begin in the heart of downtown, at a place that used to be called Black Rock Canyon.

Matt Taylor
James Madison "Matt" Taylor was a teamster from the Midwest who'd begun taking supplies from Salt Lake City to Montana after gold was discovered there in 1862. Taylor would buy tea in Denver, take it to Salt Lake and barter it for eggs, butter and salt pork. This was good business, because there were lot of LDS converts from England and one pound of tea got him 34 pounds of butter.

Although the Eagle Rock Ferry was operating nine miles to the north, Taylor liked to camp at Black Rock Canyon because the swift current of the Snake River there kept mosquitoes to a minimum. It didn't take long for it to dawn on him that it might be a good spot for a toll bridge. In 1864, he and two partners, W.F. Bartlett and Edgar M. Morgan, formed the Oneida Road, Bridge and Ferry Co., the first corporation in this part of Idaho. In the fall, Taylor traveled 700 miles to Lewiston, the territorial capital, where he received a charter from the Legislature to operate the ferry and build his bridge. Under the terms of the 20-year agreement, the state would receive 1 percent of the tolls for the school fund.

Construction went on all winter and the bridge opened in May. Taylor's first advertisement for the bridge ran Aug. 12, 1865, in the Daily Telegraph of Great Salt Lake City.

Once the bridge was open and a trading outpost built, Taylor's wife, LeGrande Anderson Taylor, came west to join him. According to "Bonneville County in the Making," Barzilla W. Clark's history, she was appalled by the primitive conditions, particularly the smell of the hides. Nevertheless, her brother Robert Anderson arrived at the end of October 1865, buying Morgan's stake in the Oneida company and bringing valuable eastern banking connections with him.

The telegraph came in 1866, as did a post office and the first irrigation project. The railroad came in 1879, and I think that really set the table for everything that followed.

Did you know that the first Protestant church between Ogden and Butte, Mont., was in Eagle Rock? It was largely the work of Rebecca Mitchell, a widow in her 40s with a teen-aged daughter. In 1882 she was on her way from Chicago to Bellevue to do Baptist missionary work. Money had begun to run short when the train stopped in Eagle Rock. Surveying the town and noticing no schools or churches but plenty of saloons, she decided this might be where the Lord was calling her to straighten things out. By Sunday she had conducted her first Sunday School class and on Monday, with the same 18 children, she organized a day school using a closed-down saloon on Eagle Rock Street as the classroom.

Before long she had lined up a lot on the corner of Eastern Avenue and Ash Street, and with help from the Baptist Mission Society and private gifts First Baptist Church opened its doors in August 1885. Eagle Rock became Idaho Falls in 1891, reportedly to make it less frontierish and more appealing to people in the Midwest seeking new opportunities.

Bill Holden and Idaho Falls Mayor Tom Sutton, during the push to bring the Atomic Energy Commission headquarters to Idaho Falls.
In the 20th century, I don't think there was anyone more important or influential than William S. Holden, the lawyer who masterminded the campaign to bring the Atomic Energy Commission here in 1949 and the Palisades Dam to Swan Valley in 1957. He was "Mr. Republican," and on the walls at his family spread on Palisades Creek there are there pictures of him with Ronald Reagan as well as an impressive collection of memorabilia from Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign. Holden ran for the U.S. Senate nomination in 1956, but because there was another moderate seeking the nomination they split the primary vote and lost to the McCarthyite incumbent, Herman Welker, who was defeated that fall by Frank Church.

From all the history I've read, I believe that nothing really changes much. The business of Idaho Falls has always been business. Matt Taylor set up here because he had a head for it. The first safety vault of what later became Anderson Brothers Bank was a keg of nails, where he hid surplus gold dust, gold certificates, greenbacks from the store, and depositors' money.

I hope we can get something together to celebrate 150 years here. As much as we like to think we're moving forward, the past matters.

Idaho Falls Regional Airport terminal remodeling finished

The remodeled terminal at Idaho Falls Regional Airport. That's former airport manager Jim Thorsen in the foreground. Although a frequent flier, Thorsen was at the airport Tuesday for a meeting of the Airport Citizen's Advisory Committee.
I'm not sure how many of you have been through the Idaho Falls Regional Airport lately, but the $2.7 million terminal remodeling and expansion project is finished. A ribbon cutting is scheduled for June 10. The work at the northwest end of the terminal involved 47,570 square feet. Most importantly, the TSA baggage screening operations have been taken out of the lobby and integrated into the baggage check-in process (this means no more handing your bags to TSA then hauling them across the lobby.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rotary honors Broadway Ford owner for community giving

Broadway Ford owner Mont Crnkovich and Idaho Falls Rotary Club President Jackie Flowers with the F-150 pickup Crnkovich is donating as a grand prize to this year's Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race.
Mont Crnkovich, owner of Broadway Ford in Idaho Falls, was award the Rotary Club's Paul Harris Award for the support he has given the Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race over the years.

For the seventh straight year, Broadway Ford has donated a new pickup truck as the grand prize for the Duck Race, which will be held this year on Aug. 9. The F-150 pickup, done in "Duck Decor," has an estimated worth of $50,000, pushing Broadway Ford's donations to more than $250,000. All money from the Duck Race goes toward improvements to the Idaho Falls Greenbelt.

Presentation of a Paul Harris Fellow is the Rotary Foundation’s way of showing its appreciation for a significant contribution to the community. Besides the Duck Race, Crnkovich has distinguished himself has by giving to local high school, 4H and Idaho Falls Police Department programs and events.

The award is named after Rotary International’s founder, Paul Harris, who organized the first Rotary Club in 1905 to provide a venue for friendship and fellowship of professional and business men and women.

To date, Idaho Falls Rotary Club donations and matching funds have resulted in more than $4 million in greenbelt improvements since 1986.

More information about the race can be found at

Registration deadline for July 4 parade, Liberty Festival is June 1

A scene from last year's Fourth of July parade in Idaho Falls. (Photo courtesy Idaho Falls Magazine)
Registration is open for the annual Independence Day Parade and the Fourth of July Liberty Festival on the Falls, but if you're interested you'd better hurry. The deadline is June 1.

Applications are being handled online this year, with registration information to be found on the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce's home page here. Look on the homepage for the 4th of July links.

All applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The June 1 deadline is final.
For the Liberty Festival, due to limited space and logistics there can only be  23 food vendors and 65 business/craft vendors.

Applications will only be accepted if they are 100 percent complete and turned in with proper permits and payment. And remember, neatness counts.

If you have any questions, call Dana Briggs, the chamber's programs, events and communications director, at 523-1010.

Idaho Falls not excluded from Family Dollar store closings

We've had a few inquiries about the closing of the Family Dollar store on South Holmes (the one on Woodruff, next to WinCo is still open), so here is what we've found out.

In mid-April, in the wake of a disappointing second-quarter financial performance, the chain announced it was closing nearly 400 stores, reducing the size of its work force and looking for other ways to save.

Family Dollar reported $2.7 billion in second quarter fiscal 2014 revenue, a figure that fell roughly in line with what Wall Street was expecting but a 6 percent decline over the same period the prior year. Same store sales for the quarter fell 3.8 percent, which the company said was the result of customers spending less. Analysts have said some consumers may be feeling more flush and trading up to stores like Wal-Mart and Target, while others are pulling in spending even more.

“The 2013 holiday season was challenged by a more promotional competitive environment and a more financially constrained consumer," said Howard Levine, Family Dollar chairman and CEO. In addition to closing 370 stores and cutting staff, Levine said the company planned to lower prices on 1,000 items.

The company has not released a list of stores it is closing.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Demolition begins at new Walgreen's site

Demolition work has started at the corner of West Broadway and Skyline Drive, where a new Walgreen's Drug Store is planned. This will be the fourth store of its type in the Idaho Falls-Ammon area, and will replace the operation the company set up in the old Westgate Drug building. Wells Fargo Bank, which has been near the corner of Broadway and Skyline, will move to north of the new Walgreen's store. 

Think Beyond the Thursday Potluck for Employee Recognition

As a proud mother of two, I think Mother’s Day rocks? Why wouldn’t I? Gifts, dinners and a few get-out-of-doing-chores-free passes. Still, it got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a day (or a few days) focused solely on employee appreciation and recognition at work?

Bear with me on this, business owners and management team members. I want to help you see the value of employee appreciation efforts that are well thought out and executed, going way above and beyond the Thursday Lunch potlucks.

Throughout my HR career I have stood by the principle that your greatest assets within your company are your employees. From maintaining your facilities to maintaining your general ledgers, your employees are the nuts and bolts that hold your business together. Without employees you have no driving force to keep your business or organization running. The majority of those individuals gainfully employed spend more time at the workplace than they do with their families at home.

I don’t think all employees should be recognized just for showing up to work every day on time. I am against the whole “everyone gets a trophy for participating” mindset that is common in many parts of our culture today. From children’s athletic leagues to corporate Christmas parties, routine recognition is expected just for meeting minimum requirements and putting in time for a team or project. But if our employees expect routine, social praise, and workplace “trophies or tokens,” how can we recognize truly outstanding efforts or achievement?

Employee recognition efforts are directly tied to employee retention. Employee retention is directly tied to turnover. Turnover is directly tied to company performance and efficiency. So you see, employee recognition has a pretty critical role in every business. Trust me when I tell you if your employees do not feel valued they will not stay.

Too often I have seen companies misunderstand the concept of employee recognition to mean additional compensation. We all like a few extra dollars in our wallets and pocketbooks, but let’s be realistic. When management places a dollar value on employee efforts, do the employees in turn view the additional compensation the same? In all reality the answer is probably no. The employee will always value their efforts, time, sacrifices, etc., at a higher level than the dollar amount you have decided to throw into their paycheck or annual bonus.

Unless you are ready to start paying out a few thousand dollars or more, let’s try to expand our view of what employees may really want. So get rid of the “everyone gets a trophy” mindset and check out next week’s feature, as we explore how to make over your employee recognition efforts and start making an impact on the nuts and bolts of your business.

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

Friday, May 9, 2014

Camping World eyes development on Idaho Falls' west side

Camping World, a company that started in Bowling Green, Ky., in 1966, is proposing to develop 12 acres on Idaho Falls' west side that is presently designated for high-density residential development.

The city of Idaho Falls Planning and Zoning Commission is recommending a change in the comprehensive plan to allow commercial development south of Pancheri Drive on the west side of Interstate 15.

A representative from Zoke LLC, an Boise area company, appeared before the commission at its hearing Tuesday, seeking a change to the comprehensive plan, rezoning, annexation and platting. The matter goes before the Idaho Falls City Council in June. Several residents of the area appeared before the commission as well to voice their support, saying the west side needs more business development, City Planner Brad Cramer said.

Camping World began with a small store in Beech Bend Park, an amusement park outside Bowling Green that billed its campground as the world's largest. Campers at the park were requesting a store where they could buy supplies, so David Garvin, son of the park's owner, took out a loan and opened the store. Garvin amassed a large customer list as the years went by. In 1997, he sold the company to the current owners, Good Sam Enterprises of Ventura, Calif.

The company now has more than 100 retail and service locations throughout the United States, and also sells goods through mail order and online.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Noodles & Company files site plan for Idaho Falls restaurant

Noodles & Company has filed a site plan with the city of Idaho Falls to build a 2,812-square-foot restaurant on a pad in the Grand Teton Mall parking lot facing Hitt Road, east of the main mall structure.

The Broomfield, Colo.-based chain has hundreds of restaurants spread out over 30 states. In Idaho, it has built two in Boise and one in Meridian.

The company was founded in 1995 by Aaron Kennedy, a Pepsi marketing executive who got the idea after eating at Mamie's Asian Noodle Shop in Greenwich Village. Kennedy felt there were not enough restaurants that served noodle dishes, a staple for many international foods.

Using personal savings and investments from friends and family, he started Noodles & Co. in Denver's Cherry Creek neighborhood. After a rocky start,  the management team overhauled the concept and food critics in several cites  began identifying it as the best fast-food restaurant. It grew from $300,000 in revenues in 1996 to $300 million when it went public in 2013.

For a look at the menu, click here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Kress Building in downtown Idaho Falls recognized by Preservation Idaho

Built in 1929 after the Idaho Falls Fire Department moved to Shoup Avenue, the Kress Building, home now to Channel Blend, has been a downtown landmark for 85 years.
One of the crown jewels of downtown Idaho Falls has been recognized this year by Preservation Idaho, which has announced its 37th Annual Orchids and Onions Awards.

The Kress Building on Park Avenue, home now to Channel Blend, is one of three being recognized in the Excellence in Historic Preservation category.

"The renovation of this downtown landmark provides an example to other owners of historic commercial properties that historic preservation efforts can achieve astonishing results with modest investment and attention to detail," said the press release announcing the award.

Every year, Preservation Idaho hosts this awards ceremony, designed to celebrate individuals and organizations that have made positive contribution to historic preservation in Idaho.

Built in 1929 on the site of the original Idaho Falls Fire Station, the Park Avenue property between A and B streets got a makeover in 2007-08.

The upper floor of the has 10,000 square feet. New heating, ventilation and air conditioning were installed, the tin ceiling was repainted and the floors were refinished.

Employing nearly 200 people downtown, Channel Blend is a company that provides call center services and lead qualification for insurance companies and other business clients.

CEO Jeff Neiswanger said at the time he was certain that restoring the building would have a ripple effect, and he was right.

At the risk of editorializing, it's pretty obvious the '20s and '30s were a time when businessmen had a lot more pride in their names than they do today. The S.H. Kress chain of discount department stores disappeared for good in 1981, but if you look up at the pediment of the building his name endures.

In the National Trust Guide to Art Deco in America, writer David Gebhard singled out Kress stores as examples of architectural excellence: "All of these are sophisticated designs, and some ... are outstanding examples of the popular Moderne."

The 37th Annual Orchids & Onions Awards Ceremony will take place May 31 at 11 a.m. at the Mountain Cove Gym, Veterans Administration Medical Center in Boise. To read more online, visit

Center for Aesthetics plans May 20 Beauty and Glamour Gala

Tickets go on sale Friday for the Center for Aesthetics Beauty and Glamour Gala, which will be May 20 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Idaho Falls location, 2375 E. Sunnyside Road, Suite G.

In addition to makeup demonstrations, prize giveaways and one-night-only pricing on popular procedures, the special guest will be Michael McCarthy, national makeup artist for Colorscience.

In the 1980s, McCarthy was a makeup artist for both high fashion and retail clients in the United States and Europe. When he returned to his native Seattle, he began developing his reputation as an aesthetician with an artistic perspective, revolutionizing the industry by developing makeup studios and retail boutiques within larger salon and day spa businesses. He continued to develop his theatrical makeup skills as a principal makeup artist for the Seattle Opera.

Tickets for the event are $25, covering admission for two. Space is limited. For more information, call 529-8232.

Monday, May 5, 2014

INL executive recognized for i-STEM work

For several years, Idaho teachers have been attending i-STEM workshops where they work alongside Idaho business and industry leaders to gain skills and knowledge on how to integrate more science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into their classrooms.

Now, i-STEM has earned an international award for its innovative approach on professional development. On April 24, the International Association for STEM Leaders recognized Anne Seifert of Idaho National Laboratory and Dr. Louis Nadelson of Boise State University with the STEM Professional Development Leadership Award for creating i-STEM and providing professional development to more than 1,750 teachers across Idaho.

Nadelson said the award came as a surprise. “This has been the work of many people. I have a wonderful team that includes people from K-12, state government, higher education, and business and industry. I feel lucky to provide leadership and vision toward this,” he said.

The International Association presented 15 awards. “This award shows we are on the right track, and we are at the forefront here in Idaho to address STEM education in a meaningful way,” Nadelson said.
i-STEM is coordinated statewide by the Idaho State Department of Education, Idaho Professional-Technical Education, educators, businesses and industry.

Get your foot in the door -- create a well-crafted resume

I have seen a lot of resumes throughout my career. Very few I would consider excellent, a majority could be classified as average, and some were just really bad!

That's easy for me to say, being on the other side of the hiring process, right? Maybe so, but the fact of the matter is creating a marketable resume doesn’t have to be difficult.

It is important to have a polished and professional resume in order to land an interview. The first (and possibly only) opportunity you may have to make an impression on a potential employer is your resume. So why would you not take the time and effort to carefully create the “image” of you that you want them to see on paper?

I know well-crafted resumes can take time and effort. There’s plenty to consider in creating resumes, from the format, to wording, different sections, content, font and length. I have been asked time after time what I think a resume should look like, and there’s really not any specific format I can give or blueprint for how exactly a resume should look. However, there are a few standard items I am always looking for with each resume I review.

I’ll be honest – visually appealing resumes make an impact. Think about it this way – what type of commercial has a bigger impact on you as a consumer – the 30-second local commercial promoting the sale of the century or a 30-second commercial during the SuperBowl. The answer should be the 30 second SuperBowl commercial. Granted, these commercials are created by marketing geniuses with marketing budget over what an average employee’s salary would be, but the fact of the matter is they are created to make an impact and do. Shouldn’t your resume be the same?

Aside from being visually appealing, format is always important. Streamlining your sections, subsections and bullet points, to name a few items, it makes a difference. Resumes that are inconsistent in formatting – dashes in some areas, plain text here and there, bolded text in some headings but not all, are easily put to the side and may never get a second look.

Keep in mind that over-formatting can have the same impact. So keep it simple.

Content is also crucial in a resume. I suggest having sections for a professional objective, education/training/certifications, professional experience, publications/presentations/speaking engagements, and extracurricular involvement/volunteer efforts/community service. You can always include a section with some of your highlighted skills, but if they are outlined in your professional experience, I wouldn’t double state your skills.

References aren’t crucial on a resume and can be sent as a separate attachment.

It’s important to carefully plan out what you want to say in each of these sections – and make it so the potential employer can easily review the information you are relaying. If you are too lengthy in your content – potential employers can get lost in the sea of information you are providing.

It’s also crucial to make sure you proofread. Well-crafted resumes loaded with typos will be lucky if they make it past a first review. Potential employers view this factor alone very seriously. If a candidate did not take the time to review and proofread his or her resume, then what should be expected when it comes to fulfilling job duties? Will there be time, care and attention put into work? Hard to answer yes looking at a resume from a candidate who hasn’t taken the time to sort out misspellings and grammatical errors.

While there is no magic formula for creating the perfect resume, it is important to create and maintain one that is polished and professional. It is likely to decide whether you get an interview, so take it seriously. If you need help getting a start, there are great resources available, literally at your fingertips.
Need some direction? My laptop is always open!

Monica Bitrick is an independent human resources consultant who lives and works in Idaho Falls.

17th Street Starbucks opening planned for May 12

A spokeswoman for Wadsworth Development said this morning that the new Starbucks at 900 E. 17th Street is scheduled to open next Monday, May 12.  This will be the second free-standing Starbucks in Idaho Falls.