Monday, June 30, 2014

Master distiller leaves Idaho for Hawaii

Bill Scott
Rigby's loss is Maui's gain. Bill Scott, the master distiller behind such brands as Blue Ice Vodka, American Harvest Organic Spirit, Square One, and 44 Degrees North, has taken a job with Hawaii Sea Spirits, in Kula, Hawaii, on the island of Maui.

“(Bill) has mentored me for the past ten years as we took Ocean Vodka from concept to market,” Shay Smith, the company's CEO. While Blue Ice and Teton Glacier were made from Idaho potatoes, Ocean Vodka is made from organic sugar cane and deep ocean mineral water, sourced from a depth of 3,000 feet off the Kona Coast of Hawaii.

For more than a decade at a re-purposed gasohol plant in Jefferson County, Scott distinguished himself as an industry leader in white spirits production (fermentation and distillation), spirits flavoring systems and innovative product development.  During his 18-year spirits career, he has developed award-winning flavoring systems for over 20 premium and ultra-premium distilled spirits brands winning many best-of-the-best ratings in domestic and international competitions.

Where this leaves the Idaho operation is up in the air. "We are helping where we can," he said. "The crew I had in place is the best in the business, I just hope they get the right leadership rolling soon."

Friday, June 27, 2014

All-Star Workplaces Start With Cross-Training Employees

It may be overused, but one of my favorite sayings is still, “There’s no 'I' in team.”

This is true literally and figuratively. One person never makes a team. Professional sporting organizations have shown us that all-star athletes like LeBron James can help a team's success. But even "King James" can’t single-handedly carry an entire team to victory game in and game out.

I know the workplace is not a playing field or a sports arena, but professional sports organizations have embraced an important concept that can be almost foreign in some of the most successful businesses around the world: cross-training.

Cross-training is simply teaching or training employees the responsibilities or duties of another position to increase organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Cross-training is actually crucial to the success of a business.

Let’s say the Seattle Seahawks decide to solely train Russell Wilson as the only quarterback, that he is the only player who knows the plays and runs from where the quarterback stands. What happens if Wilson gets a season-ending injury the first game of the season? Without cross-training in place, the Seahawks would be facing a pretty rough season -- and some angry fans.

But with second- and third-string quarterbacks in place, as well as offensive players being cross-trained and well versed in the plays, formations, etc., the team can rest easy that they won't face a painful season of losses and booing.

Employers that choose not to cross-train operate at a huge risk. In today’s society we are all trying to do more with less. Cross-training is a concept that fully embraces the more-with-less concept. Cross-training employees not only allows for a back-up player in case a team member happens to get put on the disabled list or goes to a different team, it also helps build morale.

Employees feel valued when a company is willing to invest time and resources into helping them expand their skills and knowledge. Cross-training also encourages strong, teamwork-centered environments where employees actively support each other because they understand and relate to co-workers in other positions. The are extremely efficient if an employee resigns, goes on vacation or even is out for a day or two with the flu.

Cross-training ensures business continuity and success. While cross-training may take planning, time and resources, it is worth it.

You can let King James lead the team to a championship, but he decides to become a free agent the lack of cross-training could certainly hurt your business’ chances at reaching the playoffs next season.

Monica Bitrick is the CEO of Bitrick Consulting Group in Idaho Falls.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Officials greet Fluor's re-entry to Idaho Falls

Fluor Government Group President Bruce Stanski and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter talk Thursday morning at the company's new Idaho Falls office.
Fluor Corp. has opened a new office in Idaho Falls, but the multinational engineering and construction firm, is no stranger this area.

In the days the Idaho National Laboratory was the National Reactor Testing Station, it built the Materials Test Reactor, the Advanced Test Reactor and the Waste Calcining Facility. If all goes as planned, the company and its Oregon-based subsidiary NuScale will have small modular reactors generating power on the Idaho desert in 2023.

"Planting the Fluor flag again," was how Bruce Stanski, president of the company's Government Group, described the official event this morning at its new offices at Taylor Crossing on the River. Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper, Commerce Department Director Jeff Sayer and several Idaho legislators were on hand to put out the welcome mat.

"We're very excited about you being here again," Otter said.

While the office will initially employ only about 10 people, Fluor plans to expand its presence as NuScale pursues the development of 12 small modular reactors west of Idaho Falls. The developer of the project will be the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, of which Idaho Falls Power is a member.

For Idaho Falls Power Chief Jackie Flowers, becoming the lead utility for the project represents a seven-year process that began with her asking SMR people, "Why not Idaho?" She said the real turning point came five years ago, when she took Mike McGough, now NuScale's chief commercial officer, on a tour of the Center For Advanced Energy Studies.

Based in Corvallis, Ore., NuScale, in which Fluor has been the the majority investor since 2011, announced in late May that it had signed a contract agreement with the DOE for $217 million in matching funds to support development, licensing and commercialization of the company’s nuclear small modular reactor technology.

After review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NuScale expects to submit an application for design certification in the second half of 2016. This they hope will allow them to meet a commercial operation date of 2023, in partnership with UAMPS and Energy NorthWest, which operates nuclear facilities in Washington state.

NuScale has had a prototype small modular reactor operating since 2003. 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.

Several things have to happen before any dirt gets moved on the desert. While it pursues certification from NRC, the company must identify possible sites on the desert, gathering geological and meteorological information.

In its "State of Energy in the West" report of June 2013, one of the Western Governors Association's stated goals was to find ways to accelerate introduction of small modular reactors into Western states. As for the selection of Idaho Falls, there's the history and the community's favorable attitude toward nuclear energy. "It's a case of going where you are wanted. If the community won't support it, you just shouldn't try," McGough said.

As part of the Intermountain Energy Summit scheduled for mid-August in Idaho Falls, NuScale has set up a Supplier's Day on Aug. 21, where possible vendors can engage in "speed dating" -- 15-minute meetings where they can discuss possibilities. "We were blown away by the response," McGough said. "There is a lot of interest in this project."

"This is where we're going to be and this is where we're going to deploy our first 540 megawatts," said John Hopkins, NuScale's CEO. "This office is the leading edge, an operations center and a hub to build from."

Idaho Falls chosen for mental health crisis center

Idaho Falls has been chosen as the site for the state’s first mental and behavioral health crisis center, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced today.

A press release from the department said Idaho Falls was chosen over Boise and Coeur d’Alene because of its outstanding community and legislative support.

Crisis centers are designed to treat at-risk patients and lower psychiatric hospitalizations, keeping the often uninsured or under-insured mentally ill out of jail or the emergency room.

“This crisis center – and others we hope to develop – will be modeled on the best practices of other states where such plans have been successful,” said Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter, who made an announcement this morning at Idaho Falls Regional Airport. “We’re hoping for similarly encouraging outcomes here, with communities joining in these investments as they see declining use of local emergency rooms, hospital beds and jail cells.”

Data gathered from the center will be used to evaluate the need and resources necessary to create centers in the other two cities, should the Legislature fund them.

During the 2014 session, the Legislature set aside $1.52 million in annual funds and $600,000 in one-time federal money for one center. The department originally requested $4.56 million for all three proposed centers.

State officials said Twin Falls was Idaho’s next-highest priority area to fund the facility. The Division 5 Behavioral Health Board in Twin Falls is pursuing the idea of creating such a center independent of state funding because of the local need.

The board is also looking to fix the problems that led to Boise officials overlooking the area when considering a crisis center.

“One of the things we were missing from the three other areas primarily was that display of readiness,” Scott Rasmussen, Region 5 program manager for the Behavioral Health Division, told the Twin Falls Times-News last week.

For sound clips from the airport this morning, follow this link to East Idaho News.

Nominations open for Distinguished Under 40 awards

The Young Professionals Network of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce is now accepting nominations for the 2014 Distinguished Under 40 award recipients.

Distinguished Under 40 is an annual awards program exclusive to Bonneville County that honors 10 young professionals who have shown accomplishment in their careers, community and education. To be considered for the award, young professionals are nominated by co-workers, managers, business associates or themselves.

A nomination form can be found here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Habitat for Humanity ReStore grand opening set for Saturday

Habitat for Humanity will hold a grand opening from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at its new location, 1954 N. Yellowstone Highway (formerly Peaches). There will be a silent auction, door prizes, live music and food and drinks.

This is the third Idaho Falls location for Habitat's ReStore, a home improvement thrift store that accepts donations of new and used home building supplies and furniture then offers the items for sale. Habitat for Humanity is an international organization dedicated to the vision that everyone should have a decent place to live.

The Idaho Falls Habitat ReStore is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The newly renovated 10,000-square-foot building will enable Habitat to display more merchandise and serve its customers and donors more efficiently. Habitat’s offices are are located on the second floor of the same building.

“Volunteers and staff have been working for months renovating and organizing our new ReStore,” Habitat Executive Director Karen Lansing said in a press release. “We are looking forward to being able to serve even more families with the increased revenues this new location will bring to Habitat.”

Monday, June 23, 2014

North Hi-Way Cafe plans 80th birthday celebration

Happy Birthday to Idaho Falls' North Hi-Way Cafe.
Idaho Falls' North Hi-Way Cafe will be celebrating its 80th birthday on Saturday with a car show, which is kind of fitting considering the building may have started as a garage.

Since the 1930s, the cafe has amassed a great amount of goodwill from loyal customers. The food is made from scratchh, the service is friendly and the jokes on the wall behind the counter are corny. If you want a slice of pie, there are four or five to choose from and they didn't come out of boxes.

Wes and Roxanne Smith bought the property in 2003 from longtime owners Butch and Darlene Warrren. The cafe is no-smoking now, which was an issue ten years ago but not anymore.

There are two reasons the cafe seems to enjoy the loyalty it does: the staff and the food. The cafe mashes its potatoes and makes its own sausages. The buffalo grinder might be a museum piece somewhere else, but at the North Hi-Way it gets used every day.

"When we say something is hand-breaded, it's hand-breaded," Roxanne Smith said.

Whether it's coffee, biscuits and gravy, a grilled cheese sandwich and cup of chili, or peach cobbler, the waitresses know what the regulars want. None of this would be possible without a dedicated staff. "Their work ethic is impeccable," Smith said. "There are many people who have worked 22 years or more. They have incredible stamina." Some are the children or grandchildren of people who worked at the cafe in the past.

In the beginning, Northgate Mile was a dirt road earmarked for future development, but there wasn't much in the area besides the Idaho Livestock Auction and some homes. When the cafe started serving coffee, it became a magnet for people from the stockyards and the railroad. It was Evan Cropper who turned it into a cafe, and he managed it for decades.

Smith said she's dug into a rich history, and bases the June 1934 date on a paper she received from Marilyn Cropper Brown, Cropper's daughter. What's most important to her, however, is that the cafe's years be celebrated.

At the barbecue Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., anyone with a cool car to show will receive two free lunches. There will be no trophies, but dash plaques will be given out.
For more information, call 522-6212.

Underground parking garage remains exposed

This hole was made when the asphalt in the Bank of Commerce parking lot collapsed under a CCI crane May 6. No word on when it is going to be repaired, but you might be surprised to learn that Dad Clay's Garage, where the bank now is, offered underground parking to those who wanted to pay for it.
The Bank of Commerce is close to finished evaluating the hole in its parking lot on Yellowstone Avenue, made May 6 when the driver of a 40-ton crane tried to make a wide turn coming out of the alley onto the thoroughfare.

At the moment, the bank's officers need to consult with engineers to decide how much of the underground parking structure they want to save, said CEO Tom Romrell.

Although the existence of the parking structure came as a surprise to many, it's no secret to anyone who has lived here a long time. The bank stands where Dad Clay's Garage used to be. Clay built his garage in 1910 and briefly sold Buicks and Fords before other businessmen acquired exclusive dealership rights.

"People who had a little money would park their cars there because they could walk everywhere," said my friend Catherine Gesas Nelson, a longtime Idaho Falls resident.

Romrell said the door to the underground parking structure is on the bank's south side. He said that while some city officials claim they might not have been aware of it, it has been inspected as recently as five years ago.

Deadlines approaching for Great Race 'Disco Edition'

Because this year's theme for the Great Race for Education is Disco Fever, and because I know you are looking for any excuse you can find to waste time on a Monday, here is a clip of Van McCoy's classic "The Hustle," a production I was too green appreciate in 1975. Gas lines ... stagflation ... the fall of Saigon ... WIN buttons ... who cares? It was just great to be young!
"Disco Fever" is the theme this year for the Great Race for Education, but that doesn't mean people will be running around downtown Idaho Falls July 18 in platform shoes and Afro wigs.

OK, maybe a few, but this event, a fund-raiser that netted nearly $40,000 for the Eastern Idaho Technical Foundation last year, has come to be taken very seriously by some of the people who have been involved since it started in 2009.

For the uninitiated, the Great Race is an event in which teams are given clues that lead them to different locations around downtown Idaho Falls, where they perform challenges. Once they've performed five challenges they head back to Snake River Landing. The first ten teams to return advance to the second round of challenges. How quickly teams get back to the finish line has a lot to do with how quickly they can decipher clues, which they receive over the phone from their team owners at base camp. Teams can also buy additional clues, with the proceeds going to the EITC Foundation's scholarship program.

The race's support in the community has grown dramatically. In 2010, once the expenses had been calculated, EITC Foundation reported proceeds from the race around $13,000. In 2013, the foundation came away with nearly $40,000.

Although race day is in mid-July, the buildup starts in April with the Trashion Fashion Show at the city of Idaho Falls' Earth Day event. There is active promotion on social media, all with the goal of raising money and recruiting new teams.

Once the race is done, everyone enjoys food, music and a special rapport that comes from having done something really significant for the community.

EITC Foundation executive director Natalie Hebard said there is still time for anyone who wants to become a team owner to register. In addition to participating in the event, the $50 registration fee gets a team owner a t-shirt, swag bag, drink tickets and a catered meal.

Between now and race day, here are some deadlines and reminders:
  • Team registration forms and a signed waiver for each runner are due by June 27 (to guarantee shirt order).
  • Team Owner Entry Forms are due by June 27 (registration is allowed up to the day of the event, but to receive a team t-shirt, registration form and payment must be received by June 27).
  • Team Owner BBQ – Saturday, July 12 at 5 p.m. hosted at the home of Daren Long (event is posted on Great Race Facebook page with details, please RSVP.
  • Pre-race clues – Each day Monday, July 14 through Thursday, July 17 clues will be released at 7:30 a.m. each morning and again in the evening at 5:30 p.m. (clues released on Facebook and via text if you sign up for text alerts)
  • Pre-race Facebook Auction – Thursday, July 17 from 5:30 until 9 p.m. you can bid on items that will help you during the race.
If any teams are raising funds for clue money, Hebard would like to publicize them on the Great Race Facebook page. If you do not pre-purchase a clue package, please be aware you will be given only one clue after the completion of each challenge. Additional clues may be purchased for $50 per clue on race day.  Team owners can help you solve clues and can purchase the additional clues at base camp.

For more information call the EITC Foundation office at 524-0464.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Smokehouse planned for old Happy's location

Work has started inside the space on Park Avenue that used to be occupied by Happy's. The landlord, Thomas Development Co. of Boise, said it is leasing the space to Foster's Smokehouse.
Foster's Smokehouse is moving into the Earl Building on Park Avenue, where Happy Chinese Restaurant used to be. The 2,800 square feet is being remodeled into a fine dining establishment by Thomas Development.

Based in Boise, Thomas Development bills itself as "the leader in sustainable real estate development," It bought the 114-year-old Earl Building in 2008 and the following year it remodeled the interior common space and updated the historic facade. Pachanga's moved into the building in 2011, dramatically expanding its business from its first location on Capital Avenue.

"Thomas Development Co.'s goal is to make sure it continues to contribute to the community's economic vitality," a company news release said. The company has also developed the Bandon River, Rosselare and Summerhill apartment complexes in Idaho Falls.

Employment terminations take careful time and planning

Remember Donald Trump on "The Apprentice" a few years ago? All I can say is that guy used to make employment terminations look good! Seemed so easy, so simple, and so right to the point as long as you were wearing a tailored suit and were seated in an immaculate looking conference room.

In reality, employment terminations don’t start and end within 30 seconds. Nor do they usually end with an empathetic employee that just “understands” the decision and is motivated to moving on to the next step.

Most terminations are far from simple and easy, but necessary in managing a business. I would love to say that every employee makes the right decisions, performs at optimal levels and excels with motivated excitement in the workplace, but that just isn’t true. Sometimes it becomes inevitable for an employment relationship to end, and often times it’s the employer who has to play the role of the bad guy in a workplace breakup.

Living and working within the great State of Idaho means employment is by law at-will. Legally this means an employer (or an employee, for that matter) can terminate employment with or without cause and with or without notice. Pretty open and flexible for both employees and employers, no?

This shouldn’t be construed that employers can let employees go whenever they want to and without careful planning, or that legal issues won’t arise from the way an employer manages a termination.

Every termination or potential terminations should be carefully considered and planned to ensure it is being managed properly. I know that's easy for me to say, being an expert on the subject, but in truth terminations don’t have to be so hard. They can be done in a fair, consistent, and diplomatic manner.

While every termination is different and surrounded by different circumstances and factors, here are some concrete tips that should be applied to every termination:
  • Termination meetings should ALWAYS be held in a private and confidential setting. The information relayed in a termination is on a need-to-know basis.
  • Termination meetings should be held early in the day if possible. Making an employee work through a full shift isn’t fair or considerate in most cases. Despite the circumstances, remember that your employees are people too and keep in mind how you would like to be treated if the tables were turned.
  • Stick to the facts. Start of by making sure you have facts, documentation, policies/procedures and evidence to support your decision. Hearsay won’t be helpful during the meeting or after they are gone, so make sure you have the right information going into the meeting. If the termination involves a specific incident or behavior, get the employee’s side of the story. This allows you to gather insight on items you may have been unaware of or not even considered. This has been a game changer for me in situations when employees had sometimes no other options or courses of action to take in certain situations.
  • Bring tissues – but make sure to check the emotions at the door. Emotions are high with employment terminations on both sides. Inserting emotion into an already difficult situation only complicates the meeting. Assert your position but try to be empathetic and make sure to steer clear from drawing in any emotions or personal feelings.
  • Mean what you say and say what you mean. Remember, the employee is more than likely going to be defensive, so choose your words carefully. They also may handpick statements made in the termination meeting for action against the company, so be mindful of the long-term impact of your words.
  • Ensure the decisions you have made regarding the termination will be uniformly considered/applied to similar situations in the future. Make sure you are compliant with your policies/procedures and that in similar situations in the future you are committed to taking similar actions. If you are making individual specific decisions based on common performance issues/behaviors, you could end up with future legal issues by playing the nice guy with an employee or two.
Document the termination meeting with all the relevant facts. Ensure the employee is able to read the termination notice and, if willing, sign the notice alongside the management member who handled the situation.

Break-ups are never easy – and workplace break-ups are no exception. Unlike the end of a personal relationship, the way a termination is managed can have a long-lasting impact on a company and may even be accompanied by unemployment claims or worse.

If you need help, there are helpful professionals (HR managers/professionals, consultants, even attorneys) with great insight to share. It’s worth the time and money you may have to spare to make the right decisions for you and the employee.
Monica Bitrick is a human relations consultant who lives and works in Idaho Falls.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bonneville County home sales numbers remarkably consistent

I did one of my semi-regular examinations of Bonneville County home sales statistics today, looking at the first five months for the last five years, and the one thing that jumped out at me is how remarkably consistent the numbers have been for the most part.

The Snake River Regional Multiple Listing Service puts these numbers out every month using four criteria: Units (homes) sold, average days on market, median price and new listings. Considering where our economy has been since 2008, what surprises me is how these numbers stayed pretty steady except for the two numbers I've change to red: the number of new listings in the first five months of 2010 (really up) and the median price in 2012 (down somewhat).

I'm not sure what it means, but here's something to think about. Early 2010 was when the stimulus bill was probably having its greatest effect on local economies. Although a lot of people have dismissed it as ineffective, in Bonneville County it was anything but. Why? Because there was a lot of shovel-ready work on the desert with the Idaho Cleanup Project, and the sudden infusion of federal dollars was all it took to get things rolling.

If you'd care to offer any observations of your own, feel free.

Teton Volkswagen holds ribbon cutting

Ein ... zwei ... drei ... and the ribbon is cut at Teton Volkswagen on Sunnyside Road. The new dealership has 15,000 square feet, including a service department with at laser-guided alignment rack. It has been more than a year since Teton VW went into business, first on Outlet Boulevard, then on Anderson Street. In that time, they have sold 360 new Volkswagens and more than 600 used cars. At the new permanent, high-visibility location they are hoping to do even better.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Social media marketing expert speaks at chamber luncheon

Tim Hong
This might be disappointing, but even if that "Like Us On Facebook" sign you hung on your store got you 500 likes in two days, it doesn't mean all 500 people who liked you are going to see your posts.

When it comes to marketing and social media, change is not only constant but accelerating, said Tim Hong, strategic alliances senior manager for Adobe.

A 1989 Blackfoot High School graduate, Hong was in Idaho Falls Tuesday to speak at the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce's 2020 Vision for Business Luncheon.

Advertising spending on social media platforms -- Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. -- has grown exponentially in the last five years, first for desktop computers and now for mobile devices. Done right, online analytics (Hong's expertise) allow advertisers to measure the success of a campaign in far more detail than it was possible with old media advertising (TV, print, radio).

Nevertheless, a lot of business people, especially small business people, might be wondering the same old question: "How do I know what works?"

A lot of people feel the marketing landscape has changed more in the past two years than it did in the previous 50. Two years ago, the focus was on "vanity metrics," e.g. how many "likes" a business could rustle up on Facebook.

But Facebook has been changing its algorithms, to the point now where 2 percent of the people who've liked your page actually see your posts. Of course you can pay to get better exposure, which is what Facebook wants.

Mobile devices have doubled the amount of time people spend online, and advertising budgets for mobile are growing seven times faster than desktop. "The pace of change, is accelerating, not slowing down," Hong said.

He spoke at length about Foursquare, a web and mobile application that allows registered users to post their location at a venue ("check-in") and connect with friends. Check-in requires active user selection and points are awarded at check-in. To date, there have been more than 5 billion check-ins with Foursquare.

For any business that wants to get a return on investment, understanding the audience is still essential. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, it's best to target your message.

"Be an independent voice, relevant to the people who care about you," Hong said. "Don't try to be popular to everybody on social media."

Monday, June 16, 2014

Idaho Falls Sleep Inn wins TripAdvisor award

A screen shot of the hotel's TripAdvisor page
The Idaho Falls Sleep Inn has received a 2014 TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Exceptional Service Award. Now in its twelfth year, the program names winners based on the quality of reviews and ratings posted online by TripAdvisor travelers.

"We are extremely proud of the Sleep Inn Idaho Falls team for earning this well-deserved recognition," said Anne Smith, vice president of brand strategy for Choice Hotels International, which owns the hotel chain.

Here's one of the reviews, from VickiR53 of Lakeville, Minn.: "We pulled off the highway around 8 pm and didn't see any place to eat but since we were tired we decided to stay. We were so surprised to find they had complementary soup and salad until 9. Very good soup, great salad, garlic bread along with fresh cookies. There were 3 in our group and only one cookies so I inquired at the desk and they said the would bring more in 5 minutes and even asked what kind we wanted! Breakfast was just as good with plenty of seating. And the room was wonderful! We even took pictures to show our friends. We have added Sleep Inn to our list of best places to stay!"

Looking at the Website, it appears that the hotels sales and marketing manager, Matt McGrath, is very good at keeping up with the reviews and replying to them. His answer to VickiR53: "We are always very excited when our hotel is the subject of the first TripAdvisor review someone ever writes. We're glad we made an impression that inspired you to share your experience with others. You mentioned that you had taken some pictures. Would you be willing to post them here?"

This is how it's done in our Web-based world.

Opened in 2010, the Idaho Falls Sleep in is on the west side of Interstate 15 Exit 116. It is owned by the Montana-based Town Pump Group, which recently received the Choice Hotels International Premier Hotelier award at the 60th annual Choice Hotels International Convention in Las Vegas.

As part of the chain-wide Designed to Dream program, Sleep Inn Idaho Falls has already rolled out new bedding and pillows, new guest room lighting, lobby furniture and window treatments toward the design concept's upgrades to guest rooms and public spaces throughout hotel.

Habitat offering competent person safety training class

Habitat for Humanity is offering a Competent Person Safety Training class June 30-July1 for people operating construction sites or associated with construction activities.

It is an OSHA requirement that there be a trained, competent person on a job site. The consequences of not complying could be more than you think.

The training sessions, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will cover four major safety concerns:

  • Fall protection
  • Scaffolding
  • General job site electrical safety
  • Stairways and ladders

The class, which will be held at at Habitat's office, 1954 North Yellowstone Highway, is available to Habitat and non-Habitat members. Attendance is limited to 30 people. Cost is $100, so pre-registration is recommended. The deadline is June 24. Contact Kim Short at 528-0298.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Frontier begins Idaho Falls-Denver service, offers $29 special

Denver bound, the Frontier Airbus jet was saluted with a water arch this morning at Idaho Falls Regional Airport.
With champagne and balloons to greet the early birds, Frontier Airlines launched its first flight from Idaho Falls to Denver this morning.

For anyone interested in a cheap fare to the Mile High City, through Saturday the carrier is selling $29 one-way tickets that are good for any flight Aug. 12 through Nov. 19. Here is the link, and here is the ad:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Teton VW open on Sunnyside, selling cars

The new dealership on Sunnyside Road, Teton Volkswagen, open this week.
It's been touch and go, and there is still work to be done, but Teton Volkswagen has been selling cars this week at its brand new Sunnyside location.

As of Thursday afternoon, six cars had been sold off the lot. It has been more than a year since they opened on the west side of Interstate 15. In February they moved to Anderson Street.

Sales rep Ron Scheneberger said the new location and service department, next door to Teton Toyota, are bound to be a hit once people become aware its open. A grand opening is planned for early August.

Work-life balance is an issue employers can't afford to get wrong

I have to admit I used to loathe the term “work-life balance” while working through college. Being a young motivated professional without children, work-life balance to me meant that I had to do double the work and take extra hours because I was in an office filled with married professionals with children. I felt like every time I turned around one or more of my more co-workers with a spouse or child would get the opportunity to come in later or miss work completely due to child sickness, school related function, family vacation, etc. In turn, I felt like I was inconveniencing my co-workers if I asked for time off for finals or to spend time with my husband prior to any type of deployment or military leave.

Work-life balance to me was a joke – that was until I grew up.

Businesses today are faced with a workplace revolution. Long gone are the "Leave It to Beaver" days of employees unwilling to leave their post from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for any reason other than an occasional break or lunch.

Now we have employees striving to find a careful balance in between juggling and enjoying the pulls of personal lives during their traditional hours and shifts. The fact of the matter is today’s workforce understands and embraces that personal and professional lives intersect and it’s important to figure out how to achieve the right “fit” for both.

According to a recent survey by the Corporate Executive Board, which represents 80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies, compensation is the most important thing to employees. However, workplace balance falls right behind compensation, which means employees in these companies are looking to be paid fairly but also value the programs in place that help them balance both their personal and professional lives.

The survey also reported that employees who feel they have a good work-life balance are 21 percent more productive than those who don’t. This is all based on employee perception, which means it goes above and beyond what you pay your employees.

Companies like Colgate-Palmolive, Google, Coldwell Banker, Disney, and countless others global in scope not only have implemented programs and services to allow work-life balance. They strategically plan and embrace corporate cultures that encourage work-life balance.

Let’s take Google as the most unique example of work-life balance. Google actually has created a scientific approach to work-life balance at their corporate headquarters using the results from semi-annual surveys provided to 4,000 Google employees. Google has consistently found through these surveys that a majority of their employee base has difficulty switching off from work. So Google has
also tried to create programs to help them do this.

One great example: In March 2014 the company asked all Dublin, Ireland, employees to leave company-provided electronic devices at the front desk for the evening. The experiment called Google Goes Dark has reportedly been extremely successful for the employees who have participated.
Participating employees have reported getting better sleep at night, reduced stress levels, better productivity during office hours, and less absenteeism. This exercise was simple yet effective for Google and has required no out-of pocket cost, but has resulted in immeasurable cost savings to the company.

Google’s example and dedication shows us that work-life balance efforts work and in turn are important to today’s workforce.

Now before all of my friends in management start wanting to print this blog off and use it as a stapler target, hear me out on a few things. Work-life balance is a very flexible effort by businesses, and it can be catered to meet business needs. It can be as simple as implementing a fair and reasonable PTO policy, allowing telecommuting, flex-time hours, or even discounted gym memberships. Some
of these options may involve financial commitment, but others may be little to no cost and have huge returns with more productive, efficient, and effective employees.

So, how the heck can you even decide on what to do for work-life balance with your employees? It’s pretty simple. Ask them what is most important to them. Start at the source and create programs and strategies that are based on what they value most. Engaging employees creates a buy-in, especially from the standpoint that employees feel their employers care.

On a cautionary note though, all work-life programs and offerings should be carefully designed to integrate into a company’s employment policies. Additionally, these programs and offerings have to be offered in a streamlined fashion for all eligible employees.

Businesses that choose not to implement any work-life balance programs or offerings are and will continue to trudge behind businesses that do. Not only are these businesses at risk for high employee turnover (which in turn has a high price when it comes to continued efforts to recruit, hire, and train individuals), but they are also at risk for the high cost of continuing to have employees with increased absenteeism rates, low productivity, and high likelihood of health issues. This last part can lead to higher healthcare costs and/or workers’ compensation claims.

Take the time and effort to create or invigorate your work-life balance strategies. The returns to the programs are high and costs are low. Keep this in mind this summer when your administrative assistant asks to take off work a little early on Friday afternoon to enjoy some fun in the sun. It’s well worth the couple hours he or she isn’t glued to a computer and telephone.
Monica Bitrick is the CEO of Bitrick Consulting Group in Idaho Falls.

Entrepreneurs' Platform set for June 24 in Idaho Falls

The Eastern Idaho Entrepreneurial Center will be holding its next Entrepreneurs' Platform June 24 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Idaho Department of Labor office in Idaho Falls, 1515 E. Lincoln Road.

These events allow entrepreneurs to present business ideas and link to needed resources and potential partnerships to expand their businesses. Each of the entrepreneurs invited have worked with the E Center and demonstrated growth potential.

Presenters for this round include:
Home Care Visitor
Dr. Steven Rigby will be presenting Home Care Visitor, a new approach to elderly care. Research has shown that “loneliness” is a contributor to severe heath risks and stress on individuals. Home Care Visitor is exploring the viability of “virtual visits” to residents of nursing homes and long term care facilities. By bringing together a new technology design and university students, Home Care Visitor can supply long term care providers and families with a unique service for residents to receive quality “virtual visits” to improve their lives. Steve is seeking feedback and “next steps” for moving this idea into a viable business.

Firestorm Ventures
Erik Mattson, founder, will be presenting Firestorm Ventures, LLC, an incubator for student lead businesses in southeast Idaho. Firestorm Ventures’ goal is to create local jobs and provide meaningful education opportunities for students. He plans to start in the fall and is looking for partners and mentors to support local entrepreneurs.

Sponsors of this event include Zions Bank, DCI Advisory and the Idaho Department of Labor. Lunch will be included. RSVP at

Based in Rexburg, Idaho, the non-profit organization was established in 2006 by Robert Pothier, a retired businessman and venture capital partner, to grow the local economy.

Serving an 18-county region, the E Center’s consulting projects have brought nearly 500 jobs and over $20 million in venture capital and other investment funding to Idaho, western Wyoming and southern Montana. Averaging 100 projects per year, more than 1,800 students from BYU–Idaho and ISU have participated in research teams that equip clients with information to support informed decision making

For more information, visit

Anheuser-Busch building new water treatment system at Idaho Falls malt plant

Here's more information on the construction at the Anheuser-Busch barley malting plant. The project is a new water treatment system.

"The $8.8 million project demonstrates Anheuser-Busch's commitment to investing in our environmental management systems and enhancing our malting operations," said Plant Manager John Drake in a press release. "Construction is beginning now and will complete by end of 2014. Once complete, the water treatment system will provide a more sustainable and internal water treatment process at the malt plant."

The project, at South Yellowstone and Jameston Road, involves 176 acres south and east of the barley malting plant, which went into operation in 1991. There will be a 4,620-square-foot processing building and two circular holding tanks, each of them 8,495 square feet.  The general contractor on the project is J.C. Constructors of Meridian.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

D.L. Evans breaks ground on Ammon branch

Officers of D.L. Evans Bank, developers and local government and business leaders did a ceremonial groundbreaking in Ammon Wednesday.
Founded in Albion in 1904 with $25,000, D.L. Evans Bank is looking to expand in eastern Idaho. Officers broke ground Wednesday on a new branch in Ammon, indicating they had plans for more offices in Idaho Falls, Blackfoot and Rexburg.

The new branch, the company's 21st, is expected to be finished by Thanksgiving, said Byron Wiscombe, who will manage it when it opens. It will be on the Sunnyside Road side of the 90-acre Sand Creek Commons development, which will also be home to Cabela's.

Wednesday's groundbreaking is likely be the first of many in the next year or two, said Eric Isom, chief development officer of Ball Ventures, which is developing Sand Creek Commons with the Salt Lake-based Woodbury Corp. Eventually, they anticipate developing 300,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and service space.

"We expect more announcements in the next several months," Isom said.

D.L. Evans, which built a branch at 17th Street and Jennie Lee Drive in 2007, has had a sign for years on Pancheri Drive, near Snake River Landing.

Wiscombe said when he asked the bank's officers, "What about Ammon?" they told him, "You tell us. You live there." So an Ammon branch leapfrogged ahead of the Pancheri project.

The bank's CEO, John V. Evans Jr., was on hand for the ceremony, but his father, former Idaho Gov. John V. Evans Sr., now 89, was unable to make it. The elder Evans, grandson of D.L. Evans, remains the institution's president.

Other guests included Gavin Gee, director of the Idaho Department of Finance ("It's not every day a bank invites its regulator to a groundbreaking," he said) and Ammon Mayor Dana Kirkham.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Remodeled Idaho Falls terminal has open house

The new TSA equipment at Idaho Falls Regional Airport. 
The Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors turned out Tuesday to help with the ribbon cutting at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport, where a $2.9 million remodel was completed this spring.

Checking in will be a lot less work, now that the TSA operation has been moved to the back, with a new conveyor system taking bags back to be scanned by a machine that reminded me of a Soyuz spacecraft.

Of the money spent, 94 percent came from the Federal Aviation Administration, with the city's airport reserves making up the difference. "Now it's up to our community to use our local airport," he said. The airport has hired Sixell Associates out of Seattle to plan its marketing, but what's most important is for people to check prices, he said.

Last Saturday, Delta started flights from Idaho Falls to Minneapolis-St. Paul and this Friday Frontier Airlines is starting round-trip service to Denver.

Checking fares to the East Coast in October to visit my mom and attend my high school reunion, this is what I found. Fares for a round trip to Philadelphia, Oct. 1 to Oct. 19:

  • Idaho Falls: $490
  • Salt Lake City: $480
  • Pocatello: $840
  • Jackson Hole: $1,090

A trip on Frontier those same dates, from Salt Lake City to Wilmington, Del. (where my mom lives), would be $385. There is no round trip from Idaho Falls to Wilmington offered, but breaking it down I discovered that I can fly Frontier to Denver then Denver to Wilmington and back and that the cost would be $356.

The drawback would be an eight-hour layover in Denver on Oct. 1, which I suppose might give me ample time to research the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, but it's probably not the best idea.

AmeriTitle expands services into Bingham, Fremont counties

AmeriTitle has expanded its services into Bingham and Fremont counties. One of the largest independent title insurance and escrow companies in the Pacific Northwest with, 42 offices throughout Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, AmeriTitle now has 10 branches serving 13 counties in Idaho.

“All of us at AmeriTitle pride ourselves in providing the best title and escrow services to our local real estate communities,” said Richard Hajek Jr., AmeriTitle assistant vice-president and East Idaho area manager. “Expanding into these two counties has been a goal of mine for some time, and thanks to the support of our new parent company, Futura Title and Escrow Corp., I am thrilled that we were able to complete this expansion.”

Monday, June 9, 2014

Apartment Association has new officers

Jared Duncan has been nominated the new president of the Eastern Idaho Apartment Association. He is the lead property manager at BMG Rentals, managing single family homes, duplexes and multifamily properties.

Aaron Belk, owner and operator of Trail Creek Property Management, has accepted the nomination as president-elect. He leads a team that manages more than 300 units between Rigby and Blackfoot.

The association is scheduling all of next year's speakers and meetings. Possible topics for meetings and speakers include fair housing and how to increase the value of property. Anyone who would like to make a topic recommendation can contact the association's officers:
President: Jared Duncan
President-elect: Aaron Belk
Treasurer: Bart Weaver
Board Member: Jake Durtschi (

Making the grade

We know the sight of dirt being moved can sometimes be the basis for wild speculation, but according to our highly reputable sources nothing is currently planned for this parcel southwest of Wal-Mart on Pioneer Road (that's the new Pancheri overpass in the background). The owner is Guy Arnold of Maple Creek Investments. Because of all the lava rock it is not the easiest ground to sell, so Arnold is grading it to make it more appealing to potential developers.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Anheuser-Busch files plans for $8.8 million water treatment system

On the eve of the Beer Fest, it seems only right to report that Anheuser-Busch has filed plans with the Idaho Falls Building Department for a water treatment system at its barley malting plant at South Yellowstone and Jameston Road.

"The $8.8 million project demonstrates Anheuser-Busch's commitment to investing in our environmental management systems and enhancing our malting operations," said Plant Manager John Drake in a press release. "Construction is beginning now and will complete by end of 2014. Once complete, the water treatment system will provide a more sustainable and internal water treatment process at the malt plant."

The project involves 176 acres south and east of the barley malting plant, which went into operation in 1991. There will be a 4,620-square-foot processing building and two circular holding tanks, each of them 8,495 square feet. The general contractor on the project is J.C. Constructors of Meridian.

Bandon River Apartments holds grand opening

Angie Ferguison of Thomas Development Co. (left) and Sheila Mitchell, Bandon River Apartments manager, handle the scissors Friday at the apartment complex's grand opening.
Bandon River Apartments at Snake River Landing had its grand opening today, with the obligatory ribbon-cutting by the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors.

Half of the complex's 48 one- and two-bedroom apartments are already occupied. Like Rosselare and Summerhill, Bandon River was built by Thomas Development Co. and Northwest Integrity Housing Co., a development team committed to providing quality housing to people who might otherwise scramble to find a roof over their heads that doesn't leak.

"All people deserve to have a safe, sanitary and very decent place to live," said Tom Mannschreck, a member of the Northwest Integrity board of directors.

In addition to Snake River Landing and the developers, organizations involved in the public-private networking included:
Idaho Housing and Finance Association (low income housing tax credits)
Key Community Development Corp. (equity partner)
Key Bank (construction loan)
Idaho-Nevada Community Development Financial Institution (permanent loan)
Catholic Charities of Idaho (support services)
Erstad Architects (architects)
Pacific West Construction (general contractor)
Tomlinson & Associates (property management)

The project was also aided by tax increment financing made possible through the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency. Under tax increment financing, property owners pay taxes on the land as if it were still undeveloped. Taxes they pay on improvements to property are administered by the Redevelopment Agency to pay for streets, storm drainage, power lines, etc. This allows for the development of land that would otherwise be too expensive to improve.

To live in Bandon River, you must be 62 years or older. Rents are charged according to a resident's income on a scale set by the Idaho Housing and Finance Administration.

The developers expect to be awarded the US Green Building Council LEED for Homes Platinum certification, which recognizes attention to sustainable design, energy efficiency and the use of "green" materials.

About 85 percent of the work on the project was done by local subcontractors, said Jason Kunde of Pacific West Construction.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fall River Electric Co-op holding annual meeting Saturday in Driggs

Fall River Electric Cooperative is hosting its annual meeting for owner-members on Saturday, and for the first-time ever, the meeting is being held in Teton Valley.

To give owner-members from Teton Valley an opportunity to learn more about the co-op's services and product, the meeting will be held in Driggs at Teton High School. The annual meeting is free to anyone who receives power from Fall River Electric.

Free breakfast will be served starting at 8 a.m. -- pancakes, eggs, sausage, hash browns or yogurt, granola and fresh fruit. The first 500 members through the door on Saturday will receive a free seven-outlet advanced power strip, which not only provides quality surge protection but reduces the amount of standby power used by electronics in your home or office.

Members will also be able to register for prizes including a 55-inch flat screen HDTV, a Convectair radiant convection electric heater (a value of over $700), a free home energy audit (which normally costs $235), a 7-in-1 propane gas smoker, and many other smaller items.

The annual business meeting will start at 10:30 a.m. It will include a financial report, a report on key 2013 activities and future plans, presentations from the six candidates vying for three board of director positions, and an opportunity for members to ask questions.

Over a dozen vendor booths will be on-site, featuring information on home improvement, alternative solar and wind energy, summer recreational products, lawn and garden, health and wellness providers, and insulation. Electrical safety demonstrations conducted by Fall River's linemen will be held Saturday morning at 8, 9 and 9:45, where attendees can register to win a free professional grade chain saw.

For the kids there will be a play area, jump houses and rides on the Fall River Propane train.

People who visit the Fall River Propane booth can get a free certificate to fill as many propane cylinders as they want for just $5. Cylinder filling will take place June 10 and 12 in Driggs .

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fluor, NuScale expanding office presence in Idaho Falls

Now that they have a deal with the U.S. Department of Energy, Fluor Corp. and NuScale Power are getting ready to expand their offices in Idaho Falls, in the Taylor Crossing on the River development.

It is not a huge expansion, but it represents the first step in a nine-year march toward building small modular reactors on the Idaho desert.

Oregon-based NuScale, in which Fluor has been the the majority investor since 2011, announced last week that it had signed a contract agreement with the DOE for $217 million in matching funds to support development, licensing and commercialization of the company’s nuclear small modular reactor technology.

After review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NuScale expects to submit an application for design certification in the second half of 2016. This will allow the company to meet a commercial operation date of 2023 for its first planned project, in Idaho, with partners Energy NorthWest and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (of which Idaho Falls Power is a member.)

NuScale's Chief Commercial Officer Mike McGough said the DOE's award was a "very important validation of our efforts," and would make it easier to raise the matching funds from investors. The office in Idaho Falls is more Fluor's than NuScale's -- "They're letting us co-habitate with them," he said -- but it will be where meetings are held regarding such matters as supply chain.

NuScale has had a prototype small modular reactor in operation since 2003.
An artist's rendering of how NuScale's small modular reactor assembly would work. For a full story, visit this link:
"The DOE money doesn't pay for construction of a project; the idea is to help fund the development and licensing of the technology," McGough said. The cost of the entire project could top $2 billion.

NuScale has to research an "Idaho-wide region of interest," identifying possible sites on the desert, gathering geological and meteorological information. A lot of that has been gathered at the Idaho National Lab, which dates back to 1949.

While the desert west of Idaho Falls was once home to 52 reactors, only three remain in operation now, most prominently the Advanced Test Reactor, which was built in the mid-1960s. At a conference in Idaho Falls last year, NuScale detailed a goal of building 12 small modular reactors, linked together and generating 545 megawatts by 2025.

Compared to a typical pressurized water reactor generating 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.

A design certification application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is typically a document of around 10,000 pages, after which the company would 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.

As part of the Intermountain Energy Summit scheduled for mid-August in Idaho Falls, NuScale has set up a Supplier's Day on Aug. 21, where possible vendors can engage in "speed dating" -- 15-minute meetings where they can discuss possibilities. "We were blown away by the response," McGough said. "There is a lot of interest in this project."

In its "State of Energy in the West" report of June 2013, one of the Western Governors Association's stated goals was to find ways to accelerate introduction of small modular reactors into Western states.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Landing the Right Job Starts With Your FaceBook Profile

Social media has taken the world by storm. From keeping in touch with family and friends around the world, to event invitations and even how businesses market themselves and their products, social media without a doubt has impacted how businesses operate. It also affects how businesses recruit.

I will be the first to admit that as a business person I thrive on utilizing social media for my recruiting projects. I have 24/7 instant access to a marketing monster that literally markets and recruits for me -– all at the touch of a button. I can’t even imagine why I wouldn’t recruit without at least a small portion of my efforts filtered through social media.

On the flip side, social media is also helping not just my firm, but others to get an idea of the type of candidates that are applying for the jobs I am recruiting. Before you get upset and start screaming out that “social media spying” is an invasion of privacy, it really isn’t.

Recently, CareerBuilder conducted a survey of 2,300 hiring managers on their use of social media in the hiring process. According to the survey, 65 percent of the managers reported they wanted to see if candidates presented themselves professionally.

This alone is important to businesses, because employees represent their companies beyond the workplace. I’ll never forget applying for a job in college and the business owner openly asking me, “If I asked my colleagues about you would they say you were one of those wild and crazy girls drunk and dancing on the bar on the weekend?” This was well before the social media revolution took hold, but it still shows that businesses had a genuine interest in who candidates are as a part of the hiring process.

“Social spying” has been going on for a very long time, but it has expanded well beyond asking your professional pals about candidates and their weekend activities.

When someone sets up a profile on FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, etc., there are options for how little or how much information the individual wants the general public to see. Some people are dead set on the general public not being able to see anything unless they can control it (through friend requests, account settings, etc). Then there are those individuals that feel social media is their stage and want to share everything with the world. Either way, that information is online 24/7, which in turn gives instant access to at least some information about you to potential employers.

If you don’t want a potential employer, or anyone else, to know things about you that you don’t want them to know, you really shouldn’t create a profile at all.

Once a resume has been submitted or application has been filled out, I guarantee a handful of hiring professionals are using their favorite search engine to see what results may come up based on a name search. Or they are plugging a candidate’s name into a search on their favorite social media site to get a “real-life” view that goes beyond a resume.

Hear me out when I say this isn’t really a bad thing. Based on the type of profile and content on the profile, your odds of landing an interview, even a job may actually increase based on your last status update or your favorite hobbies. A carefully crafted profile can help showcase personal and professional qualifications while giving a well-rounded view of a candidate. Social media gives businesses the opportunity to have a snapshot of the person behind the resume.

On the flip side, businesses could instantly throw your resume into the shred pile if your profile screams irresponsible party animal. Rule of thumb: If you don’t want to answer questions in a Monday interview about the weekend you just had, you might want to think twice about posting pictures or comments.

Keep in mind that employers are not solely basing their decisions on status updates and profile pictures, but they can have an impact on the decision if you end up as a lead candidate or on the "maybe" list.

If you are serious about seeking out better opportunities anytime in the near future, I suggest taking a serious look at what you are presenting to the world and making sure it is in line with what you would like hiring professionals such as myself to see.

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

Bandon River Apartments sets open house Friday

The interior of a model unit at Bandon River Apartments.
Bandon River Apartments at Snake River Landing will be having its grand opening Friday morning at 11.

Like Rosselare on 12th Street, this is an apartment community for people 62 and over. It is a joint project by Thomas Development Co. and Northwest Integrity Housing Co.

Formed in 2009, Northwest Integrity Housing is an Idaho non-profit corporation whose mission is to provide affordable housing for residents in the Intermountain West. Since its formation, Northwest Integrity Housing Co. has helped develop 3 senior apartment communities, which total 129 units. Thomas Development has developed 65 housing communities, including 52 in Idaho.

It is anticipated that Bandon River will receive the prestigious U.S. Green Building Council LEED for Homes Platinum certification, just as did Rosslare, Summerhill and Cardona, our other recent eastern Idaho developments. USGBC LEED for Homes is a rating system that champions energy, water, and resource efficiency, reducing waste, improving indoor air quality for a healthy home, and sustainable, green building design, construction, and operations.

The ribbon cutting ceremony will be held Friday from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Refreshments, prize drawings and apartment tours will be available from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The address is 1755 White Sand Creek Way. For more information, call (208) 524-1268.

D.L. Evans plans branch in Ammon

D.L. Evans Bank will be having a ground breaking ceremony for a new branch location in Ammon at 11 a.m. June 11 at 2634 East Sunnyside Road. This will be the second D.L. Evans Bank branch in the Idaho Falls/Ammon area, and will be located in the Sandcreek Commons Center in Ammon.

The new branch will be designed under sustainable guidelines by Erstad Architects with Construction Solutions Co., a local general contractor in Idaho Falls. A tentative completion date has been set for November this year.
Ball Ventures, LLC of Idaho Falls and Woodbury Corporation of Salt Lake City, Utah, are the developers of Sandcreek Commons, which is where Cabelas has also announced it intends to build. “D.L .Evans Bank maintains an incredible reputation in our community and the entire region. We have enjoyed the experience of working with this historic Idaho institution,” says Ball Ventures Chief Development Officer Eric Isom.

With total assets of over $1 billion, D.L. Evans Bank has been serving Idaho communities since 1904, priding itself on hometown customer service. The company has 20 branches throughout southern Idaho, including one in Idaho Falls at 888 E 17th Street.