Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Chamber annual membership meeting set for Jan. 19

Tom Van Hemelryck
The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce has scheduled its annual membership meeting for Jan. 19 from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Willard Arts Center, 450 A Street.

The meeting is aimed at giving members and non-members a look at how the chamber aided local business in 2015, and to review new objectives for 2016. Volunteer recognition is part of the program. 

There will be a special presentation on the economic outlook for 2016 from Tom Van Hemelryck, Idaho president of Washington Federal. A native of Montana, Van Hemelryck joined Washington Federal in 2013 and oversees 27 branch locations. He serves on a number of business and non-profit boards. He was the 2015 recipient of the Idaho Business Review “Money Makers” award.

Admission is $10 for members, $12 for non-members. Registration must be made by Jan. 15 and can be done online here: Membership Meeting Registration.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Idaho Falls Power GM elected to chair UAMPS

Jackie Flowers
Jackie Flowers, general manager of Idaho Falls Power, was elected chairwoman of the board of directors of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems at the recent 2015 UAMPS member meeting in Salt Lake City. Flowers is the first woman to be elected to the UAMPS Board of Directors.

At Idaho Falls Power, Flowers manages 68 employees and a $70 million budget. In addition to providing electric service, the utility owns and maintains four hydropower plants, maintains nearly 450 miles of transmission and distribution lines, and manages the city’s dark fiberoptic network.

Flowers came to Idaho Falls from Sheridan, Wyo. She is a registered professional engineer with a background in civil engineering and more than 20 years of experience. She has served on the UAMPS board for a number of years, recently as chairwoman of two key committees – the Horse Butte Wind Project Committee and the Carbon Free Power Project Committee.

Mike Lehto
The Horse Butte project, located 16 miles east of Idaho Falls, consists of 32 wind turbines generating 57.6 megawatts of electricity. The Carbon Free Power Project committee is investigating the viability of developing a small modular nuclear reactor project, possibly on the Department of Energy’s Idaho site west of Idaho Falls.

Also at the UAMPS meeting, Mike Lehto, president of the Idaho Falls City Council, was honored as Champion of Public Power. The award is given to someone from one of UAMPS’ 45 communities who has provided exceptional service to municipal public power.

Lehto was unable to attend the meeting, and Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper accepted the award on his behalf. He has served as the council's liaison to the Idaho Falls Power for 15 years. During the West Coast energy crisis of 2002, Lehto was led the city’s effort to establish and maintain a strong risk management policy and healthy rate stabilization fund.

He was nominated to the American Public Power Association’s Policy Maker Council in 2005. He was awarded the Spencer Vanderlinden Public Official Award in 2011.

Lehto did not run for re-election this fall and will be stepping down from the City Council in January.

UAMPS is a joint action agency providing wholesale electricity and electric energy services to 45 public power utility members in eight Western states. Established in 1980, it helps its members with planning, financing, development, acquisition, construction, operation and maintenance of various projects for the generation, supply, transmission and management of electric energy.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

KC Frames now on Woodruff Avenue

The coming of Tai-Pan Trading to the Hall Park Plaza on 17th Street meant it was time for Pam Peterson to find another location for her business, KC Frames, but everything has worked out for the best, she said.

Peterson finished moving Dec. 1 to a new location, 551 S. Woodruff Ave., next door to Papa John’s Pizza. “It’s a smaller location, but it suits our needs better,” she said. It was something of an inconvenience to be given a month to move at the beginning of the holiday season, but with help from Randy Waters of Sperry Van Ness High Desert Commercial they were able to find space and move quickly.

In all, KC Frames spent only about a year in Hall Park, which is quite a contrast to the 38 years the business was on Garfield Avenue between Holmes and Northgate Mile, where Peterson’s parents, Gene and Connie Clements set up shop in the late ‘70s. The business has a loyal clientele, which has lessened the inconvenience caused by moving.

“We’re pretty lucky to have people follow us form one location to the next,” Peterson said. “We think there will be good traffic where we are now.”

Friday, December 11, 2015

Renew Cryotherapy opens on 25th Street

Jared Weimer supervises a three-minute cryotherapy session for Lance Kunsaitis, a weightlifter who came in Wednesday for his fifth session.
Call me Elsa, because I now know what it's like to be frozen. I mean, really frozen.

Renew Cryotherapy has opened at 2090 E. 25th Street, and if you want to know what it's like to be hit with liquid nitrogen-based gas at -110 Celsius for three minutes, this is where you want to go.

Cryotherapy involves lowering the body's skin temperature to 32 degrees Fahrenheit to produce a "fight or flight" reaction, said Renew owner Jared Weimer, who opened his business in November. Basically, the extreme cold sends a person's blood to the body's core, producing an endorphin "dump" that does all sorts of wonders for aches and pains and arthritis.

Though it has been around since it was developed in the 1970s in Japan, cryotherapy didn't catch on in the United States until around five years ago, Weimer said. He learned about it in Utah last summer when his wife, Cheri, tried it for chronic nerve pain in her legs and liked the effects.

A cryotherapy chamber costs around $60,000. The USA-made unit Weimer bought has three settings, -110, -120 and -130 Celsius.

"You feel invigorated," said Lance Kunsaitis, a weightlifter who was in Wednesday afternoon for his fifth session. Kunsaitis said the therapy helps with his recovery time after a workout, also with a torn ACL he's recovering from.

To get ready, one strips down to one's underpants, puts on a pair of warm socks and booties and a robe (which comes off once in the chamber). Gloves are optional. The chamber is constructed so that a person's head is sticking out (adjustments for height are made with different-sized pads).

"The first time people are nervous because they don't know what to expect," Weimer said.

True to the spirit of Mae West, who would try anything once (and twice if she liked it), I volunteered to become a human Popsicle and succeeded at enduring for three minutes. It was not as terrifying as skydiving or as physically punishing as going in the ring with Victor the Wrestling Bear (which I did for a story in my college paper in 1978.) It wasn't even as cold as being dumped from a sailboat in the Chesapeake Bay in February, but wet cold is different from the controlled cold of cryotherapy, Weimer said.

Yes, there is rush afterwards and I felt a lot of energy on the elliptical at Apple Atheltic Club, where I went after my session.

Prices start at $25 for a single session. For more information, visit renewcryo.com

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Rizo's Pizza planned for development in Ammon

Rizo’s Pizza will be the newest addition to the cluster of restaurants in Ammon that is home to Cafe Rio, Five Guys and Texas Roadhouse.

Owner and developer Jaime Rhoda said he hopes to start work after Christmas and have the restaurant open by early June. The plan filed with the city of Ammon building department calls for a 1,250-square foot dining area and a 553-square foot kitchen.

Rizo’s will feature fire-baked pizza and specialty salads. “It’s thin-crust pizza made on demand, coming in two sizes. It’s made very fast, only three or four minutes,” he said.

He described the design concept for the restaurant as fast casual and patterned after Chipotle.

“Overall it’s a really neat concept,” he said. “The price points are really good, and with two different sizes, the kids get what they want and the parents get what they want, too.”

Monday, December 7, 2015

WeeBee Toys plans to open Saturday in downtown Idaho Falls

The floor at WeeBee Toys, 492 Shoup Avenue, which is scheduled to open Saturday.
Santa Claus has nothing on the folks at WeeBee Toys, at Shoup Avenue and B Street, where the toys are waiting to be brought upstairs for a soft opening this Saturday.

The store is in the space that used to be home to Idaho Mountain Trading, which has been vacant since IMT moved next door in 2014. As things have transpired, owner Kim Johnson had been thinking about a toy store for some time, but didn’t start to move until earlier this fall.

Until two months ago, Johnson was a licensed therapist with One Tree Counseling, specializing in play therapy with children. In October, she and her husband, Travis, were in Coeur d’Alene for a state girl’s volleyball tournament. Exploring downtown, they visited Figpickles, a locally owned toy store, and the penny dropped.

“We’re such a family-oriented community,” she said. “We both agreed that Idaho Falls could use a specialty toy store of its own. With my knowledge of kids and my husband’s knowledge of business, we thought we’d make a good toy store team.”

Johnson said they will be carrying toys the big box chains don’t stock, brands like Melissa and Doug, Fat Brain Toys and Blue Orange Games. “The are companies that sell to smaller, independent shops,” she said. “They don’t want their products sold online, they want them where kids can try them out and put their hands on them.”

In the old Mountain Trading space, the sales floor will be about 5,300 square feet while a corner in the back, about 1,000 square feet, will be sectioned off for a conference room. Johnson said they hope to have everything from kids’ art classes to parenting classes in the space.

An eastern Idaho native who graduated from Shelley High School, Johnson said she and her husband are optimistic about broadening what downtown Idaho Falls has to offer. “They’ve done a good job of rejuvenating it with grown-up things, but with this and the Artitorium we’re thinking we can make downtown a place where families want to come.”

WeeBee Toys can be found online at weebeetoys.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/weebeetoys.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Casper, Kirkham make list for Idaho Business Review's top 50 women in business

Rebecca Casper
Every year the Idaho Business Review takes nominations for its 50-name Women of the Year list. Usually there are two or three from this area who make it, and this year is no exception.

Dana Kirkham
The two finalists this year are Rebecca Noah Casper, mayor of Idaho Falls, and Dana Boothe Kirkham, mayor of Ammon. I can't argue with their selection. Considering how shaky relations have been in the past between the two cities, it's to their credit that they and their respective city councils have managed to work with each other on the widening of Hitt Road and the signal at 25th Street and Hitt.

Still, one wonders whether more nominations from this side of the state might result in a list less Ada-centric. It's something to keep in mind for next fall, but in the meantime, here is the IBR story that moved Wednesday.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Kneaders coming to Sandcreek Commons; Broulim's plans Dec. 17 opening

The dining room at the Kneaders in Orem, Utah, where the chain started in 1997. The company announced Wednesday it would be coming to Ammon's Sandcreek Commons shopping center.
With two major tenants open for months, it’s been a relatively quiet fall at Ammon's Sandcreek Commons shopping center, at the corner of Hitt and Sunnyside roads, but not much longer.

The Broulim’s grocery store is scheduled to open Dec. 17, and a slew of smaller businesses have announced plans to locate in the 40-acre development.

Ball Ventures and Woodbury Corp., partners in the project, announced today that Kneaders, a Utah-based chain specializing in artisanal baking, would be opening its second Idaho location at Sandcreek Commons. This came a day after Rita’s Italian Ice released the news that it would be opening its first Idaho store at there in March 2016.

Construction of the Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is well under way and Great Clips is planning to open 1,200 square feet this weekend in the 18,639-square-foot retail center next to Broulim’s. Progress is about where they expected it to be by the end of 2015, said Eric Isom, Ball Ventures’ chief development officer.

"The momentum id definitely coming," he said. "I would say we're pretty much right on schedule, maybe even a little ahead on pad development."

In addition to Cabela’s, Hobby Lobby and Broulim’s, there is room in the project’s first phase for one more 50,000-square-foot anchor tenant. “One of the things we're really trying to do right is the tenant mix,” Isom said. "You want quality tenants and the right mixture."

Isom said they also try to respond to what they hear from local people, and there has been a lot of interest in Kneaders. "So many people are familiar with it from the trips they've made to Utah. I'ts been one of the most common requests in the last two or three years."

Founded in Orem in 1997 by Gary and Colleen Worthington, Kneaders specializes in European hearth breads made from scratch on site daily, as well as gourmet sandwiches, soups, salads, pastries and breakfast items. It also provides catering services for groups of all sizes, from birthday parties to weddings, and offers a variety of retail products including award-winning gift baskets and holiday-themed gifts.

So far, the company has 42 locations in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Texas and Idaho, where it opened its first store in Meridian. Like many chains, there is a mix of franchise operations and company-owned stores. The Ammon restaurant will be company owned.

A soft opening for Great Clips is slated for Saturday, with grand opening events beginning Dec. 11 and continuing through the end of the year. Hours for the new location will be Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“This will be our fourth location in the Idaho Falls area and we really look forward to serving Ammon customers,” said franchisee Randy Jensen, who with his wife, Marcia, owns seven locations total.

Eventually, Ball Ventures and Woodbury Corp. anticipate developing 320,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and service space at Sandcreek Commons. For now, Phase One everything happening north of Judy Street is anticipated to add nearly $80 million to the local tax base and 1,200 new jobs.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Rita's Italian Ice coming to Ammon's Sandcreek Commons

A selection of offerings from Rita's Italian Ice, coming to Sandcreek Commons Shopping Center.
Ice may be the last thing you’re in the mood for right now, but Rita’s Italian Ice is the newest business coming to the Sandcreek Commons shopping center.

The Trevose, Pa.-based chain announced it will be opening its store in Ammon, near Cabela’s and Hobby Lobby, in March 2016.

Dr. David Chamberlain, a general surgeon in Idaho Falls, has the rights to develop Rita’s in Idaho. He and his wife, Shawna, discovered Rita’s while in Utah and thought it represented a good investment opportunity. Under their agreement, they plan to build 12 stores in 10 years, of which the Sandcreek Commons location will be the first.

Rita’s has more than 600 stores nationwide, and has announced plans to also expand into Washington, Hawaii and San Jose, Calif. The company dates back to 1984, when Bob Tumolo, a former Philadelphia firefighter, started selling Italian Ice (also referred to as water ice) from a small porch window in Bensalem, Pa. With the modest goal of earning a little extra income, he named the business after his wife, Rita.

Rita’s Italian Ice was a hit with Philadelphians, who are arguably the most devoted and discriminating consumers of water ice in the United States (not to mention some of the most critical people in America, legendary for having booed Santa Claus at an Eagles halftime show once.) By 1987, Tumolo and his brother, John, had opened three more Rita’s locations to meet increasing demand, and in 1989, they started franchising the business. By 1996, Rita’s had grown to more than 100 outlets in nine states. In May 2005, the Tumolos sold the the franchise system to McKnight Capital Partners, under which the number of franchise agreements doubled from 109 in 2005 to 219 in 2006. By the company’s 25th birthday in 2009, it had expanded to more than 500 stores.

“It has been a banner year for growth and expansion,” said Eric Taylor, chief development officer at Rita’s Franchise Company. “We set out with a clear goal in mind — expand to new markets in the U.S., expand internationally and expand with new and creative concepts.”

Work begins on The Falls apartment complex at Snake River Landing

An artist's rendering of what The Falls apartment complex will look like.
Kartchner, Inc. has begun work on The Falls, a modern, 228-unit, apartment complex in Snake River Landing, with an opening date slated for June 2016.

What is planned, according to a news release, is a pet-friendly community with “over-the-top” amenities, including fiberoptic Internet and a resort-inspired clubhouse and pool. The clubhouse is to feature a large pool area, with an all-year Jacuzzi and grilling station. It will also offer multiple fitness options, including a modern fitness room, a dedicated yoga-pilates studio, clubroom and game room.

The apartment layouts are extremely space-efficient, maximizing useable space for residents. “The apartments live more like a home than a typical apartment, making them better fit all lifestyles,” said longtime Idaho Falls resident and Kartchner Regional Manager, Danielle Moor. “I’m excited to show the Idaho Falls community what we have to offer.”

The Falls is situated on 9.5 acres located near I-15, giving residents access to Snake River Landing’s growing number of shops and restaurants and the city’s Greenbelt trail system. It is directly northeast of the site that has been platted for the Snake River Events Center.

“There’s really nothing else like it in Idaho Falls,” said Troy Kartchner, President of Kartchner, Inc. “It’s not just the place people will want to rent, but the place where they will love to live.”

The Falls is pre-leasing now. Rents start at $875 a month, and include clubhouse privileges, city utilities, a Direct TV package and fiberoptic Internet access. Learn more at www.thefallsapts.com.

Dan's Ace Hardware coming to West Broadway

Dan’s Ace Hardware, which has stores in Rexburg, St. Anthony, Lava Hot Springs and Garden City, Utah, is renovating the space at 1747 West Broadway, where Rite Aid Drug used to be.

According to plans at the city of Idaho Falls Building Department, the project involves 14,075 square feet of space, with a sales floor of 11,711 square feet.

Owner Daniel Moldenhauer was guarded with his information when we reached him in early November, but said he is shooting for an opening in early March.

This will double the number of family­owned hardware stores on Idaho Falls’ west side, as Rocknak’s Hardware Plus has been on West Broadway since 1995.

“It will make us more competitive,” said Brian Rocknak, who manages the store from day to day. “It will definitely be a test for us and for them. We’re really confident in our staff here, and we’ve been on the west side a long time.”

Monday, November 30, 2015

Ahhhsome Relaxation opens in Ammon

The massage chairs at Ahhhsome Relaxation in Ammon.
Whether it’s sore feet, a bad back or plain everyday stress, Shawn Tolman and Alyce Jeppesen have opened Ahhhsome Relaxation in Ammon, at 939 S. 25th East #115, in the shopping center next door to World Gym.

The business offers stress ­reduction and massage equipment to members seven days a week, 24 hours a day in a secure environment. There are 24 different massage chairs, Tolman said, adding “Outside of the U.S., most of the equipment we have is used for medical purposes.”

The two opened a pilot location in Evanston, Wyo., in 2014. “We had to prove it worked,” Tolman said. Customers ranged in age from 18 to 92.

After getting loan approval from Bank of Commerce and Citizens Community Bank, they started planning their eastern Idaho location, which opened Nov. 13.

Staff is on hand from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and introductory visits are free. Call 523-­1209 for an appointment. After that, single visits are $35, a one­-month membership is $75 and a 12-­month membership is $50 a month.

Online, information can be found at www.ahhhsomerelaxation.com or https://www.facebook.com/ahhhsomerelaxation/.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Idaho Falls takes ownership of War Bonnet Roundup

The city of Idaho Falls has taken over the War Bonnet Roundup, Idaho’s oldest professional rodeo.

At a City Council work session Monday, Parks and Recreation Director Greg Weitzel reported that he had reached an agreement with American Legion Idaho Post 56 to acquire the rodeo’s property and management responsibilities. Under the agreement, the Legion, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, has transferred the rodeo to the city free and clear while retaining the right to operate grandstand concessions for three years, with two-year extension option. The Legion will pay 15 percent of its rodeo concession income to the city.

The sale price was estimated at $16,000,  and included all intellectual property, goods and equipment. Because was under $25,000, it no formal council action was required, only administrative action.

With more than 15,000 people attending every year, the rodeo has grown to the point where the Legion is having difficulty managing the event, said Post 56 Commander Bob Skinner. Sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, last year the War Bonnet saw a record-breaking 477 participants.

“The time is right to transfer the responsibility to a larger organization, which will allow this great asset to grow even bigger and better,” he said. “We look forward to working side-by-side with the city to help this great event become a destination rodeo for all people in the west and beyond.”

For decades the War Bonnet Roundup has been held at Sandy Downs, a facility owned and managed by the city. It will celebrate its 105th anniversary in 2016.

“Many rodeos throughout the United States are run by cities because they bring in a great deal of revenue and have a positive economic impact,” Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper said. Over the years the Parks and Recreation Department has honed its rodeo management skills and developed the necessary resources and personnel, she said.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Going out of business sale starts at Farr's Jewelry

Farr's Jewelry moved into its 17th Street store in 1999.
You might want to get the jump on Black Friday, because the race is on at Farr's Jewelry on 17th Street. Once a downtown anchor, Farr’s Jewelry, is going out of business after 55 years.

Vern Farr opened Farr’s Jewelry in downtown Ogden, Utah, in 1956. The Idaho Falls store opened four years later, at 369 Shoup Avenue, across the street from what used to be Ada’s Café (now Krung Thep, a Thai restaurant). In 1976, owner Boyd Wecker, a friend of Vern Farr’s, moved the store to the corner of Shoup and B Street and ten years after that it moved to the Grand Teton Mall on 17th Street. The store had expanded from jewelry to electronics and gifts, dropping small appliances, and focusing more on specialties.

Wecker retired from the business in 1992 and Vern Farr’s son Dirk (who’d come north from Utah) took over as owner, with the help of longtime employee Tom Stott, a company mainstay. In February 1999 Farr’s moved out of the mall and into its current location at 2026 East 17th Street. Building ownership, more individualized hours, and easy access help keep prices down while Farr’s maintained its loyal customer base.

The economic downturn of 2008 didn’t really hit Farr’s until a year or two later. Things have come back since then, “but just not fast enough,” Dirk Farr said. Because of “changing family dynamics” he moved back to Utah in 2014 to take over the Ogden store, but will always cherish his 29 years in Idaho Falls. “We’ve had fantastic employees and customers,” he said.

He is hoping to have the store closed after Christmas, and encourages everyone to check out what deals are available. “I would rather have Idaho Falls benefit from the marked-down prices than try to sell it somewhere else,” he said.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Catmull's Furniture closing after 53 years in business

Barbara and Dale Catmull in their downtown Idaho Falls store.
After 53 years in downtown Idaho Falls, Catmull’s Furniture is going out of business.

Since making the announcement Nov. 10, owners Dale and Barbara Catmull have astonished by the outpouring of loyalty from longtime customers. “They’ll say, ‘We bought our first sofa from you,’” Barbara  said. “There are a lot of families where it’s been their tradition to buy here.”

The things people are saying, it feels like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’” said Dale, 65, who who started helping his father, Dorsal “Doc” Catmull, when he was 12 years old. (Doc Catmull died in 2013.)

By price, Catmull’s has been able to compete all along. Because they own the building, their overhead is a lot lower, which meant they could pass savings along to the customers, said Dale.
“We have good quality stuff and free delivery, which you hardly see anymore,” said Barbara. “But things are changing. The younger generation thinks they can get better value at places like Furniture Row. It’s not true, but that’s what they think.

They hope to have the 15,000 square feet of space cleared out by mid-December. After that, they plan to visit their children and grandchildren and to sail the Erickson 34-200 sailboat they have moored in Alameda, Calif.

“It’s time to do something fun,” Barbara said. “We’ve got to do it while we still have our health.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Post-"Pan" ponderings, before the memories fade

That's me with the sword, in the puffy shirt.
As I write this it has been less than 12 hours since my last turn as Captain Hook in the Idaho Falls Youth Arts Centre’s production of “Peter Pan.”

I know from experience that the post-production blahs don’t set in for another day or two, but they are coming. I wouldn’t change anything about this. It has been a wonderful experience.

The “Peter Pan” we did is the Broadway musical that Baby Boomers cut their teeth on in the ‘50s and ‘60s. As we rehearsed this fall, I  flashed back to watching Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard on our family’s tiny GE black-and-white set. At age 3, I was as terrified of Ritchard’s leering portrayal of Hook as I was of the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz,” another TV staple of the times.

As I am now about the same age as Ritchard was then, I resolved to take my cue from him. If I gave any little children bad dreams, all I can say is, “Parents, your little ones will be fine. After all, look how I turned out.” On second thought …

All joking aside, I cannot overstate the value of organizations like IFYAC to the community. They spend a lot of money and harness a lot of talent to make shows like “Peter Pan” come to life. Think of the lumber, paint, nails and screws bought to build the sets. There’s the printing of posters and programs, and although the local media are generous it still costs money to advertise.

Although the numbers won’t be in until after the holidays, IFYAC President Kip Later (aka Bill Jukes) told me the $38,000 production had probably hit the break-even point Monday night. This is cause for celebration.

Looking beyond money, however, the true value lies much more in what these shows add to people’s lives. I’m thinking in particular of the 86 young people who gave all they had playing Lost Boys, pirates and Indians. I did not get to know all of them, but there were quite a few with whom I made friends. When I was their age I was in plenty of school and community productions, so I felt right in tune with the joy that comes from a common effort, working hard to pull off something spectacular. As Hook, I went “all-in,” mostly because I don’t know any other way but also to perhaps inspire the kids to let it all hang out.

At the end there is the applause, then the anti-climax that comes from tearing down the set, going home and returning to your normal life of washing the dishes, raking the leaves and going to algebra class (or in my case, sitting down at the computer and trying to think of something to write).

After an experience like this, none of us are ever the same. It gets in your blood. I hope that some of the children in the audience who saw me prancing and bellowing onstage said to themselves (or their parents), “That looks like more fun than humans are allowed to have.”
The night of our dress rehearsal, Jay Hildebrandt of Local News 8 interviewed me and some of the other cast members. We were happy that the show would be getting some free publicity. I read somewhere once that a story in the newspaper or on TV is 19 times more effective than an advertisement.

Looking for an angle, Jay asked how I view organizations like IFYAC at a time when education in art, music and drama is being cut in the public schools. I told him I don’t think these shows should ever be considered a substitution for arts education, but more as a supplement.

I’m all for the fundamentals, but there’s more to the world than science and math. Music, art and drama open us up to the possibilities inside ourselves. They allow us to see how amazing we truly can be. They are not an “after-dinner mint,” they are an essential part of the main course.

There’s a story I’ve occasionally seen on the Internet about Winston Churchill being asked about cutting funding for the arts to aid the war effort. He was quoted as saying, “Then what are we fighting for?”

Like so much of what goes up online, this story is not true, only “truthy.” There is no record of such an exchange. But in a 1938 speech to the Royal Academy, Churchill did say, "The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them … Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due."

Could Captain Hook have said it better? Split me infinitives, I think not.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tai-Pan Trading to open on 17th Street

Tai-Pan Trading will be going in next door to Sports Authority.
Tai-Pan Trading Co. will be setting up in the Hall Park Shopping Center at 1568 E. 17th Street, just east of Big Lots!

It is one of two Tai-Pan stores moving into Idaho, the other one being in Twin Falls. The Salt Lake-based company has five stores in Utah, one in California and one in Idaho, in Boise.

Shane Murphy of Venture One Properties, who negotiated the Idaho Falls lease, said he made overtures when he heard Tai-Pan was opening a store in Twin Falls. He himself is a Tai-Pan Trading fan, and he said he knows plenty of people who make special trips to Utah to shop there.

“They loved the location and the price was right,” Murphy said. “I think they already knew they wanted to come here.”

The lease is dated to take effect Feb. 1, 2016. The store will be occupying 22,750 square feet, where $2 Fabric used to be and in adjoining space where KC Frame currently is. There will be extensive remodeling, including new flooring and energy-efficient lighting.

On its Web site, Tai-Pan describes itself as “an importer of quality home décor products at affordable prices.” The company started in 1979 as a wholesale floral supplier, in a small space with two cash registers and very few parking stalls. As the business expanded into home decor, the owners decided to open a showroom and offer merchandise directly to the public.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Opera Elect returning to The Cellar this Saturday

Opera Elect -- Zach Buker and Jordan Michelle Bowman -- will perform Saturday night at The Cellar.
Opera Elect — Jordan Michelle Bowman and Zach Buker — will be back at The Cellar Saturday night, with special guests Lakotah Terrace and Idaho Fall's own Jason Dyer.

To mark the occasion, The Cellar will be offering a $30 opera-themed full course special: an overture appetizer, an opera-worthy stuffed pork chop main course, and an encore dessert. Drink specials include a "Carmen Tease" as well as "The Figaro." Regular menu items will also be provided.

Bowman and Buker say they paired up out of a desire to perform. Both studied music and vocal performance at the College of Idaho.”We want to perform, but the opportunities to do so are limited, especially for people as young as we are," said Bowman. "So we thought, well, let’s create our own opportunities."

The two have done opera parties throughout the Northwest, singing from the classical repertoire as well as more contemporary works. Right now, they are collaborating with Madelein Bowman, a friend and colleague, on an original work, “The Fortune Teller,” which they plan to debut next summer.

More information can be found at their Web site, operaelect.org. To make a reservation at The Cellar, call (208) 525-9300.

Subway to aid Community Food Basket

This holiday season, Idaho Falls Subway restaurants are collecting money to help the Idaho Falls Community Food Basket.
Subway restaurants in Idaho Falls are participating the SUBWAY Cares fund-raising program for Idaho Falls Community Food Basket (formerly the Community Food Bank).

Starting Sunday, customers will be able to donate at checkout by rounding up to the nearest dollar. All funds will go directly toward the Community Food Basket to help feed families in need during the holiday season. The program will run through Dec. 12.

“We’re thrilled to have this partnership with the Community Food Basket as we raise funds to assist in community awareness and feeding our neighbors that may be in need,” said Scott Sprague, owner of several Subway restaurants in southeast Idaho.

Subway Restaurants of Idaho Falls will present the Community Food Basket with a check totaling the collected amount on Dec. 14. Board members, managers and Subway staffers will join members of the Community Food Basket to celebrate.

“We are excited that Subway chose our organization to kick off the SUBWAY Cares Program,” said Bud Langerak, director of the Community Food Basket. “Our partnership has been incredibly significant to the organization as it looks to raise awareness and provide the community with food during this holiday season.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Idaho Falls Chamber CEO receives national scholarship

Michelle Holt
The Institute for Organization Management, the professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, has awarded Michelle Holt, CEO of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce, a National Institute Scholarship.

Given to professionals across the country, the National Institute Scholarships recognize each recipient for their involvement in industry professional organizations, community service, and professional background.

“(They) offer executives the opportunity to learn about emerging industry trends, expand their organizations’ influence, and grow their peer network,” said Raymond P. Towle, vice president of Institute for Organization Management at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “We are pleased to help these talented professionals advance their careers and organizations.”

Institute graduates receive the IOM recognition, signifying completion of 96 hours of course instruction in non-profit management. In addition, participants can earn credit hours toward the Certified Chamber Executive or Certified Association Executive certifications. Nearly 1,000 individuals attend each year.

Advertising Federation meeting Nov. 19 at Dixie's Diner

The Idaho Falls Advertising Federation will have its monthly Lunch & Learn session Nov. 19 at Dixie’s Diner. This month, the focus will be on the upcoming Gem Awards, IFAF’s annual celebration of the best advertising on this side of the state.

Awards Director Steve Fischbach will be on hand to give insights into the competition: Who sanctions it, judging criteria, this year's submission guidelines, and even tips on effective entry strategies.

Also, call for entries packets and entry envelopes will be available to anyone planning to submit work to this year's competition. Questions are welcome.

The meeting starts at 11:30 a.m. and includes lunch. Cost is $12 for members, $15 for guests. For more information, visit https://ifadfed.wordpress.com/.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

New intersection at 25th and Hitt Road to be dedicated Monday

City officials from Ammon and Idaho Falls on Monday will be opening the upgraded intersection of 25th Street and Hitt Road, just south of Target.

The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. with remarks from Ammon Mayor Dana Kirkham, followed by comments from Ammon City Councilman Brad Christensen and Idaho Falls City Council President Mike Lehto. The cities will cut the ceremonial ribbon by making a symbolic left turn onto Hitt Road through the ribbon and then circling back around to the green space along the new corridor.

Work on the improvements began Oct. 5 with H-K Contractors developing an exit-only roadway behind Target and a new four-way traffic signal. According to a press release from the city of Idaho Falls, work was completed on schedule and under budget. The cost of the signal upgrade, right-of-way work and materials was $147,300, and was shared equally between Ammon and Idaho Falls. The work beyond the Hitt Road right-of-way that connects the Target parking lot to the new intersection has been paid by the city of Ammon with support from Woodbury Corp.

Making a left turn out of the Ammon Town Square parking lot has been a headache for years. Because of the short distance between the 17th Street and 25th Street signals, Idaho Transportation Department regulations precluded another signal being put in.

Council members and department directors from both cities began talking in April 2014 about coordinating efforts along the Hitt Road corridor. Subcommittees were formed to evaluate and explore options for improvements at key intersections and projects were ranked by priority. After the work at Sunnyside at Hitt appeared to be on track, attention shifted to the East 25th Street and Hitt Road intersection, with an eye toward relieving traffic congestion along that corridor before the 2015 holiday season started.

One person who was instrumental in getting the project on the rails was the late Idaho Falls Councilman Dee Whittier, who will have a tree planted in his memory at the site.

”He was a tremendous partner who had a passion for this and other traffic issues,” Christensen said.
Redesign of the intersection at 17th and Hitt remains a high priority for both cities, but they do not anticipate any work this budget year. Both cities continue to investigate redesign and funding options.

Ace Hardware slated for west side location

An Ace Hardware store is going in where Rite-Aid Drug used to be.
If you've been on the west side, you might notice work being done at the long-vacant space in Westfield Plaza that used to be occupied by Rite-Aid. According to plans at the city of Idaho Falls Building Department, Peterson Enterprises is developing the space into an Ace Hardware store.

The project, at 1747 West Broadway, involves 14,075 square feet of space, with a sales floor of 11,711 square feet. I am still trying to find out who the franchisee is, but have information that it is a different company from the one running the store in Ammon.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

INL electric vehicle story gets posted on BuzzFeed

A screenshot of the BuzzFeed article, posted Tuesday.
Idaho National Laboratory has made it to BuzzFeed for the first time ever, with a list of the top eight things learned from a three year study of electric vehicles.

Here's the link: Eight Discoveries From the Largest Vehicle Charging Demonstration In The World.

If you don't think this is big, check out this link: By The Numbers: 14 Amazing Buzzfeed Statistics.

Basically, BuzzFeed has more than 200 million monthly unique visitors, half of them between 18 and 34 years old. Roughly 60 percent are reading on mobile devices.

Suppose 1 percent of BuzzFeed clicked on Tuesday's story about the INL. Doing the hypothetical math (my favorite kind), we divide 200 million by 30 (the days of the month), then divide that by 100 to get a rough total of 67,000 people. That's a lot of eyeballs of the little ol' INL.

Monday, November 2, 2015

MarCellar's celebrating 20 years in business

A nice row of reds at MarCellar's, on Park Avenue
MarCellar’s Vintage Wines and Brews is celebrating 20 years in business this month. In November 1995, Marcella Medor began offering wines and microbrews in a tiny space on Northgate Mile next door to the Hawg Smoke Café. The business quickly outgrew the space and moved to 431 Park Avenue, where it is today, microbrews and wines from all over the world.

To mark the anniversary, MarCellar’s will be having special events and offers. The main event will be Nov. 6, from 4 to 8 p.m, with a wine and beer tasting featuring representatives from Colter Creek, Huston and Cinder wineries. Wines from Split Rail, Camas, and Pend O’Reille wineries will also be served, as well as beers from Wildlife Brewing in Victor, Sockeye, Payette, Grand Teton and Edge breweries. Diablas Kitchen will be providing appetizers and there will be live music by Severed Ties starting at 6 p.m.  Proceeds from the tasting, raffle and silent auction will go to the Idaho Falls Exchange Club in support of Veterans Matter, a program supporting homeless veterans (www.veteransmatter.org).
Vince Bellon will be performing in the shop on Nov. 13, a great opportunity to listen to blues in a small venue.

For additional information, contact Marilynne at (208) 221-5142 or email marilynnem@gmail.com.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Advanced Test Reactor modifications receive recognition

For the second year in a row, Idaho National Laboratory has received recognition from industry peers for completion of a major engineering or construction modification.

The INL's Advanced Test Reactor dates back to the mid-1960s. Frequently upgraded, it remains the nation's leading nuclear energy research reactor.
The Advanced Test Reactor Transition to Commercial Power modification has been chosen by Engineering News-Record as the first-place winner in the energy-industrial category of its 2015 Best Projects competition. This includes new projects, or the renovations or modifications of existing facilities in the Mountain states.

The work demonstrated the successful collaboration of a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory with a manufacturer to design, fabricate, test and install a custom-built uninterruptible power supply that meets stringent U.S. nuclear safety and quality assurance requirements. This modification resulted in improved operational safety and reliability, significant carbon emission reductions, and major operating cost savings for the ATR, America’s leading nuclear energy research reactor.

In place of a system that required continuous operation of diesel generators, INL can expect an annual savings of $550,000 by using commercial electrical power and an energy-efficient, redundant battery system while the reactor is operating. Diesel generators are still in place and ready to operate as a backup source of power.

Ending continuous operation of the diesel generators significantly reduces the carbon footprint of INL. Eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of 225,000 gallons of diesel fuel provides a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 892 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually. This corresponds to a 100 percent reduction of process-related stationary combustion emissions for the ATR area, and a 28 percent reduction of overall INL stationary combustion emissions.

A panel of eight judges, including architects, general contractors, consultants, academics and engineers, selected winners in the 2015 Intermountain Area Best Projects competition. The ATR modifications are profiled in the October issue of ENR Mountain States.

EIRMC starts advice line

Does your child have a simple case of the sniffles, or does she need to come to the emergency room right away? A lot of parents don’t know, and when it’s after hours or on the weekend, when the doctor’s office is closed, they might err on the side of caution.

To help with situations like this, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center has started its “Ask a Nurse” Advice Line. When parents just aren’t sure what to do, they now have access to a pediatric medical professional over the phone who can advise them on the best course of action for their sick child. Parents can call, describe their child’s symptoms, and receive sound medical advice.

This service is now live and available weekdays from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. and 24 hours a day on weekends and holidays. Call (208) 497-6167 for fast, free advice.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tai Pan Trading says it's coming to Idaho Falls

The Tai Pan Trading store in St. George, Utah.
Tai Pan Trading Co., a home decor store chain based in Salt Lake City, posted on Facebook Oct. 19 that it is coming to Idaho Falls. Read the announcement here.

Efforts to reach Jon Lee, the company’s chief information officer, have been unsuccessful. Local sources in commercial real estate confirm that the store is likely to come, that people from the company have scouted the area. But a final leasing deal hasn't been reached and no one wants to say anything definite until papers are signed.

According to the company's Web site, Tai Pan Trading started in 1979 as a wholesale floral supplier, in a small space with two cash registers and very few parking stalls. As the business expanded into home decor, the owners decided to open a showroom and offer merchandise directly to the public.

In 2005 Tai Pan opened its first retail store in Sandy, Utah. It now has five stores in Utah, one in California and one in Idaho, in Boise. The Boise store opened in September 2011 after the company leased 30,000 square feet where the Borders book store had been, in Milwaukee Marketplace, near Barnes & Noble and JoAnn Fabrics. The space had been vacant for five years.

One last thing: The arrow on the map on the Facebook link would indicate the store is going in at the corner of Park Avenue and Broadway. Krisi Staten, executive director of the Downtown Development Corp. said she would love to have Tai Pan Trading in the middle of town, but added that anytime someone gives an address no more definite than "Idaho Falls" that's where the arrow ends up landing.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Chamber announces Business of Distinction winners

The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce has announced its winners of the Second Annual Business of Distinction Awards. A dinner will be held Nov. 13 at the Colonial Theater/Willard Arts Center.

Area companies being recognized are as follows:

  • Business Services Industry: Hopkins Roden Crockett Hansen & Hoopes
  • Financial Services Industry: Mountain America Credit Union
  • Healthcare Industry: Nuclear Care Partners
  • Hospitality & Tourism Industry: Hilton Garden Inn Idaho Falls
  • Non-Profit Organization: Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership
  • Real Estate & Construction Industry: AmeriTitle, Inc.
  • Retail Industry: Bill’s Bike and Run
  • Agriculture Industry: Reed’s Dairy, Inc.
  • Manufacturing & Engineering Industry: Idaho Brewing Company
  • Chamber Member of the Year (Small Division): Artcore Visual Studio
  • Chamber Member of the Year (Medium Division): Stevens-Henager College
  • Chamber Member of the Year (Large Division): Silver Star Communications
  • Tribute to Local Business (Sponsored by Melaleuca): Love at First Bite Mercantile
  • Wayne C. Hammond Award for Service to the Chamber: BBSI, Mike Richards and Jeremy 
  • Charlie White Award for Service to the Community: Citizens Community Bank, Becky 
  • Service to East Idaho Award: Lori Priest

The event will begin with a cocktail hour and reception at 6 p.m. in the Carr Gallery of the Willard Arts Center, followed by the awards ceremony in the Colonial Theater at 7:30 p.m.

This year’s Gold sponsor is Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.  Silver Sponsors are Melaleuca and Farr’s Jewelry. Bronze Sponsors include Riverbend Communications, the Bank of Commerce, I.E. Productions, KPVI News Channel 6, and Supporting Sponsors include Progrexion, Mountain View Hospital, Watkins Distributing, The Cellar, Petal Passion, and Signature Party Rental.

To purchase event tickets, visit www.idahofallschamber.com. Ticket prices are $45 for individuals and $75 for couples. Formal attire is requested.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bakery opening in Shane Building

The Shane Building, at the southwest corner of Shoup Avenue and A Street, will be the home of Idaho Falls’ newest bakery.

Business owner Lynn Winter said she hasn’t decided on a name for the business – Romeo’s is the leading contender – but that she hopes to be open in time for the holiday season.

They are moving into the space most recently occupied by Lily’s Consignment. A downtown landmark, the Shane Building is 100 years old this fall and, as can be expected in a renovation project of this type, Winter said she and the contractors have been peeling away decades’ worth of changes. The false ceilings have been removed to reveal the leaded glass work, and the mezzanine has been taken out to get everything onto one level.

Winter said they plan to serve pastries, sandwiches and soup. She estimates she will have about 1,200 square feet for the dining area and 800 square feet for the kitchen.

“We really need quite a lot of room to do the bagels,” she said.

Baking is nothing new to Winter. Her mother, Marjorie Bidwell, and aunt, Beth McCammon, had a custom bakery in Pocatello, and in high school and college she worked in a German bakery inside the long-gone OK’s grocery store.

“I’ve dipped a lot of donuts,” she said.

She later became the Post Register’s creative services director, but continued making custom wedding cakes, even winning prizes with them. “It’s just something I’ve always liked to do,” she said.

When she left the Post Register in 2007, she began baking more and charging for her work. The business grew, with her daughter, Angie Suseno, and son-in-law Sigit Suseno helping out. In fact,
Sigit, a former INL person, has developed a great love for baking and is likely to play a big part in the new business she said.

Opening a bakery is something she has always wanted to do, but Winter started looking at locations in earnest in 2013. “We’re really happy to be downtown,” she said.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fall River Electric schedules meetings over proposed rate increases

Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative has scheduled a series of meetings this week for interested owner-members regarding several rate increases proposed by its board of directors.

Owner-members of the co-op are invited to attend any one of three meetings scheduled for Ashton, Driggs, and West Yellowstone. The Ashton meeting is Thursday, Oct. 22, Driggs is Wednesday, Oct. 21 and West Yellowstone is set for tonight. Each meeting will be held at the respective offices of Fall River Electric and are set to begin at 7 p.m.

The rate increases are the result of Bonneville Power Administration’s increases to Fall River for both wholesale power and transmission costs. The BPA increases included 7.1 percent for wholesale power and 4.4 percent for transmission costs. Both went into effect Oct. 1.

No rate increase has been planned for Fall River residential members or irrigation accounts. According to Bryan Case, the CEO and general manager, “We have made significant efforts over the past few years to reduce our costs of operation, and the result of that effort is our board’s decision to absorb most of these BPA increases. Additionally, the board, at its regularly scheduled September meeting, proposed that there would not be any increase in residential rates or rates to our irrigation members.”

The recommendation from the board and management was to make slight increases to the co-op’s small general service accounts, large commercial accounts, and institute a monthly charge for idle services. Those proposals will be discussed at these upcoming member meetings.

As currently proposed, small general service members would see a 5 percent increase, which will average about $6.81 a month, while the large general service (commercial members) will see an increase of $1 a month. The board is also proposing a new monthly fee for “idle services” of $10 a month.

An idle service is defined as one which has power available but has been disconnected or is inactive, or the meter has been removed, or is not being billed for demand or a line and system maintenance fee.

Owner-members of the co-op are invited to attend any one of three meetings scheduled for Ashton, Driggs, and West Yellowstone. The Ashton meeting is Thursday, Oct. 22, Driggs is Wednesday, Oct. 21 and West Yellowstone is set for tonight. Each meeting will be held at the respective offices of Fall River Electric and are set to begin at 7 p.m.

Input from these meeting will be discussed at the board’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Oct. 26, at which time a final decision will be made regarding the proposed rate increases and its effective date. The final rate decision will be announced in the December issue of the cooperative’s monthly FLASHES newsletter and on its Web site, www.fallriverelectric.com and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FallRiverREC.