Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Japanese restaurant opens in Teton Spectrum

Fuji Japanese Hibachi and Sushi, in the Teton Spectrum.
Fuji Japanese Hibachi & Sushi has opened at 2625 S. 25th East, in the Teton Spectrum where Game World used to be.

Based in Little Rock, Ark., the chain typically seeks out smaller markets for its restaurants — places like Grand Island, Neb., and Rapid City, S.D. “We have discovered people love food in the small cities,” said spokeswoman Michelle Guo. “We would like everybody in the community to give us a shot when we open.”

The interior d├ęcor has a Japanese theme including hibachi tables where the chef prepares the meal in the middle of the table, which contains a heating element.

There is also a sushi bar, where diners can watch the chef at work preparing rolls and sushi pieces.
The Ammon location has 16 hibachi stations and a separate banquet room that can accommodate up to 40. Overall, the seating capacity is 323.

Hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

To view the menu, visit http://experiencefuji.com/home/3162136. To like them on Facebook, click here.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Pulitzer Prize winning author to speak April 9 in Idaho Falls

Diane McWhorter
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Diane McWhorter, author of Carry  Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climatic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution, will be the speaker at the Idaho Humanities Council's 8th Annual Eastern Idaho Distinguished Humanities Lecture and Dinner on Thursday, April 9, 7 p.m., at the Shilo Inn in Idaho Falls.

Tickets are available for purchase by clicking here or by calling the IHC toll free at 888-345-5346.

General tickets are $45. Benefactor tickets are $75 and include an invitation to a pre-dinner reception with McWhorter in a private home and preferred seating at the dinner and lecture.

At the Shilo, the evening will begin with a no-host reception at 6 p.m. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m. with McWhorter's talk to follow. Copies of Carry Me Home will be available onsite from Barnes and Noble, and McWhorter will be available for signing afterwards.

The event is being supported by the William J. and Shirley A. Maeck Family Foundation, Teton Toyota and Volkswagen, Bank of Idaho, Idaho Public Television, INL, Barnes and Noble, Melaleuca, Steve and Cindy Carr, the Carr Family Foundation and KISU Radio.

A native of Birmingham, McWhorter started Carry Me Home as an effort to understand her own family's involvement in the cataclysmic events of 1963. "McWhorter pursued her search as both daughter and citizen, making her family a metaphor for her country," says the writeup in the New York Times Book Review of March 18, 2001. "Each encounters its own wrongdoing and lives with suspicions about itself, but her family's revelations inspire more relief than what she learns about her country."

Currently a professor at Harvard University, McWhorter is an American journalist and commentator who has written extensively about race and the history of civil rights in America. She is a longtime contributor to the New York Times and has written for the op-ed page of USA Today, Slate, and many other publications. Carry Me Home was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize in 2002. It also won the Southern Book Critics Circle Award, is one of Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Non-fiction Books since 1923, and made the "Best Books List" in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Chicago Tribune, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and American Heritage.

Here is a program from 2013 in which McWhorter talks about her experience researching and writing about civil rights in her native state.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Teton Toyota celebrating 10th anniversary this weekend

Mario Hernandez
Teton Toyota/Scion will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this weekend, and to say the past 10 years have not been an adventure would be a gross understatement.

Pocatello native Mario Hernandez came to Idaho Falls in 2005 to take over Rocky Mountain Toyota when it was still on East Anderson Street. At the time, Sunnyside Road had not been expanded westward to link with Interstate 15, and the Snake River Landing development was in its birthing stages.

Hernandez and his crew led the land rush to the south, planning a new dealership on the north side of Sunnyside. It opened there about the same time the economy went into recession, but at least publicly Hernandez never questioned the wisdom of the move.

Ten years later, Teton Toyota has been joined by Teton Volkswagen in Idaho Falls and Teton Honda and Teton Hyundai are coming to Pocatello.

In its ten years, the company has proved itself a good corporate citizen, supporting events like the Great Race for Education. Hernandez and his wife, Glenda, are involved with The Idaho Falls Arts Council, the Idaho Falls Symphony, the Snake River Animal Shelter, School Districts 91 and 93, the Holy Rosary School, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Ducks Unlimited.

The celebration begins today at 11 a.m. Lunch will be served today and tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Anniversary pricing will be available all weekend. And of course Buddy, Hernandez’s black lab, will be on hand to greet guests.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hotel on the Falls reopens today

The view from the balcony of the Hotel on the Falls' Presidential Suite, on the eighth floor.
The Hotel on the Falls, an Idaho Falls landmark for almost 40 years, is back in business today, with a new owner and refurbished rooms.

The 85-room, eight-story building at 475 River Parkway, which dates back to 1978, when it was known as the Westbank Tower, was sold at auction Jan. 22. The new owner is Idaho Falls Lodge LLC, a company affiliated with Colorado Hospitality Services Inc. of Northglenn, Colo. Colorado Hospitality Services is owned by Bruce Rahmani of Denver, Colo. The Bonneville County Assessor’s Office reported the sale price to be $2.3 million.

It had gone into receivership in June 2014, when the property’s  then-owner, Idaho Hotel Holdings, filed a default judgment against the management company, Om Shiv Ganesh LLC, for more than $3.4 million. In the interim, it was run by Westerra Realty & Management, a Salt Lake City company that found the new buyers.

"It's in pretty good shape, really," said Brady Kraupp, who has managed the property throughout the transition and oversaw the refurbishing of rooms. There are new TVs, artwork, linens and furniture, but the eight-story hexagonal tower still boasts a lot of its old character. ”I could be partial, but we still have the best view and the biggest rooms,” Kraupp said.

The Westbank dates back to 1928, when Ferris Clark, son of Mayor Barzilla W. Clark and the grandson of Joseph A. Clark, Idaho Falls' first mayor, built two log buildings by the Snake River to accommodate an ever-growing number of motorists on their way to Yellowstone National Park. Over 52 years, Clark expanded the Westbank, first with a red brick motel, then a restaurant and lounge, then a two-story red brick motel. Clark is said to have had plans for a second tower, but declining health sent him into retirement in 1980. He died in 1987 at age 79.

Since the '80s, the hotel has gone by different names, including Red Lion and finally the Hotel on the Falls. Until 2012, the property was owned by Jim and Sharon Bennett and Robert and Sharon Paulus, the children of Olga Gustafson Rigby. In 2012, the hotel was deeded to trusts set up by the families while local businessman Dane Watkins bought the motel, restaurant and lounge and convention center.

Watkins told BizMojo Idaho in November he is looking for someone interested in leasing or buying the business. Signs in the door to the restaurant say "Closed for remodeling," but they're waiting to hear what any potential operator might say needs to be done, he said, adding that he recognizes the site's great location and historical significance.
Empty boxes in the hotel lobby, waiting to be carted away.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fire marshal may ask third party to examine water supply to business park

The Waxie Sanitary Supply warehouse at 3839 American Way, which burned early Friday. With water from a private well, the hydrant in front did not have adequate pressure and ran dry after 15 minutes.
While investigators zero in on what caused a fire last week that destroyed a cleaning supply warehouse south of Idaho Falls, Fire Marshal Ken Anderson said he may ask a third party to check into the water supply at the business park where the warehouse burned.

Firefighters were called to the scene early Friday after Bonneville County Sheriff's deputies responded to a burglar alarm. When they arrived, they found the water pressure from the hydrant in front of Waxie Sanitary Supply, 3839 American Way, incapable of supplying enough water to fight the blaze, running dry after 15 minutes. The next nearest hydrant also was inadequate, and it wasn't until they found one 500 feet away, near the Staples warehouse (which has its own water supply and pump), that they were able to get the blaze under control. By then, the fire had consumed the warehouse's storage area. A firewall in the building kept the office from being destroyed, Anderson said.

The Sunnyside Business Park is not inside Idaho Falls city limits and is not on the city's water system. Anderson said the hydrant in front of the Waxie warehouse appeared to be connected to a domestic well capable of pumping around 500 gallons per minute. Under the current state fire code, a warehouse the size of Waxie’s, roughly 4,000 square feet, would require 1,700 gallons per minute for two hours, he said.

“The insurance company could say, ‘If we’re going to rebuild this building it has to have an adequate water supply,” Anderson said. Likewise, insurance carriers may want to examine whether they are giving property owners in the park discounts based on the belief that the fire protection is greater than it actually is.

Under the agreement between the Idaho Falls Fire Department and Bonneville County Fire Protection District No. 1, the city fire marshal conducts investigations in both jurisdictions.

Though the city of Idaho Falls requires sprinkler systems for commercial buildings, Anderson said the state and county do not require buildings like the Waxie warehouse to have one. “You have to have x amount of stuff in a fire area before the code says you have to have a sprinkler system,” he said.

Nevertheless, without a sprinkler system and with inadequate water from the private hydrant, fighting the fire was harder. "If we're going to do our job, we have to have water and a way to get it there," Anderson said.

The loss has been estimated at more than $1 million.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Walgreen's plans to open west side store on Friday

The facade of the new store at Skyline and Broadway.
Walgreen's is planning to open its new store on Idaho Falls' west side this Friday.

The store at 1604 West Broadway is one of the Illinois-based chain's "Well Experience" locations, company spokesman Phil Caruso said. Walgreen’s introduced the format in 2010, hoping to offer more integrated health and wellness products. It includes a private consultation room for meeting with pharmacists and receiving health services like flu shots and vaccination. The front of the store focuses on daily living needs, including beauty, health and household products.

“It is set up to focus on wellness and healthy living, which we hope you will see from the floor plan and the way it's set up," he said.

Walgreen's has been doing business on the west side at 1850 West Broadway, where it moved in after buying Westgate Drug nearly 10 years ago. The staff and all prescription files will be moved Thursday night, so anyone who gets a prescription earlier in the week and plans to pick it up Friday will have to go to the new store, Caruso said.

Using a Realtor vs. For Sale By Owner

Tanyan Davies-Wall
Homeowners know their homes better than anyone else, but that doesn't always mean they are the best salespeople for their homes.

Some sellers try For-Sale-By-Owner because they want to avoid paying a commission to real estate agents. Others are tempted into believing that in a sellers market their homes ought to be easy to sell on their own.

Statistics show that selling your home with a Realtor will bring you a higher profit, even with the commission taken out. The National Association of Realtors reported that in 2013 the average FSBO sale price was $175,000 while average sale price with an agent was $215,000. That doesn't necessarily mean a Realtor can get you an additional 23 percent in profit. But he or she may have a better idea of what your home is worth and what can be done to get the best price for it.

 Consider the advantages a Realtor has:
  • Access to market data to position the home on the market appropriately
  • Evaluation of the local market and comparable home  values
  • Expertise on how to improve a home’s appearance by staging and minor repairs, so it will appeal to a wider  audience of buyers 
  • Expertise at negotiating contracts and paperwork and scheduling of inspections and appraisals. 
  • Access to advertising, including the Multiple Listing Service and other media.
  • Flexibility to show the property when you aren’t available
  • The option of screening visitors to your home, which provides a measure of safety
  • Ability to coordinate with the buyer’s agent through the escrow process
  • Expertise at closing, making sure everything is correct, evaluating documents and answering questions. 
Most buyers use an agent to help in negotiating their contract with the seller. People who go the FSBO route have to rely on themselves to finalize a contract. The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19 percent to 9 percent over the last 20 years.

Think about it. You may end up selling your home for less money and having to deal with legal problems unless you seek the help of an attorney to advise on the legal aspects of the contract. This is why most sellers prefer to work with an agent rather than risk an unsatisfactory home selling experience.
Tanyan Davies-Wall is a Realtor with Voigt-Davis Realty and a member of the Square One business development network.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Silver Star plans data center for Idaho Falls

Ron McCue
Silver Star Communications is planning to set up a data center in Idaho Falls by next summer, but the challenge is to find a building the right size that is in the right place.

Ron McCue, the company’s president and chief operating officer, said they envision an operation between 30,000 and 50,000 square feet located in a spot that can serve both Idaho Falls Power and Rocky Mountain Power.

“We would like to find an existing building to retrofit,” he said. Rather than constructing something new and nondescript, the company would much prefer to find and interesting old building to remodel. He estimated the cost will be more than $10 million.

Silver Star has already been partnering with Idaho Falls Power, using the city’s dark fiber to provide service to commercial and industrial customers. From Idaho Falls, it has its own fiber to Salt Lake City, where it has Tier 1 servers in the Kearns Building.

“We think eastern Idaho is incredibly important to our economic vitality,” McCue said.

The company has a commitment to rural customers that dates back to the 1920s, when farmers and ranchers in lower Star Valley, Wyoming, built their own phone system. Silver Star Telephone Co. was incorporated in 1948 and in 1953 it a loan from the Rural Electrification Administration that allowed them to build a modern dial system.

Melvin and Ardell Hoopes purchased the controlling interest in the company in 1956, eventually acquiring the remaining stock, and by 1961 they had expanded service into Idaho, providing service to Irwin, Palisades and Swan Valley, and expanding in 1964 to serve the tiny communities of Henry and Wayan.

McCue came to work for the company in 1989, just in time for the revolutionary changes brought on by the Internet. There is no such thing as a telephone company anymore. “Companies really need to be focused on being a broadband company,” he said.

Good Internet service is essential to electrical utilities operating at maximum efficiency. By having large commercial and industrial customers on a high-capacity system, Idaho Falls Power can shed load automatically during times of peak usage. “Say you’ve got a really hot day during the summer when everyone is running their air conditioners at maximum capacity,” McCue said. “We can find industrial equipment that may be unnecessarily consuming power and shut it down, avoiding brownouts and outages.”

Silver Star also sees opportunity in Ammon, which has been building its own fiber network the past three or four years. Unlike Idaho Falls’ network, which dates back more than 10 years and is focused mainly on serving government and business, Ammon is stringing fiber to residences as well.

“People take rising levels of speed for granted,” McCue said. “In a way, it’s just like the old days. When they called Aunt Bessie in Denver, they didn’t really care how the call was routed.”

Thursday, March 19, 2015

EIRMC fills three leadership positions

Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center announced today that three leadership positions have been filled, two by people in interim positions.

Dr. Aaron Harris has been named executive director of  EIRMC's Behavioral Health Center. For the past five years, Harris has served in multiple clinical and leadership roles at the Robert J. Dole Veterans Administration Medical Center – a level 2 teaching facility in Wichita, Kan. Most recently, he served as the associate chief of staff, providing daily operational oversight and strategic direction to more than 100 staff and 14 mental health programs. He and his wife, Erin, have six children.

Iris Torvik, current interim director of women's services will be continuing her role permanently at EIRMC. Before coming to EIRMC, she served as the vice president of Baylor University Medical Center, a 1,017-bed flagship hospital of Baylor Health Care System in Dallas, Texas, a position she held for 10 years. She is most looking forward to helping build the Women’s and Children’s Services lines.

Barry Hawthorne, interim director of emergency services, will be continuing his role permanently at EIRMC. Hawthorne has worked in health care for more than 35 years. With a base of clinical services in ED, Trauma and Open Heart Critical Care, Barry brings over 10 years in CNO roles and over 6 years in transitional/ interim leadership/operational consultant roles across the nation.
Hawthorne said decided to stay at EIRMC because he loves the people here and sees great potential for EIRMC to lead the region in emergency care.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Black Rock plans March 28 grand opening

Vino Rosso is no more. Black Rock Fine Wine and Craft Beer is planning a grand opening March 28. New owner Chuck Chute, who bought the A Street business from Bret and Sara Scibior, has repainted the interior dark sage and peppercorn grey, and the bar top and fireplace have been refaced with stone. “We want to take all the best that is already here and optimize it,” Chute said. That will include more music and food. Since the place has a kitchen, Chute described his culinary concept as “small plates, big flavor, low cost.”

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Melaleuca holds open house at new world headquarters

Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot speaking on the grand staircase Monday at the company's new world headquarters south of Idaho Falls.
Melaleuca held an open house Monday at its new world headquarters south of Idaho Falls. Given its size, it’s impossible to ignore whichever way you are headed on Interstate 15.

With a 355,000-square-foot floor plan, it’s big enough to cover six football fields. The facility incorporates at large meeting room that can hold 1,700 people, a call center that can hold 400, and all the company’s research and development labs and audio and video studios.

All of it is paid for, said CEO Frank VanderSloot. With facilities in Idaho Falls, Rexburg, Knoxville, Tenn., and Shanghai, China, the company is debt-free, he said.

As big and new as the world headquarters building is, Melaleuca’s 30-year history has been mostly one of renovating old places. The company started in the old S&H Green Stamp building on Broadway in downtown Idaho Falls, where it stayed until 1991. By that point, worldwide sales had brought things to the point where people were crammed in shoulder to shoulder.

When the Ziggy’s Hardware store on South Yellowstone became available, that’s where they moved, renovating it and, in time, a building next door, acquired from the city of Idaho Falls. Meanwhile, research and development was conducted in the old Union Pacific depot, attracting hardly anyone’s attention.

The move to the location near Exit 113 has been a long time in the making. The company opened its $11 million, 150,000-square-foot distribution center there in 2007, announcing that it had repaid in full the $2.5 million interest-free loan it had received from the Regional Development Alliance in 2002. The RDA administers money from the 1995 settlement between the State of Idaho, U.S. Navy and Department of Energy over spent fuel at the Idaho National Laboratory.

At the time of the shipping center’s opening VanderSloot said he had created three time the jobs it had promised the RDA in its proposal.

The announcement that Melaleuca was moving its world headquarters came in December 2012, a year after the company announced its worldwide sales had passed the $1 billion mark.

The complex has been a keystone in the development of infrastructure in the New Sweden area. In 2004, it announced it was contributing $1.3 million toward the Regional Wastewater Treatment Project, a joint effort between Shelley, Ammon, Bonneville and Bingham counties (another $500,000 came from the State of Idaho).

When it came to the actual construction of the $60 million world headquarters, Bateman-Hall of Idaho Falls was the general contractor. Thirty-two Idaho subcontractors were engaged in the project, including Johnson Brothers of Idaho Falls, which did all of the woodwork.
Melaleuca vice-president Damond Watkins speaking Monday in the meeting room at Melaleuca's new world headquarters.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Guns and Gear owner to speak at Advertising Federation luncheon

Ryan Later of Guns and Gear will be the next guest at the Idaho Falls Advertising Federation's “Lunch and Learn” series, March 19 at Dixie’s Diner.

Later’s life took a dramatic turn when he was robbed at gunpoint at a business where he was working. In addition to thinking about life, he decided he needed a firearm for his own protection. From there, the idea for Guns and Gear took shape.

He teamed up with Shane and Dixie Murphy in 2012, and in November 2014 they opened their $3 million indoor shooting range and gun shop.

Located on Crane Drive, Guns and Gear features tactical and static target lanes with the latest computer technology and an HVAC system compliant with EPA regulations. Overall, Later and the Murphys spent $2.8 million on the two-story, 15,000-square-foot building, which overlooks the Snake River Landing development, and $700,000 on equipment.

At the Ad Fed luncheon, Later will talk about how to develop a new business marketing plan that is effective and meets your company’s goals.

The luncheon will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost is $12 for members and $15 for non-members.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

'MORE' the theme of 2015 Mayors' Business Day

The sixth annual Mayors’ Business Day is scheduled to be held April 21 from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Keefer’s Island Convention Center, 780 Lindsay Boulevard, in the Shilo Inn. This year’s event is titled “It’s About MORE ... How Economic Development Can Bring More Business for All.”

Registration and breakfast will be from 7:30 to 8 a.m. The program will then start, featuring six presentations. Time will be allotted between each presentation for guests to visit business vendors set up around the perimeter of the room.

Featured presentations include:

Why Do We Want More? Local Businesses Use Economic Development to Grow
Presented by Mont Crnkovich and Ann-Michelle Jones of Broadway Ford, moderated by Linda Martin of Grow Idaho Falls

How Do We Get More Here? Regional Mayors’ Perspectives on Economic Development
Presented by Mayor Rebecca Casper (Idaho Falls), Mayor Dana Kirkham (Ammon), Mayor Paul Loomis (Blackfoot) and Mayor Stacy Pascoe (Shelley)

How Did the Magic Valley Get More? Big Recruitment Wins Create More Business for All
Presented by Jan Rogers of the Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization and Shawn Barigar of the Twin Falls Chamber

How Can the State Help Our Region Get More? More Assets Mean More Opportunities to Sell Our Area
Presented by Susan Davidson of the Idaho Department of Commerce

What is Eastern Idaho’s Plan for Getting More? An Introduction to Regional Economic Development
Presented by the Regional Economic Development Initiative Board of Directors

Tools for Getting Even More: Development Perspectives on Having the Right Tools
Presented by Tommy Ahlquist of Gardner Company, with an introduction by Cortney Liddiard of Ball Ventures

Pre-registration for the event is required. Seating is limited. The cost to attend is $60 for chamber members and $75 for non-members. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.idahofallschamber.com.

We leave you with the late Andrea True and her smash disco hit from 1976, "More More More." You have our permission to do the Hustle.

Noodles & Company plans May 4 opening in Idaho Falls

Noodles & Company's restaurant in Idaho Falls.
Noodles & Company has set a tenative opening date of May 4 for its Idaho Falls restaurant. This has been a long time in the making, as we first reported last May that the company had filed a site plan with the city of Idaho Falls to build a 2,812-square-foot restaurant on a pad in the Grand Teton Mall parking lot facing Hitt Road, east of the main mall structure.

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

The company was founded in 1995 by Aaron Kennedy, a Pepsi marketing executive who got the idea after eating at Mamie's Asian Noodle Shop in Greenwich Village. Kennedy felt there were not enough restaurants that served noodle dishes. So, using personal savings and investments from friends and family, he started Noodles & Co. in Denver's Cherry Creek neighborhood. After a rocky start,  the management team overhauled the concept and food critics in several cites began identifying it as the best fast-food restaurant. It grew from $300,000 in revenues in 1996 to $300 million when it went public in 2013.

For a look at the menu, click here.

Monday, March 9, 2015

EIRMC announces three promotions

From left: Scott Bradley, Kendal Beazer and Craig Keller
Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center has announced three promotions.

Scott Bradley has been named director of laboratory services, according to a hospital news release. Since starting with EIRMC in 2005, Bradley has been a phlebotomist, medical lab scientist, chemistry supervisor, assistant lab manager and lab manager. He holds a medical lab scientist degree from Idaho State University and also a master’s of business administration from ISU.

Kendal Beazer has been promoted to Bradley’s prior position, manager of laboratory services. Beazer has been a medical lab scientist since 2009. He came to EIRMC from Utah Public Health Labs in Taylorsville, Utah. He received a master’s in health administration from Weber State University in April 2014.

Craig Keller is the new director of nursing at EIRMC’s Behavioral Health Center. He had served there as the interim director of nursing and case manager November 2014.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What Icarus Can Teach You About “Return-Free Risk”

Brad Christensen
Yellowstone Partners Wealth Management

Most of us know the story of Icarus, the Greek mythological figure who flew too close to the Sun. But do you know the whole story?

Together with his father, Daedalus, Icarus was imprisoned in the labyrinth by King Minos of Crete. Unwilling to submit to captivity, Daedalus gathered feathers and wax and made wings for himself and for his son.

As they prepared to escape, he offered Icarus two points of advice. His first caution was the one we all know, “Do not fly too high, for the heat of the sun will melt the wax and leave you wingless.” But the second, which time seems to have forgotten, was this: “Do not fly too low, for the waves of the ocean will overtake you.”

Icarus soared too high and felt the heat of the sun remove his wings before plunging to his death. If he had flown too low, perhaps we’d more easily recall the second warning, but that’s not how it happened.

In conversations with clients almost every day, I often discuss the balance between risk and reward – between flying too high and flying too low. Every investor wrestles with risk and return. It’s immensely frustrating that return only comes to those who expose themselves to risk, and it doesn’t seem greedy to desire a solid return on investment without the potential to lose, but in today’s low interest-rate environment this is reality.

With yields on CDs, money-market funds, and bonds near historic lows, we’ve entered into a time when cash-equivalent assets suffer from the same type of danger Icarus would have been exposed to had he flown too low. Warren Buffett, one of the world’s great investors, has dubbed it “return-free risk.”

In a February 2012 article for Fortune magazine, Buffett detailed his investment philosophy, specifically, why he prefers stocks over gold and bonds for the long-term. In it, he divides the universe of investment opportunities into three separate classes.

1. Currency-denominated assets (bonds, CDs, money market funds). These are common investment instruments and are commonly denoted as “secure.” Some subsets of this class have historically been described as offering “risk-free return.”

2. Non-productive assets (oil, precious metals). Investors generally accumulate these assets on the premise that they are undervalued relative to an unknown future value. The principal problem with this class is that there is no mechanism for these investments to procreate.  Derivation of gain will come only from supply/demand re-pricing.

3. Productive assets (farms, businesses, real estate). Whether owned in the public market or in private, productive assets are generally capable of yielding annual return which may be reinvested or returned to owners.

Even from their definitions the productive asset category has a clear advantage over the others in the sense those assets are procreative. Consider the farm example, which may be capable of producing a variety of crops each year while still maintaining an intrinsic value of the land, which may fluctuate based on supply and demand.

Buffett is high on productive assets for good reason, as is demonstrated by the graphic below, an asset category historical return “quilt” that plots return statistics for each category over the past 20 years.  Even from a glance at the averages, it’s clear to see that the return profile favors the third class.

The four boxes mopping up the bottom of the list hail from the currency-denominated and non-productive categories. While these investments have their place in short-term investing, when it comes to an extended time-frame, this is precisely when the notion of “risk-free return” flips to the more accurate depiction of “return-free risk.”

When it comes to selecting an overall investment allocation, emotional schools of thought vary, from purchasing the previous year’s top loser (in hopes of a drastic recovery) to purchasing the previous year’s top performer (in hopes of a repeat performance).

Yet, a more rational approach is to build a diversified portfolio – consisting of productive assets such as small/mid/large cap stocks and real estate investment trusts (REITs), which will ultimately provide strong performance balanced with some of the other categories to reduce exposure to the extremes and safely navigate a solid return.

Precisely what Daedalus advised his son.
Click on the chart for a more detailed look at it and click here for even more information.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tobin Cleaning & Restoration plans March 11 grand opening

Tobin Cleaning and Restoration has scheduled a March 11 grand opening of its new new location at 3466 E. 20th North, one block north of the intersection of Ammon and Lincoln roads.

The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a ribbon cutting at 11:30 a.m. A free lunch will follow, and there will be a superhero photo booth, spin-to-win games and a chance to meet the staff.

The company is also unveiling the new Esporta is4000, a machine designed to clean almost any soft
item, even the ones your dry cleaner won’t touch.

“Our new location will allow Tobin Cleaning & Restoration to provide expanded services
to our customers. We are fortunate to serve extraordinary families and businesses who have made this new building possible,” said Rhett Judy, Tobin’s owner.

In business since 1972, Tobin Cleaning and Restoration provides service to homes and businesses affected by fire and water damage or mold, also those in need of specialized restoration services. The new location features a flooring showroom, courtesy of Stapleton Flooring, which allows customers an opportunity to conveniently choose their new flooring and arrange flooring restoration services.

For more information, visit www.tobinrestoration.com.

D.L. Evans schedules March 18 grand opening for Ammon branch

D.L. Evans Bank has scheduled March 18 as the date for the grand opening of its Ammon branch,  2634 East Sunnyside Road, in the Sandcreek Commons Center. The event begins at 4 p.m.

The branch is a full-service location offering a full range of banking products and services, President and CEO John V. Evans said in a news release.

The bank was founded in Albion in 1904 with $25,000. Today, D.L. Evans Bank has total assets of more than $1.2 billion, with 26 branches in Idaho.

The Ammon branch was designed under sustainable guidelines by Erstad Architects and built by Construction Solutions Co., a local general contractor in Idaho Falls. Byron Wiscombe will serve as vice president branch manager, the release said.

Lientz appointed to head new INL directorate

Amy Lientz
Amy Lientz of the Idaho National Laboratory has been appointed to head a newly formed directorate: Partnerships, Engagement and Technology Deployment.

In this position, she will be in charge of the lab’s communications and governmental affairs, technology deployment, and university programs and educational outreach.

Lientz has more than 20 years of experience in program management for the energy and environmental industries. Before she became the INL’s director of governmental affairs and communications she was a vice president of CH2MHill.  She is a graduate of Boise State University in environmental science and holds a master’s degree from the College of Engineering at the University of Idaho.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Are low gas prices here to stay a while?

I’ve been writing gasoline price stories for decades, and one thing I know is that no matter how much your sources say the numbers at the pump are related to supply and demand, most Americans think something shady is going on.

A year ago, who would have dared to think regular unleaded would be selling for less than $3 a gallon. Yet as I’m looking right now at the GasBuddy app on my phone, I see local prices are generally in the range of $1.90, with $2.15 reported at the Chevron on Grandview. Last week I gassed up my Subaru for $1.64. Horror! I expect very soon to see Facebook friends posting, “The fix is in!”

Is our era of good feeling coming to an end? This is a time of year when we see gas prices start to rise, typically peaking around Memorial Day. Conventional wisdom and past experience suggest our respite is likely to be short-lived, but Bradley Olson at Bloomberg Business dares to suggest that low oil prices could be here for a while and perhaps quite a while.

A growing consensus is emerging from the likes of BP Plc, the International Energy Agency, shale wildcatters and even the Saudis that a near-term recovery to $100-a-barrel crude isn’t in the cards. Instead, expect a range of $50 to $60 for at least the next few years.

When oil prices plunged sharply in 2008, they rebounded almost as quickly. Several months ago, industry and government touted the same U or V-shaped recovery this time out. On closer examination, a new factor in the marketplace — shale oil — has changed their minds.

“This is the new normal,” Dennis Cassidy, co-leader of the oil and natural gas practice for consulting company AlixPartners, said in an interview. His group sees an L-shaped chart that could extend for three to five years.

Unlike other petroleum formations, the nature of shale — with multiple inexpensive, short-lived wells — means producers can stop and start drilling on a dime. On the one hand, this allows them to quickly cut costs in a downturn; on the other, every time prices tick up, so will their output — renewing downward pressure on prices.

To read the full story, follow this link: L-shaped Oil Recovery Flattens V-shaped Market Optimists. And, as they used to say at the ESSO station, "Happy motoring!"

Index shows rise in Idaho Falls home prices

Here is a line graph showing what the price of a $150,000 home in the Idaho Falls area would have done over the last 10 years. After peaking around $195,000 in the first half of 2008, the number slid to around $164,000 in mid-2011 and bobbed along between that number and $170,000 until third quarter of $2014.
If you bought a $150,000 home in the fourth quarter of 2004, the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Calculator says it would be roughly worth this in the fourth quarter of 2014:

Idaho Falls: $171,411  +14.3%
Pocatello: $179,618  +19.7%
Boise: $188,740  +25.8%
Reno: $123,048  -17.9%
Las Vegas: $108,277  -27.8%
Seattle: $192,029  +28%
Phoenix: $165,778 +10.5%
Here's a graph for Boise. Note that Joe Homeowner was underwater from Q1 2011 to Q2 2012, but recovery has been strong since then. 
Go ahead and try your house, but remember the House Price Calculator does not project the actual value of any particular house. What it projects is what a given house purchased at a point in time would be worth today if it appreciated at the average appreciation rate of all homes in the area. The actual value of any house will depend on the neighborhood, house condition and age, home improvements made and needed, and many other factors. Consult a qualified real estate appraiser in your area to obtain a professional estimate of the current value of your home. Title XI of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 requires that any appraisal used in connection with a federally related transaction must be performed by a competent individual whose professional conduct is subject to supervision and regulation. Appraisers must be licensed or certified according to state law.

Monday, March 2, 2015

EITC Foundation announces award recipients

The Eastern Idaho Technical College Foundation has announced this year’s recipients of its annual awards, recognizing contributors, corporate partners, outstanding faculty and staff.
The awards will be presented April 8 at the Shilo Inn, at the foundation’s annual banquet and scholarship ceremony.

The award recipients are:

  • EITC Foundation Contributor of the Year — William Maeck/Maeck Family Foundation
  • Corporate Partner of the Year — Teton Toyota/Mario and Glenda Hernandez
  • Richard and Lila Jordan Outstanding Faculty of the Year: Peggy Nelson, EITC division manager
  • EITC Foundation Outstanding Staff of the Year: Pamela LeVan, student services. 

All award recipients will be featured in an article in INVEST magazine (a foundation publication) and photos displayed on the EITC Campus.

RSVP’s are required for the scholarship banquet. For more information, call (208) 535-5398 or email natalie.hebard@my.eitc.edu.

Longtime City Clerk Rosemarie Anderson retiring

Kathy Hampton and Rosemarie Anderson on the steps of City Hall.
Longtime City Clerk Rosemarie Anderson, who started with a manual typewriter and served under five Idaho Falls mayors, is stepping down in a month and being replaced by Kathy Hampton, who was named at the Idaho Falls City Council meeting last Thursday.

Anderson, who began working for the city 31 years ago under Mayor S. Eddie Pedersen, announced her retirement earlier this year. Rose Anderson began her employment with the city in the Public Works Division, where she met her husband, Steve Anderson. In her career with the city she also worked in the Police Department and for Personnel, Planning & Building and Municipal Services.

“Rose was instrumental with assisting in the organization of the Historic Preservation District, as well as many departmental filing systems throughout the city,” said Municipal Services Director Craig Rockwood.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to have served this city and its citizens for the past 31 years,” Anderson said. “I had the distinct opportunity to work for five of our city’s mayors – S. Eddie Pedersen, Thomas Campbell, Linda Milam, Jared Fuhriman and now Rebecca Casper.”

Hampton, who will take office April 5, has worked for the city since April 2007. She started in the treasurer’s office and was made the city’s deputy clerk in December that same year.

She is completing her training through the Association of Idaho Cities and Boise State University to become a Certified Municipal Clerk with the State of Idaho. Last September, she was awarded one of the Mayor’s “Above & Beyond” employee recognition awards for exemplary service to the city.

Idaho Falls Fire Department mourns Roland Clark, Idaho's first paramedic

Roland "R.C" Clark in his days with the Idaho Falls Fire Department
The Idaho Falls Fire Department is mourning the passing of Roland Clark, a retired division chief and the first paramedic in the State of Idaho.

Clark died Feb. 12 at age 73 at his home in Apache Junction, Ariz., from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

He started working for the fire department in 1965 and became a paramedic in March 1974, holding the EMS number of 0001. Idaho EMS numbers now run in the tens of thousands.

He was a 37-year member of the Idaho Falls Firefighters Union (IAFF Local 1565) and a lifetime supporter who was considered a “permanent fixture” at the annual retirement party.

“Many guys just went to the dinner to talk to RC,” said Union Local President Mark Pitcher. “I never personally had the opportunity to work for Chief Clark, but those that did said he was tough, but he was always great to help out, get you going in the right direction and an absolute joy to work with.”

Clark is survived by his wife, Marva, two sons, Curtis and Bryan, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Work begins on Hitt Road, intersection with Sunnyside

DePatco Inc. is starting work today on Hitt Road and the intersection of Sunnyside and Hitt.

The $2.2 million project involves widening Hitt Road to four lanes, putting a center turn lane half a mile south of the intersection Sunnyside Road, and adding new left-turn and right-turn lanes at each approach to the intersection. There also will be improvements to traffic signals and street lights. Work is expected to be finished in July.

In order to maintain safety, DePatco will reduce traffic to one lane in each direction when necessary and perform construction activities during non-peak traffic hours.

The Idaho Falls Power contractor, Track Utilities, is beginning pole placement work as well. While the majority of the work will occur away from the paved surface, motorists are encouraged to honor construction warning signs and watch for hazards or changes in construction conditions.

The project is being driven by the Sandcreek Commons shopping center, where Cabella's is expected to open this spring. Hobby Lobby, another anchor tenant, and Mountain America Credit Union have received building permits from the Ammon Building Department.

Construction questions can be directed to DePatco at (208) 458-4000 or the city of Idaho Falls Public Works Division at (208) 612-8250