Monday, June 29, 2015

A little bit on the history of Idaho Falls and the Pioneer League

I will be speaking pre-game tomorrow night at Melaleuca Field for five or 10 minutes about baseball in Idaho Falls. This is something I prepared for anyone who is interested.

One of the things that impressed me about Idaho Falls when I first came here 35 years ago this week was the presence of minor league baseball. I was best man in a wedding in which the father of the bride was Gene Bush, president of the Idaho Falls Baseball Club. As part of the fun, the wedding party went to an afternoon Angels game July 3 at McDermott Field. I thought, "How cool is this?" It was a good first impression -- an look where I am now.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ziel-Dingman declares candidacy for I.F. City Council

City Council elections are this November and the first person to announce a candidacy is Michelle Ziel-Dingman, a local business owner and longtime non-profit advocate. Ziel-Dingman put out a press release Wednesday announcing she is running for Seat 1, currently occupied by Sharon Parry.

For the sake of full disclosure, more than five years ago she and I started the band Happyville. It has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my life, and to say that I am fond of her would be an extreme understatement. At a regular news organization I would have to recuse myself from writing about her, but this is my blog and I can write whatever I want.

Currently the CEO of Artcore Visual Studio in Idaho Falls, Ziel-Dingman's past professional experience includes her time as the executive director of Eastern Idaho Technical College Foundation. Before that, she was the marketing director for Snake River Landing/Ball Ventures and Grand Teton Mall (General Growth Properties).

She currently serves as chairwoman of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber Ambassadors and is involved with a variety of non-profit organizations including The Soup Kitchen and the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. She was a key player behind two of the area’s major fund-raisers, The Great Race for Education and Dancing With the Idaho Falls Stars.

Ziel-Dingman has served on the boards of the Art Museum of Eastern Idaho, EITC Foundation, Idaho Falls Advertising Federation and the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce. She has also served on the Mayor's Business Day planning committee, Mayor's Scholarship Committee, and most recently, Idaho's Hometown Hero Medal. Professional honors include the Idaho Aspen Award from the Small Business Development Center and the “Accomplished Under 40” award from the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Her campaign treasurer is Darin Dallimore.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hotel on the Falls restaurant, lounge and convention center being remodeled

Carpet and materials stacked up inside the restaurant at the Hotel on the Falls
After being locked up for close to nine months, there is finally work going on inside the Hotel on the Falls’ restaurant, lounge, banquet spaces and motel rooms.

The chainlink fence came down after property owner Dane Watkins signed a joint operating agreement with Colorado Hospitality Services of Northglenn, Colo., which bought the eight-story, 85-room tower at an auction in January for $2.3 million. Under the agreement, Watkins is leasing the space to Colorado Hospitality owner Bruce Rahmani of Denver, who is charged with remodeling and finding a company to run the restaurant and kitchen.

Event coordinator Tom Williams said they hope to have the motel rooms open by early July. It will probably be October before the restaurant and lounge are open for banquets and conventions, but they are already getting calls about events during the holiday season.

Watkins abruptly closed the restaurant, lounge and motel last August over a dispute with the company managing the facility, Om Shiv Ganesh, which was also managing the tower. The tower had gone into receivership in June when the owner, Idaho Hotel Holdings, filed a default judgment against Om Shiv Ganesh for more than $3.4 million, claiming unpaid mortgage payments and taxes.

Westerra Realty & Management, a Salt Lake company, managed the property until Rahmani bought it Jan. 22. The tower reopened at the end to March. Situated in a prime location by the falls, Williams said the tower has been doing well. It was sold out completely the weekend of the Beer Fest and the following week, when a Little League tournament was held in Idaho Falls.

Known for years as the Westbank, the property dates back to 1928, when Ferris Clark, son of Mayor Barzilla W. Clark, built two log buildings by the Snake River to accommodate motorists on their way to Yellowstone National Park. Over 52 years, Clark expanded with a red brick motel, then a restaurant and lounge, then more motel rooms. He retired in 1980 and died in 1987 at age 79.

After Clark left, the property went by different names, including Red Lion and finally the Hotel on the Falls. Until 2012, it was owned by Jim and Sharon Bennett and Robert and Sharon Paulus, the children of Olga Gustafson Rigby. That year, however, the hotel was deeded to trusts set up by the families while Watkins bought the motel, restaurant, lounge and convention center.

Idaho Falls, Ammon to reconfigure intersection at 25th Street and Hitt Road

The plan for a new signal at Hitt Road and 25th Street
It might be a little soon to think about the holiday season — Christmas is still more than six months away,  at least until Thursday — but here are early tidings of comfort and joy: Getting onto Hitt Road from the Target parking lot is going to be a lot easier by the end of this year.

At a work session Monday, the Idaho Falls City Council approved the reconfiguration of the traffic signal at Hitt and 25th Street, just south of the Ammon Town Center.

The city of Ammon has agreed to build an access road from the shopping center parking lot with left- and right-turn lanes. In effect, the intersection will become what was discussed years ago, a four-way traffic signal far enough from the signal at 17th Street to keep traffic on Hitt flowing in an orderly way.

This is much better than placing a traffic signal at the main entrance into the Target parking lot, said Chris Fredericksen, Idaho Falls Public Works director. “When you have traffic signals spaced too close together, they don’t function property, so we’ve always been reluctant to place a signal there.”

The solution approved Monday is to have a westbound, exit-only lane at 25th and Hitt. The reconfiguration will allow traffic to go straight, turn right and turn left out of the shopping center.

The cost has been estimated at under $200,000, and will be shared 50-50 between Idaho Falls and Ammon, with Ammon paying for the access road from the shopping center.

“This project is yet another joint effort to improve both safety and address traffic flow on Hitt Road,” said Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper. “There is great willingness between the two cities to make the improvements happen in advance of the busy shopping season.”

Since April 2014, council members from each city have been meeting to discuss the intersections at Hitt Road and 17th Street, 25th Street and Sunnyside Road. With Cabela’s open and Hobby Lobby scheduled to open Aug. 3, the Sunnyside intersection and road improvements to the south were the top priority.

But the situation at Target has long been a frustration. “The public has waited long enough for better, safer movement in and out of Ammon Town Center,” said Ammon Mayor Dana Kirkham.

Bank of Idaho plans customer appreciation day for Friday

Bank of Idaho will host a “Customer Appreciation Day” at its downtown Idaho Falls branch, 399 N. Capital Ave., Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A “shred” truck also will be on hand for customers who want to destroy old documents. There will be food from Dickey’s BBQ and a customer give-away.

Founded in Idaho Falls in 1985, Bank of Idaho has branches in Pocatello, St. Anthony, Ashton and Island Park. For more information on Customer Appreciation Day, call 524-5500.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Entrepreneurs' Platform set for Tuesday at EITC

Local Almond Milk, an Idaho Falls company, will be one of the presenters at the Entrepreneurs' Platform at EITC Tuesday.
The Eastern Idaho Entrepreneurial Center (E Center) and Founder’s Forum will be holding its next Entrepreneurs’ Platform Tuesday at Eastern Idaho Technical College.

The Entrepreneurs’ Platform seeks to bring together local entrepreneurs, professionals and community leaders to learn about new businesses and ideas, expand professional networks and help grow the economy. Audience members can support the Platform presenters by offering resources, including expertise, contacts, etc., after their presentations.

Sponsored by the Idaho National Lab and Eastern Idaho Technical College, Tuesday’s Platform, will be held in Room 541 of the the Alexander Creek Building from noon to 1:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Each of the businesses presenting is seeking mentoring and resources to continue to grow. The presenters include:

Landon Walker: Owner of Local Almond Milk, which produces local almond and cashew milk.

Joseph Cammack: Co-founder of ArmsReach, a bedside organizer. This product started at Eastern Idaho’s Start-up Weekend last October.

Coulton Woods and Stephan Larson: Starts of FiXD, which provides insurance for cell phones and tablets.

For further information on the Entrepreneurs’ Platform or the mission of the E Center, contact Megan Luthy at 208.356.5009 or visit www.idahoecenter.org.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Tradehome Shoes plans store in Grand Teton Mall

A Tradehome Shoes store somewhere in America
Tradehome Shoes has filed plans with the Idaho Falls Building Department to put a store in the Grand Teton Mall.

This will be its third store in Idaho. It has one in Twin Falls and another in Boise.

The company was founded in 1921 and is based in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. It currently operates more than 100 stores in 20 states, including two in Idaho, in Boise and Twin Falls. Its stores carry nearly 100 brands from Dr. Martens to Adidas to Johnston & Murphy.

Here are the company’s social media links:


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Idaho Falls liquor store opens in new location

Store 203, now at 385 North Woodruff Avenue
Idaho Falls doesn’t have a new liquor store, just a bigger one in a location with better traffic.
The new state store, at 385 North Woodruff Avenue, between WinCo Foods and Great Clips on Woodruff Avenue, replaces the one at at 2105 Niagara Street.

“I just love the lighting,” said cashier Debbie Peterson, who came over to the new store when it opened Tuesday.

Although beer and wine are sold in grocery and convenience stores in communities where local authorities allow it, hard spirits in Idaho are sold in state-owned stores that are licensed to franchisees. Idaho Falls has three stores and Ammon has one.

The Woodruff Avenue store is managed by Jason Fitch. A move from Niagara had been in the works since the liquor store opened in the Teton Spectrum in Ammon, Peterson said. The space on Woodruff had been vacant for more than a year, ever since the party supply store had moved out.

Hours at Store 203 are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Delta begins flying Airbus jet daily into Idaho Falls

Delta has begun flying an Airbus A320 into Idaho Falls Regional Airport every night.
After nearly 20 years, Delta Air Lines has begun flying big jets back into Idaho Falls Regional Airport.
The seating plan of an A320

Since May, an Airbus A320 has been flying in from Salt Lake City every night at 10:20 and leaving at 8 the next morning. Airport Director Craig Davis said that while the original plan was for a trial period, he has since been told the flights will be permanent.

Delta stopped flying 737s into Idaho Falls in the 1990s, opting instead to have Skywest provide service with Brasilia turbo-props and Canadair regional jets. The Brasilias are long gone, and the CRJs are reaching the limit the Federal Aviation Administration is willing to allow them to remain flying in United States airspace. “(They’re) timing out and being decommissioned, and the big question is what is going to replace them.

With 12 first class seats and 148 seats in the main cabin, the Airbus is a much larger and roomier plane. This is the same jet Frontier was briefly flying between Idaho Falls and Denver in 2014 (a new CEO changed the company's business strategy, and Frontier pulled out of smaller markets). Davis said he does not know whether more big commercial jets will be coming to Idaho Falls, but sees the Delta flight as a positive sign.

On a less celebratory note, he said he does not see fares out of Idaho Falls coming down until Delta and Alaska Air settle the feud they are having over the Salt Lake to Seattle route. At a recent conference he attended, an executive from one of the carriers told him that could take 12 to 18 months.

“Obviously we’d like to have Delta drop its rates,” he said.

Monday, June 15, 2015

What's the status of the Event Center?

The ground at Snake River Landing where the Idaho Falls Auditorium District hopes to build its event center.
In a community where “bond” is considered by many a four-letter word, the people in charge of the Idaho Falls Auditorium District know they have their work cut out for them.

Right now, the district has roughly $4.5 million in the bank, collected from donations and the bed tax local hotels have been paying since voters approved the district’s formation in 2011. In normal real estate terms, that much money might be enough for a down payment on a $35 million facility. But this isn’t a normal real estate deal.

“We didn’t anticipate it would take as long to get anything done,” said Bob Everhart, who directed the campaign to get the auditorium district approved by voters and now sits on the board. As someone who has probably taken more questions about the event center than anyone, he said he hears two main concerns.
  • Will it affect property taxes?
  • Will taxpayers be stuck with a white elephant if it fails financially?
No one’s property taxes will go up, he said. The auditorium district collects enough money to pay off its indebtedness, and revenues from the bed tax have been growing. At the board’s April 8 business meeting it was reported that revenues were up 11 percent over the previous year. Everhart said he expects even more money to be coming in once the Home2 Suites by Hilton at Snake River Landing opens in late summer.

If the auditorium district were to ask voters to approve the issuance of bonds those bonds would be paid off over time not with property taxes but with money collected from the bed tax. Communicating that message would be essential to getting a yes vote. Likewise, if the event center were to fail financially, Idaho Falls taxpayers would not be on the hook. The city has no liability. “The law says an auditorium district cannot fall back on any governmental entity if it fails,” Everhart said.

Dave Lane, the district’s executive director since January, says several things have to be done before ground can be broken. First, the 22-acre parcel at Snake River Landing, which has been donated by Ball Ventures, has to be annexed into the city of Idaho Falls. That matter is coming before the Idaho Falls Planning and Zoning Commission at its meeting Tuesday, June 16.

Dave Lane, the auditorium district's executive director since January.
If the Planning Commission makes a favorable recommendation to the Idaho Falls City Council -- there's no reason to expect it won't -- and the council votes to annex the land, the next issue is road access. The plan calls for one entrance from Event Center Drive, to extend from Snake River Parkway over the Battle Canal. A western entrance will come in from Pioneer Road, which is at the moment two lanes of old, county blacktop winding between Pancheri Drive and Sunnyside Road. It will need to be widened at least, and how the work will be paid for is still being discussed.

Lane said he has had one meeting with the Bonneville County Commission and got the impression that they were eager to help. “My sense is that there aren’t too many people who don’t want the event center,” he said.

As city manager of Blythe, Calif., before he came to Idaho Falls (his children and grandchildren live here), Lane said he has a lot of experience with bonds. “There have been cases where I’ve had to break it down by asking people whether they would be willing to give up two sticks of gum a day to pay for something that would benefit the community, but this doesn’t even involve that,” he said.

As for other sources of funding, there are naming rights options. “There are major businesses in town that would literally like to see their name in lights,” Lane said. Other business owners are simply interested because they think an event center would be good for their business.

Though nothing is final, the district board has had talks with Elmore Sports Group, which runs Melaleuca Field and the Idaho Falls Chukars, about operating the event center. Under such an arrangement, the business would be run by the operator, who would be responsible for the business’ viability.

It has been 20 years since Idaho Falls community leaders first started talking about building a “comprehensive multi-purpose complex in southeastern Idaho.” Those were the words used in 1995 by a group calling itself the Snake River Valley Events Center.

The plan at that time was to build a facility that could host trade shows, rodeos, concerts and sporting events. It was to be on 10.2 acres north of Idaho Falls, on land that H-K Contractors was willing to donate.

Driven by the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce, boosters determined the best way to move forward was to form an auditorium district, legally enabled to collect a “bed tax” of up to 5 percent from people staying at local hotels. The matter would have to be decided in an election by a simple majority. What followed in early 1999 was a public war of words, the opposition led by AmeriTel, a Boise-based hotel chain that argued the tax would hurt its business and drive customers elsewhere. The measure failed, 6,386 voting no to 5,766 voting yes, and the event center backers regrouped.

After nearly 10 years of study, another election was scheduled for May 2011. This time the organizers opted to hold the vote in a much more narrowly defined area — mainly Idaho Falls — and it passed with 63 percent of the voters in favor.
The U.S. Geological Survey HARN marker from 1959

By 2012, board members were talking about breaking ground the next year. The Idaho Falls Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the plat and annexation, but before the matter got to the City Council it hit a snag over a U.S. Geological Survey High Accuracy Reference Network (HARN) marker. Embedded in lava rock in 1959, the marker was the central reference point for survey lines in central Bonneville County, including the lines established to make sure the Gem State Dam wasn’t shifting from where it was built in 1985. USGS rules dictate that it had to be kept clear, which presented a problem as it lay exactly where the entrance to the parking lot was to be located.

One of Lane’s first tasks as executive director was to find the person at USGS who could get the marker moved. He was also aided by the USGS’s adopting Global Positioning System technology, rendering old brass markers obsolete. The matter has been settled, and the reference point has been moved to west of Interstate 15. In fact, the USGS has asked for the marker so it can put it in its museum in Washington, D.C.
The proposed layout for the event center

United Way seeks children's books for summer reading

Starting today at 11 a.m. at Barnes and Noble in the Grand Teton Mall, the United Way of Idaho Falls and Bonneville County is hosting the first-ever United Way Children’s Book Drive.

Summer Learning Loss has been identified as a real problem for lower-income students, according to the U.S. Department of Education. During summer, low-income students regress by more than two months in reading achievement while their middle-class peers make slight gains. It’s a gap that widens for low-income children each year as they progress toward graduation.

According to the Idaho Department of Education, 63 percent of low-income first graders were reading at grade level in the spring of 2013. When they returned in the fall as second graders, only 41 percent were reading at grade level.

The good news? We can do something about it! A large-scale study of elementary students in the Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk revealed that reading four to five books over the summer potentially can prevent a decline in reading achievement scores from the spring to the fall.

Your donations of new or gently used books can help. Simply drop off children’s books at one of our book drop-off locations (listed below). We will make sure your books get into the hands of local kids who really need them.

List of Donation Drop-off Sites

United Way of Idaho Falls and Bonneville County

151 N Ridge Ave #180

Idaho Falls, ID 83402

208) 522-2674

Barnes and Noble (June 15 only)

Grand Teton Mall

2300 E 17th Street Suite #1101

Idaho Falls, ID 83404

(208) 552-1452

Great Harvest Bread Co.

360 A Street

Idaho Falls, ID 83402

(208) 522-7444

1505 E. 17th Street

Idaho Falls, ID 83404

(208) 542-0812

Bank of Idaho

399 N. Capital Avenue

Idaho Falls, ID 83403

(208) 528-3014

1800 Channing Way

Idaho Falls, ID 83403

(208) 528-3044

Apple Athletic Club

2030 Jennie Lee Drive

Idaho Falls, ID 83404

(208) 529-8600

Citizens Community Bank

Taylor Crossing

900 South Utah Avenue

Idaho Falls, ID


2797 South 25th East

Ammon, ID 83406

(208) 239-8720

452 North 2nd East

Rexburg, ID 83440

(208) 356-5377

Snake River Landing Discovery Center
901 Pier View Drive Suite #104 (Next to Kool Beanz Café)

Idaho Falls, ID 83402

(208) 523-3794

Idaho Falls School District 91

690 John Adams Parkway

Idaho Falls, ID 83401

(208) 525-7504

(208) 525-7537

Idaho National Laboratory

Employees can bring books to work to donate


590 East 17th Steet

Idaho Falls, ID 83404

(208) 523-0950

US Bank 

330 Shoup Ave

Idaho Falls, ID 83402

585 1st Street

Idaho Falls, ID 83401

1555 W Broadway
Idaho Falls, ID 83402


1625 Northgate Mile

Idaho Falls, ID

(208) 525-6320

501 W Broadway Street

Idaho Falls, ID

(208) 525-6200

2655 East 17th Street

Idaho Falls, ID

(208) 525-6315

Thursday, June 11, 2015

INL researcher taking part in online "Energy of Star Wars" panel

Vishal Patel of the Idaho National Laboratory's Center for Space Nuclear Research
If you’re eager for the new Star Wars movie but tired of watching the same trailers on YouTube, you are in luck.

As part of Space Week, the Department of Energy is hosting “The Energy of Star Wars: A Google Hangout” on Friday at 2 p.m.

Experts from across the DOE complex, including the Idaho National Laboratory's Vishal Patel, of the Center for Space Nuclear Research, who studies how new forms of nuclear power could fuel tomorrow spacecraft, will be online to answer your questions.

  • How much energy would it take to run a Death Star?
  • What type of energy source could power a lightsaber?
  • Did Mace Windu really have to die?

To frame a question on social media, use the hashtag #StarWarsEnergy. Here are the links:

Or if you want to use e-mail, send your question to newmedia@hq.doe.gov.

In addition to Patel (whose alter ego in the Star Wars universe, according to the Star Wars Name Generator, is Opeseg Eclipseblast, a Jedi Master from Wroona), the panelists include:

Cathy Plesko, an applied physicist from Los Alamos National Laboratory who uses supercomputers to model what happens when an asteroid hits a planet.
(Star Wars alter ego: Azha Cosmosflame, a wandering trader from Riflor.)
Peter Thelin, a master optician from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory whose expertise is cutting and shaping materials by hand so they can be used by Lawrence Livermore researchers to explore the universe.
(Star Wars alter ego: Suhail Statind, a cantina owner from Tarento.)
Chris Ebbers, a physicist from Lawrence Livermore who uses lasers to study crystals.
(Star Wars alter ego: Bohtsan Cosmicburn, a cantina owner from Rian.)

You can watch at energy.gov/starwars or on the Google+ page.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Fall River Electric holding annual meeting Saturday

Fall River Electric Cooperative will be hosting its annual meeting for owner-members this Saturday at North Fremont High School in Ashton.

This is a free event and open to all customers (members). The theme this year is “Your Power + Our Integrity = A Great Cooperative”.

The day starts with a free breakfast at 8 a.m. offering pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns and a choice of beverage. Every member attending will receive a free folding camp chair and carrying bag along with a 20-ounce sport water bottle. Additionally, the first 300 members who visit the energy conservation booth on Saturday will receive two free 60-watt-equivalent LED bulbs with an average life of 25,000 hours.

There will be high-voltage electrical safety demonstrations, conducted by Fall River's linemen, where guests can learn how to avoid the dangers of downed lines and other electrical hazards.

Members will also be able to register for sprizes including: a Husqvarna professional grade chain saw; a Convectair radiant convection electric heater (estimated value: $740); a free home energy audit, which normally sells for $265; a 7-in-1 propane gas smoker with a value of nearly $200; and many more prizes.

Visit the Fall River Propane booth and get a free certificate to fill as many propane cylinders as you want for just $5 each. There’s no need to bring the tanks Saturday, as Fall River Propane will fill cylinders on June 23 and June 25 in Driggs and Ashton.

Fall River Electric's annual business meeting will start at 10:30 a.m. and will include a financial report on the condition of the cooperative, a report on key 2014 activities and future plans, board election results, and an opportunity for members to ask questions during an “open mic” segment.

“Each year we have the opportunity at our annual meeting to give our members an accounting of how we operate their utility, to report on the goals that have been achieved in the past year, and to look ahead at our at exciting future,” said Bryan Case, Fall River’s CEO and general manager. “We hope our members and their families will join us for breakfast and allow us time to get to know them better.”

For anyone interested in the history of the co-op, which started in the 1930s, here is a story from the Teton Valley News that ran in September 2013: Shining light on history of electric service here

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bank of Idaho names new president

Jeff Newgard
The Bank of Idaho board of directors announced this afternoon that Jeff Newgard has been appointed president and CEO effective July 6. He will assume the duties of Park Price, who has served as president and CEO since June 2003. Price will stay on as the Bank of Idaho’s chairman of the board.

Newgard served as president and CEO of Yakima National Bank, Yakima, Wash., from 2005 until the bank was purchased by Seattle-based HomeStreet Bank in October 2013. Until his appointment as president and CEO of Bank of Idaho, he was executive vice president and Eastern Region president of HomeStreet.

He was born in Poulson, Mont., and is married with two children. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Walla Walla College and an MBA from Washington State University. He is also a graduate of the Colorado Graduate School of Banking.

Headquartered in Idaho Falls, Bank of Idaho has served eastern Idaho since 1985. Currently the bank has branch offices in Idaho Falls, Pocatello, St. Anthony, Ashton and Island Park. In addition, the bank has mortgage offices in Idaho Falls, Pocatello and Twin Falls. The Bank of Idaho Trust Department provides trust and investment services for clients throughout southern Idaho.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Printcraft Press plans new facility in Idaho Falls

Printcraft Press is planning to move to a new, larger building in Idaho Falls, west of Interstate 15 and north of Pancheri Drive, in the area known as Happyville.

The platting and annexation of six acres is on the June 16 agenda of the Idaho Falls Planning and Zoning Commission. If the commission votes to recommend annexation and the City Council approves it at a subsequent meeting, Printcraft owner Travis Waters hopes to build a 35,000-square-foot facility. Digging should start in September or October.

Although there are a few seams of lava rock, Waters said his evacuator has assured him it’s fractured lava and shouldn’t be too hard to extract. The lava rock in the area, and the expense of blasting it for development, has been one reason Happyville has remained unincorporated for as long as it has, although the city put sewer lines in around 1980 to alleviate the problems associated with septic fields.

The new Printcraft building will be about 10,000 square feet larger than where the company has been the past 10 years, in the Sunnyside Business Park. The company’s time there was marked by a dispute with Doyle Beck, the business park’s owner, over wastewater treatment, and Waters said he complained to Bonneville County officials that the water pressure from the hydrants was not adequate for fire protection — something that was proven by fire in March at the Waxie Sanitary Supply warehouse. (Waxie has since opened up a new warehouse at 1359 Commerce Way, off St. Leon Road.)

Regardless of that, Waters said he needed more space. “Our business is bursting at the seams,” he said. Printcraft does more than 80 percent of its business in Utah, much of it with medical and pharmaceutical customers. Waters said he has stayed in Idaho Falls because the costs of land and labor are lower.

“We’ve found a pretty nice little niche that we can service from Idaho Falls,” he said.

Honas honored with Silver Circle award by National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences

Karole Honas
The Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored eastern Idaho’s Karole Honas at its June 6 banquet, inducting her into the 2015 Silver Circle.

Along with the EMMY Awards, the chapter provides the region's professionals with seminars, programs, and networking, also serving communities by offering scholarships.

As a co-anchor on Idaho Falls’ Local News 8 for decades, Honas has become a fixture in homes throughout the region. She is one of eight people to share the Silver Circle honor this year.

Here are the words she wrote for the Academy’s web page:

When I was elected Governor of Girls State my senior year of high school, a reporter asked me what I intended to major in when I got to college. I told her I had no idea, and she decided that didn't sound very mature, so she suggested I say “communications.” The rest is history.

I graduated from the University of Idaho in 1977. I married my college boyfriend, Ken, on July 2 and began working for a new station in eastern Idaho two weeks later. I spent seven years at KPVI Ch 6 in Pocatello. When I started, we were on 16 mm film. The film processor was located in an old barn south of town, so every day at 3 pm we raced to the barn to drop the film off, raced back to the office to write our story and cut the audio on cassettes, back to the barn to pick up the film and back to the office to edit. I still take pride in the fact I could change a film magazine in a black bag while driving the news car.

God blessed us with three boys in the 1980's and I spent that decade learning to be a mother. In 1990 I got a call from my now long-time anchor partner Jay Hildebrandt. He said they were desperate for a fill-in female anchor. His co-anchor went into labor early and had a baby. Would I fill in for a couple months? I did, and never left. Jay and I have shared the anchor set for 25 years at KIFI Local News 8.

Because we are a small market station, our employees are usually graduates just out of school. In the beginning, they were my age, my peers. Then I got a little older and became more of a trainer. Then I got older and became a coach. One day a new rookie came in with her parents to start her first job, and I realized the “parent” was younger than me!

That's when I became a “mom” in the newsroom.

My “kids” have graduated to big markets all over the United States: Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Atlanta, Portland and Seattle. They are such fine journalists, and I take great pride in the fact I may have started them off on the right foot.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen celebrates of 'free lunch'

The Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen will celebrate 30 years of with a June 30 open house. 
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
— Matthew 13:31-32

If you took all the meals the Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen has served in the past 30 years and put them all together, you would have enough food for the entire population of Columbus, Ohio, the 15th largest city in the United States.

Originally known as St. Mark’s Christian Sandwich Kitchen, the idea for the a soup kitchen came into being when two members of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Joanne Galbraith and Lois Greenwood, of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church were driving home from a hunger conference in Boise, discussing what they could do to alleviate hunger in the community. They started in the church basement with a coffee pot and hotplate and a $500 loan from Idaho’s Episcopal Bishop, The Rev. David B. Birney. Church members and friends pitched in to help, and before long the word was out that a person could get a free lunch on South Boulevard.

In the first 18 months, 1,805 meals were served, on weekends. Today, in the Community Outreach Center, next door to where St. Mark’s was, the Soup Kitchen is open every day, serving an average of 4,700 per month.

In all, between June 1985 and May 2015, the official count of total meals served was 826,526.
“One thing we have never done is ask people questions about why they were there,” said Graeme Galbraith, another early volunteer. “There were people who were there out of necessity, and there were some people who made a social occasion of it,”  he said. “It has been a total volunteer effort since the beginning.”

Support from the community has been broad, and sometimes surprising. Galbraith said there was a couple that ate at the Soup Kitchen frequently for a few months (he could not remember their name) then made a generous donation once they were back on their feet.

The average cost of a meal served at the Soup Kitchen is $1. There are trained teams of volunteers for every day of the year, and about 800 people help at the Soup Kitchen each year.

It takes between $60,000 to $65,000 a year to keep the Soup Kitchen in operation.  About 20 percent of the lunches it serves comes from donations of food from individuals, food drives, companies and organizations in the community. About 5 percent is Federal Emergency Management Agency commodities distributed by the Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership. The rest, approximately $45,000, is purchased with the cash contributions from individuals, churches, businesses and service organizations.

The Soup Kitchen facility is provided by the Community Outreach Center at no cost, but it takes money to buy cleaning, equipment, maintenance services, phones and insurance.

“Some of our local businesses have gone above and beyond to help out,” said Kaaren Parsons, who coordinates the ministry for St. Luke’s Episcopal Chuch (St. Mark’s and St. John’s merged to form St. Luke’s in 2001). Parsons wished to extend special recognition to Doug’s Meats, Rush’s Kitchen Supply, Brady’s, Smith’s, Mathew’s Plumbing, Sunrise Cleaning and Mike Beckstead.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Local personality laid low by meningitis, needs help

The screenshot from GoFundMe.com.
I want to call your attention to something I saw on Facebook last night about Dusty Johns, aka Dusty Bee, a well known person in the community who has been laid low quite unexpectedly and could use your help.

Dusty has raised thousands of dollars to fight cancer, and even rode a ferris wheel for 12 straight hours to raise money for the domestic violence intervention shelter. He is an outgoing and ebullient character -- or at least he was.

In mid-May, he started leaking spinal fluid from his sinuses and was admitted to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. From there they transported him to University of Utah, where went into the ICU, then had a five-hour operation. Despite the doctors' best efforts, he developed spinal meningitis and is still in the hospital, with no clear answer as to when he will be able to return.

Dusty has two little boys that depend on him. He is the marketing director for Tobin Cleaning and Restoration, and for Comfort Care Dental. I am assuming he has health insurance, but as anyone who has had experience with a serious illness or injury knows, that only does so much. Meeting the deductible and out-of-pocket caps can be a huge financial strain, and then there are all the things that insurance doesn’t even cover.

I’m posting the GoFundMe link here -- Dusty Bee's Medical Fund -- in hopes that you might be able to help. As I’m looking at the page right now the total is $1,315. He's going to need a lot more.