Friday, May 29, 2015

Free movie night tonight at Tautphaus

Movies in the Park starts tonight.
Summer is still a few weeks away, but now that Memorial Day is over we’re starting to see the signs: First, Alive After 5 started on Wednesday. Tonight, Idaho Falls Parks & Recreation is launching its Movies in the Park with Disney’s "Planes – Fire & Rescue" starting at Tautphaus Park at dusk. Bring your camp chairs, blankets, flashlights and snacks.

Bill’s Bike & Run will be giving a free bike away at every movie. They will also run a complimentary bike valet for anyone riding their bikes to the event.

From now until September, Movies in the Park will be held the last Friday of the month at various Idaho Falls parks. Click HERE to see a complete schedule and more information. Movies in the Park is sponsored by Teton Toyota, Bill’s Bike & Run, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, Westmark Credit Union and Riverbend Communications.

Tomorrow morning the 2015 Adventure Ride and Scavenger Hunt will start at 10 at the Snake River Landing pier. Riders will be challenged to ride to eight different locations throughout downtown Idaho Falls, Snake River Landing and along the Greenbelt. The challenge will be to visit all locations within a two-hour time period. At each location, participants will receive a raffle ticket. For those finishing the challenge by noon, the raffle tickets can be entered into a prize drawing for prizes, including three bikes. The event is sponsored by Dave’s Bike Shop, Idaho Mountain Trading, BMPO (Bonneville Metropolitan Planning Organization), Bill’s Bike & Run and Idaho Falls Parks & Recreation.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

ULTA Beauty plans grand opening this weekend

ULTA Beauty will open the doors of its new Ammon store Friday morning at 10. In celebration of its grand opening, the first 100 guests on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will receive a “beauty treat” valued $5 to $100 and one free skin or hair service at The Salon, ULTA Beauty’s full-service salon. Beauty experts will be on hand all weekend to offer free makeovers and consultations.

The new 10,344-square foot store location at Ammon Town Center will feature 20,000 beauty products across 500 brands, as well as a full-service salon.

ULTA Beauty is the largest beauty retailer in the United States, with 774 retail stores across 47 states. The company says its aim is to provide one-stop shopping for prestige, mass and salon products and salon services. Online and in retail outlets, the Illinois-based chain sells cosmetics, fragrance, haircare, skincare, bath and body products and salon styling tools.

Its store format includes a 950-square-foot salon area with eight to ten stations. The whole salon has a concierge desk, skin treatment room, and semi-private shampoo and hair color processing areas. ULTA Beauty also has Benefit Brow Bars in select stores nationwide, offering such services as brow arching, brow tinting, facial waxing and eyelash application.

The company was founded in 1990 by Richard E. George, former president of Osco Drug, Inc. The Ammon store is the second in Idaho.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Work starts on 15-unit retail center at Sandcreek Commons

The crew at work Monday on the new strip mall at Sandcreek Commons.
Work started Friday on the footings and foundation of a 15-unit shopping center at Sandcreek Commons, east of the D.L. Evans Bank and north of where Hobby Lobby and Broulim's are being built. For the moment, the project goes by the prosaic name of Retail A. Altogether, it will have 18,639 square feet of retail space, according to the Plans at the city of Ammon Building Department. No announcements have been made about possible tenants, but given the level of interest and activity at the Ball Ventures-Woodbury Corp. it would be extremely surprising if there weren't at least a few tenants before the end of the year.
The plans at the Ammon Building Department office.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Dad's BBQ owners eye June 1 opening

The new owners of what was Bubba’s on First Street are actually the people who have owned the property all along, Sid Fugate and his daughter, Jeni Baker. Remodeling at the moment, they are hoping to have the restaurant open June 1 as Dad’s.

Baker confirmed that they and the owners of Bubba’s, Brian and Casey Miller, couldn’t agree about a lease, which led to the restaurant closing at the end of April. She said the Millers’ wanted a lease reduction that she and her father couldn’t accept. Without going into details, she said there have been other issues, and they could end up in small claims court.

The cleanup since the restaurant closed has been extensive. “There was an inch-and-a-half of grease on the floor outside the kitchen,” she said. “It took us four days to clean up.”

Once open, they are hopeful about getting some of the old clientele back. Tom Murdock will be coming back as cook. They are hiring wait staff now and are around all day to accept resumes and applications.

Here’s some history for those of you who are interested. The log building was originally the Rib Cage. Bubba’s, an institution in Jackson, Wyo., first opened an Idaho Falls restaurant on 17th Street, then moved to First Street in 1998.

Jim “Bubba” Shivler has nothing to do with the Bubba’s in Jackson and hasn’t for years, but will remain a legend if only for running a place where the manager ticked off Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife at the time, Maria Shriver.

In a story that went viral before anyone was using the term "viral," Manager Linda Heibel told the Jackson Hole News the pair showed up at the restaurant on a busy summer evening. Shriver approached Heibel, introduced herself and asked for a table. Heibel, thrilled to meet the two, said she would put their names on the list and call them when their table was ready.

“‘You don’t understand – we don’t stand in line,’” Shriver reportedly said.

“‘You don’t understand,’” Heibel told Shriver. “‘When Bubba’s here, he waits in line. When his folks are here, they wait in line. He would probably fire me if I seated you like that.’” The two left in a huff and had harsh words for Bubba’s at the airport when their vacation ended.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Idaho Falls Bubba's gone; Dad's Barbecue coming

Closed since April, the old Bubba's will be reopening under a new name.
There’s a sign in front of the old Bubba’s on First Street that says Dad’s Barbecue is coming soon. While we run down that information, here's what we've been able to learn about Bubba's.

Brian Miller, who owned the business with his wife, Casey, said they closed the restaurant after the lease expired April 30. They had tried to negotiate a lower payment with the landlord, but couldn’t reach an agreement, he said. The two live in Washington, D.C., and were having someone run the restaurant for them.

Bubba’s had been in the log building at the corner of First Street and Northgate Mile since 1998. It was damaged in a fire in 2002.

Casey Miller is the daughter of Jim “Bubba” Shiver, who opened the original Bubba’s in Jackson, Wyo. In addition to the restaurant there, there is another Bubba’s in Cody, Wyo.

Miller said they wanted a lower lease payment because they had seen diminished traffic on Northgate Mile and a shift toward 17th Street. “It’s sad, but we really didn’t have any choice other than to pull out,” he said.

Idaho Falls Power recognized by Public Power Association

Here's an old photo of Idaho Falls Power's Gem State Dam, built in the mid-1980s. The bond that financed that project are being retired this year. 
Idaho Falls Power has been named a Reliable Public Power Provider by the American Public Power Association, and is one of 54 publicly owned utilities to receive the RP3 Diamond designation.

Kenneth Stone, energy services and accounting manager at Braintree Electric Light Department of Braintree, Mass., and executive committee member of APPA’s RP3 Review Panel, presented the awards May 18 during the association’s annual Engineering and Operations Technical Conference, held in Sacramento, Calif.

The RP3 designation recognizes public power utilities that demonstrate proficiency in four key disciplines: reliability, safety, workforce development and system improvement. The designation lasts for three years.

Idaho Falls Power was one of the four Bonneville Power Administration customers awarded the diamond designation and the only Utah Association Municipal Power Systems member to receive it.

“The RP3 review process is very rigorous,” said Jackie Flowers, Idaho Falls Power’s general manager. “The staff at Idaho Falls Power has put in a lot of hard work to serve our community. RP3 represents a much appreciated recognition of this hard work,” she said.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Former Post Register staffer honored

Rachel Cook
Congratulations to Rachel Cook, a former Post Register staff writer honored for a story she wrote for the Bakersfield Californian.

Cook's July 2014 story, "Dental Dangers," on dental licensing and review in California, won the George F. Gruner Prize for Meritorious Journalism May 12 in Fresno. Cook was health reporter for the Californian at the time. Her story focused on Dr. Robert Tupac, whose license was revoked by the state Dental Board and who killed himself the day after he learned of the decision.

Cook is a graduate of Skyline High School and is now an editor at the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rumination on drought and my utility bill

While I was paying my utility bill this morning (late as usual), I was amazed once again by how little we pay for water in Idaho Falls: $21 for an unlimited amount.

Given all that we have been hearing about the drought in California and the fines that are being proposed for overwatering lawns there, I did some research and learned that in San Diego, $21 will by you roughly 8.4 hours in the shower, 16.8 hours if you are using a low-flow shower head.

The typical single-family domestic customer has a 3/4-inch meter (some larger homes may have a 1-inch meter) and the total bill is a combination of the monthly meter base fee (which is based on the size of the meter) and the amount of water used.

For billing purposes, the Public Utilities Department measures water used by hundred cubic feet or HCF. Each HCF equals 748.05 gallons.

The bi-monthly charges for a typical single-family domestic customer are:
Base fee: $40.62
0 - 8 HCF used are billed at $3.896 per HCF.
9 - 24 HCF used are billed at $4.364 per HCF.
25 - 36 HCF used are billed at $6.234 per HCF.
Each HCF used after the initial 36 HCF is billed at $8.766 per HCF.

This is where it saves you money to have a low flow shower. If your house was built before 1980, the average flow per minute is 5 to 7 gallons per minute. Between 1981 and 1991 it’s 3.5 and after 1992 it’s 2.5 gpm.

Replacing old shower heads with new ones can save you as much as 750 gallons per month.
Do we care here in Idaho Falls? I could water my lawn all night, take half-hour showers three times a day and still pay $21 a month. Not that I would, or that many other people do.

Even though we live in a desert, our forebears had the presence of mind to build our city on top of an aquifer. The first well was dug in 1924, and there are more than two dozen now.

Friday, May 15, 2015

City plans meeting Wednesday to discuss new downtown fire station

The Idaho Falls Fire Department will hold an open house Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 680 Park Avenue, to discuss plans for a new downtown fire station.

The main purpose of the open house is to invite contractors to learn about the new process and to help them make sure they have the proper licensing before the project goes out for bid at the end of June, Fire Chief Dave Hanneman said.

The project's timeline will be discussed. Fire department staff and the architects will be available for questions.

In April 2015, Idaho Falls City Council unanimously approved a $163,000 contract with the CRSA architectural firm to design a new fire station to replace downtown Fire Station 1, which is on the lower level of Idaho Falls' 85-year old City Building.

The new station is to be located on existing city-owned property on E Street between Shoup and Park Avenues.

The State of Idaho requires  construction managers be licensed. This is to assure the public they have the level of education and experience required for successful management of public construction projects.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cabela's opening draws huge crowd

Here's the line this morning at the new Cabela's store in Ammon.  This was shot by David Snell, not me, and shared on Facebook. We will be checking later to find out what the attendance actually turned out to be.

EIRMC, Madison Memorial receive top scores in safety survey

Eastern Idaho Regional first opened in 1986.
Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls and Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg have received “A” ratings in the bi-annual Hospital Safety Score published by The Leapfrog Group. The designation recognizes exceptional performance in consistently meeting evidence-based patient safety guidelines. Overall, three hospitals in Idaho received the top rating.

The Hospital Safety Score compiles 26 measures of publicly available hospital safety data into a single “grade.” That score represents any hospital’s overall capacity to keep patients safe from infections and injuries as well as medical and medication errors.

To see the hospitals’ scores as they compare nationally and locally, visit the Hospital Safety Score website at

The Leapfrog Group ( is a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving safety, quality and affordability of health care. It was founded in November 2000 with support from the Business Roundtable and is now independently operated with support from its purchaser and other members.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cool Beanz holds grand opening at Snake River Landing

Shane Murphy, owner of Cool Beanz and Java Express
Cool Beanz had its official opening today at Snake River Landing, but owner Shane Murphy is no stranger to serving coffee.

As owner of Java Express for 23 years, Murphy has had a lot of time to think about a sit-down coffee shop. Over the past five years, he has talked with Eric Isom, Snake River Landing's chief operating officer, about locating there.

Two things brought about the coming of Cool Beanz. One was the closing of Bella Vita, the shop where Cool Beanz now is. The other was the lease that McAfee Security Systems signed, bringing 120 people into the building across Pier View Drive.

"I thought if we could service them it might so real well," Murphy said.
He was tempted to name the shop Java Express, but didn't want to create confusion among the coffee kiosk's devoted following.

Once the deal was in place, Murphy set to remodeling. "We pretty much took it down to scratch and rebuilt it," he said.

With the look there is a new menu, featuring Java Express coffee and tea, smoothies, desserts, panninis, bagel breakfast sandwiches, craft beers and wines.

Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Murphy said he is bullish on Snake River Landing's prospects, especially with the Home2 By Hilton hotel due to open in late summer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Gasoline prices rise, but still near five-year low

You undoubtedly noticed that gasoline prices have rebounded  from their lows of late winter, a time I actually gassed up my Subaru for less than $20 and the first time it happened since I can't remember who was president.

According to an AAA report released Monday, the national average price of gas has increased for 26 of the previous 27 days to $2.66 per gallon, which is the highest average of the year. Drivers are paying about four cents more per gallon than one week ago and 27 cents more per gallon than one month ago.

Today’s national average is about a dollar less than a year ago and is at the cheapest level for this date since 2009.

AAA predicts that automotive travel this Memorial Day holiday will be up 5.3 percent (33 million travelers) compared to last year’s holiday weekend, which would be the highest volume in ten years. Gas prices may not change all that much by the holiday weekend, which would result in the cheapest Memorial Day gas prices in at least five years.

Regional refinery issues on the West Coast continue to push prices higher in a handful of states, with the majority of the nation’s most expensive markets located in the region. California ($3.72) is the nation’s most expensive retail gasoline market, and is joined by four other states posting averages of $3 or more per gallon: Hawaii ($3.23), Nevada ($3.22), Alaska ($3.15) and Oregon ($3.00). The price at the pump is above $2.50 per gallon in 36 states and Washington, D.C. On the other end of the spectrum, motorists in South Carolina ($2.37), Missouri ($2.39) and Mississippi ($2.40) are the paying the lowest averages at the pump, although they too have seen prices inch upward since last week’s report.

Drivers in 49 states and Washington, D.C. are paying more to refuel their vehicles versus one week ago. Twenty-two states are paying a nickel or more per gallon, led by Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota with week-over-week increases of nine cents per gallon. The only state to buck this trend is Michigan, where the average price fell by six cents per gallon over this same period.

Month-over-month, the price has moved higher in every state and Washington, D.C. by a dime or more per gallon.  Pump prices are up by a quarter or more in 22 states, with the largest monthly increases taking place in the western United States. Consumers in California (+61 cents), Nevada (+44 cents), Utah (+39 cents) and Arizona (+39 cents) have seen the largest increases over this period, due largely to the refinery issues in the region.

Although motorists nationwide continue to pay significantly lower gas prices, rising averages are beginning to erode savings in a number of states.  Prices are lower by a dollar or more in 30 states and Washington, D.C. year-over-year, which is 11 states fewer than one week ago. Consumers in Ohio (-$1.23), Michigan (-$1.18) and Kentucky (-$1.15) are saving the most per gallon compared to this same date last year.

The price of crude has moved higher since the middle of March due to slowing U.S. production, a weakening U.S. dollar and speculation of demand growth from China. Despite the price increase, many market watchers believe that the recent rally may be nearing an end due to oversupply continuing to characterize the global market, effectively putting a ceiling on how high the price can go. The global oil cartel OPEC appears to be maintaining its strategy of high production levels and is scheduled to convene in June to reassess supply quotas, but in the meantime all eyes remain on U.S. production levels based on its new position as swing producer.

The domestic benchmark WTI posted a weekly gain for the seventh consecutive week but remains significantly below the 2014 high of $107.95 per barrel. At the close of formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI settled 45 cents higher at $59.39 per barrel.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

VanderSloot represents Idaho on list of nation's wealthiest

Every year, Wealth-X, a Web site that reports on the rich, releases a list of the wealthiest person in every state.

The list is mostly made up of multi-billionaires, including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Larry Ellison. Idaho’s own Frank VanderSloot, the Melaleuca magnate, comes in at No. 40, with an estimated worth of $1.2 billion.

There are nine states with no billionaire residents, including Utah, New Mexico, Mississippi, South Dakota, Maine, Hawaii, Alaska, Wyoming and my home state of Delaware. This last one I find surprising, as it is the home of the DuPonts, one of the nation’s oldest and richest families. The only explanation I can think of is that the story is focused on individual wealth.

You can read more at this link: Read more: The Richest Person in Every State.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

7N Ranch plans grand opening for new bike park

One of the jumps at the 7N Ranch's new bike park.
7N Ranch near Heise has installed a bike park, with tracks, jumps, bumps for people of all levels and technical abilities.

To mark the occasion, they will having a grand opening on Memorial Day weekend, May 23 to May 25, featuring half-price passes. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., individual day passes will be $5 and family passes will be $12.50.

The park features a flow track, jumps, pump track, cross-country, downhill track, free ride track and a bump run. The weekend will also feature a bike expo, with exhibitors and food.

Anyone looking to buy tickets or find out more can visit the 7N Ranch Facebook page, right here:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Kool Beanz, Noodles and Company now open

Kool Beanz at Snake River Landing.
This past week has seen two new additions on the food and beverage front in Idaho Falls.

Noodles & Company opened Monday at The Grand Teton Mall, at 1870 S. 25th East. The company has more than 450 restaurant locations across the United States, serving 25 fresh dishes. For a look at the menu, follow this link.

The 2,800-square-foot Grand Teton facility offers seating for 72 guests inside the dining room and 20 guests on the outside patio. The restaurant is open from 10:20 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. To place a take-out order, call (208) 528-7366 or order online at

At Snake River Landing, Kool Beanz has opened where Bella Vita used to be. There is a new look and a new menu, featuring gourmet coffee, teas, smoothies, desserts, artisan panninis, bagel breakfast sandwiches, craft beers and fine wines.

Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Visit their Facebook page here:
Noodles and Company on Hitt Road

Monday, May 4, 2015

Ron Sayer plans school fund-raiser

Ron Sayer’s Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge is planning to team up May 18 with parents and teachers at American Heritage Charter School for a “Drive for the Kids” fund-raiser, to help raise money in support of the school’s activities.

During the school’s spring concert, parents and guests will have the opportunity to earn a $10 contribution for the school from the Chrysler brand by taking a test drive in a new 2015 Town & Country, Chrysler 200 or Chrysler 300. Any licensed driver, age 18 or older, may drive and earn $10 on the school’s behalf. Ron Sayer will provide 2015 model Chrysler brand vehicles, along with volunteers from the dealership, to help the school with the test drives.

This is the seventh year Ron Sayer has been doing “Drive for the Kids” at Idaho Falls area schools, raising more than $30,000 overall.

All test-drive participants will also be entered into the 2015 National Giveaway for a chance to win $45,000 toward any eligible FCA US LLC Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, Ram, FIAT, or Alfa Romeo vehicle.

Chrysler introduced the “Drive for the Kids” program in 1993, becoming the first automotive manufacturer to reach out in direct support of local schools. Since then, Chrysler dealers have worked with parents and educators across the nation to contribute over $6 million to schools in communities where Chrysler does business. For more information, visit

Friday, May 1, 2015

INL picks two teams for DOE commercialization program

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., is working with six national labs, including INL, identifying innovative technologies with potential for commercialization.
Idaho National Laboratory has selected two teams to participate this year in the Department of Energy’s Lab-Corps Program.

Last fall, DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy selected proposals from six national labs, including INL, for a $2.3 million pilot program called Lab-Corps, which is designed to accelerate the commercialization of clean energy technologies.

“Our program is designed to immerse each three-person team in an approach to learn about successfully commercializing their discoveries to the private sector,” said INL Lab-Corps leader Tammie Borders, in a press release this week.

INL reviewed several technologies for the Lab-Corps program that promise advancements in sustainable transportation, renewable power and energy efficiency lab technologies. The winners were Matthew Balderree, who's technology is an application that facilitates material inspection of wind turbine blades using unmanned aircraft, and Brant Peery, who developed technology that compiles data from databases in different formats and presents it in a user-friendly way.

“DOE’s Lab-Corps program offers a new pathway to advance greater collaboration between industry and national laboratories,” said INL Associate Laboratory Director Steven Aumeier. Modeled closely after the National Science Foundation's I-Corps program, Lab-Corps is managed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and seeks to strengthen the impact national laboratories have on the nation's energy resources. The technology accelerator and training curriculum enables lab-based teams to gain direct market feedback on their technologies and pursue commercialization opportunities.

“Each team has an INL researcher, an entrepreneurial lead and an industry mentor,” Borders said. “The entrepreneurial lead and the industry mentor are selected from talented business leaders who work outside of INL in order to offer a fresh perspective for the team.”

INL’s pilot program capitalizes on previous work with the Idaho Technology Council, Boise State University and Renewable Technology Ventures. These groups have assisted in identifying potential entrepreneurial leads and industry mentors for the teams.

During the seven-week training provided by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, each team will visit companies in the appropriate market sectors and meet face-to-face with customers. “We are expecting highly energetic teams who will hone their new entrepreneurial talents and gain exceptional insight into commercializing innovative technologies in the private sector,” Borders said.

Energy Department Announces New Lab Program to Accelerate Commercialization of Clean Energy Technologies