Friday, October 30, 2015

Advanced Test Reactor modifications receive recognition

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

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

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

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

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

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

EIRMC starts advice line

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tai Pan Trading says it's coming to Idaho Falls

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 26, 2015

Chamber announces Business of Distinction winners

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

Area companies being recognized are as follows:

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bakery opening in Shane Building

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fall River Electric schedules meetings over proposed rate increases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 17, 2015

New restaurant opening in Captain’s Cove location

Josh Swain is planning a soft opening this Wednesday for his newest restaurant, Abracadabra’s. It will be at 2040 Channing Way, the former location of Captain’s Cove and, before that, Buddy’s and Fanatics.

Swain is a founder of Stockman’s, which moved a few years ago from County Line Road to Snake River Landing. He grew up in the business at Swain Brothers Restaurant in Vernal, Utah, and has a fundamentals approach to the business. “I let my food be the lead,” he said. “High quality ingredients at affordable prices.”

Abracadabra’s (“Where food is magic”) will have a breakfast-and-brunch bistro style menu, with entrees like breakfast reuben and chicken waffles.

The kitchen staff is in place, but Swain said they are still looking for servers. Anyone interested can call 208-881-9024, or email a resume to

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Breast cancer awareness benefit set Oct. 23

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Rex & Tiffany Redden Foundation is hosting its second Tapas for Tatas dinner Oct. 23 at the Keefer’s Island Convention Center in Idaho Falls. Last year’s event raised more than $10,000 to aid breast cancer research and to help raise awareness through education and screenings.

Survivors of all forms of cancer are invited to attend and be honored in the  survivor presentation. In addition to the presentation, there will be a raffle drawing, music and a raffle, music, a Survivor Presentation, and a talk from Tiffany Redden, who was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in November 2013. This aggressive form of cancer had advanced to stage 3 and metastasized to her lymph nodes.

The same time she started chemotherapy, she and her husband, Rex, formed their foundation with the purpose of educating other women and men about the necessity of breast self-exams. “If I had listened to my doctor and was performing the monthly self-exams as recommended, I may have caught my cancer earlier,” she said. “I could not let another day go by without doing my part to educate others about the benefits of early-detection.”

Pre-registration is required at Photos and names of survivors to be honored at the event can be emailed to

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Dixie's Diner to celebrate 10th anniversary

Dixie's Diner on Channing Way
Dixie’s Diner will be celebrating its 10th anniversary on Saturday with throwback pricing, including $5 hamburgers and $2 milkshakes. The waitresses will be dressing up '50s style, and of course the music will be what it always is, oldies from the jukebox.

Dixie’s, at 2150 Channing Way, started in 2005 as the 5 & Diner, with the tagline “Food, Fun and Fifties.” The arrangement with the franchising company in Arizona remained in effect until July 2008, when owner Dixie Murphy and her operating business partner Tom Hersh decided they could just as easily operate on their own.

While the food and themed atmosphere have obviously been a hit, Dixie’s has also been an example of corporate citizenship. The meeting room is available to groups as diverse as the East Side Rotary, Idaho Falls Advertising Federation and Alcoholics Anonymous. In the 10 years the diner has been open Dixie’s has donated through fund-raising nights more than $15,000 to local schools, athletic teams, churches and the Tautphaus Park Zoological Society. Hersh has served for more than 13 years on the Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation Commission and the golf advisory board.

“I am am proud of being a local owner of a successful restaurant,” he said.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ammon convenience store offer post office services

Jarom Christensen at Hitt-the-Road, now a U.S. Postal Service contractor.
When you consider that Swan Valley and Irwin each have their own post offices but Ammon, a city of more than 14,500 doesn’t, it sort of makes you wonder how these decisions are made.

The good news, however, is that the Hitt-the-Road convenience store at the northeast corner of Sunnyside and Hitt roads is now an official U.S. Postal Service station where you can mail all your Christmas cards and holiday parcels. This fills a hole left by the closing of CD World, which had a very busy postal station.

In fact, once Jarom Christensen, who owns the store, learned he would getting the business he hired Rachel Barr and Anthony Chabis, the two people who used to take care of the USPS business at CD World. “They know exactly what they’re doing, so we were able to hit the ground running,” he said.

Christensen, whose company is called Voyager Enterprises, said the Postal Service approached him and other businesses in the area in 2014 after CD World closed. He had to submit his financials and undergo a security check, and the entire process took about nine months.

“We worked really hard to get it,” Christensen said. “I think we’re going to do a lot of volume here. They told us that CD World had the highest volume of any contractor in Utah or Idaho.”

The advantages to having a post office in the store are obvious. Convenience stores’ business depends not on gas sales but the sales of soda and snacks. If people are coming in to mail a letter or package, there’s a pretty good chance they might want a Slim Jim or a Pepsi.

“Everything here is an impulse purchase,” Christensen said.

Monday, October 12, 2015

I.F. attorney to speak to Advertising Federation

Sean Coletti
The guest speaker at this month’s Idaho Falls Advertising Federation “Lunch & Learn” will be Sean J. Coletti, from the Hopkins, Roden, Crockett, Hansen & Hoopes law firm.

"Keeping it legal - Make sure your advertising message doesn't get you in hot water," will focus on issues surrounding advertising and social media.

The event will be at Dixie’s Diner in the meeting room at noon. Cost (which includes lunch) is $12 for Ad Fed members, and $15 for non-members.

Coletti, is a native of Utah and Idaho and graduated from Rigby High School in 1995. He attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University where he received a bachelor’s degree in political science, then earned his law degree in 2005 from the University of Connecticut School of Law. During law school, he served as executive editor of the Connecticut Law Review, where his article, “Taking Account of Partial Exemptors in Vaccination Law, Policy and Practice” was published in 2004.

He is currently serving his second four-year term on the Ammon City Council, a position to which he was first elected in 2009. He also volunteers as an attorney in the Court Appointed Special Advocate program and for the Idaho State Bar, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Idaho Health Facilities Authority.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Post Register to be sold to Minneapolis-based company

The Post Co. of Idaho Falls announced Wednesday that it is being bought by Adams Publishing Group, a media chain based in St. Louis Park, Minn., and owned by a billionaire investor with interests in billboards, wine, banks and recreational vehicles.

The sale will include the Post Register as well as three weekly newspapers: the Shelley Pioneer, Jefferson Star and Challis Messenger. It is expected to be finalized Nov. 1. A sale price was not disclosed.

Adams Publishing owns dozens of newspapers, shoppers and magazines in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maryland and Ohio. The acquisition of the Post Register represents a continuation of an expansion into the West, as the company recently bought four newspapers in Wyoming, in Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins and Rock Springs. The Adams family also owns radio stations, an outdoor advertising company and Camping World/Good Sam, which opened a location in Idaho Falls earlier this year.

For more information about the company's chairman, Stephen Adams, follow this link from the Stanford GSB Experience of Feb. 1, 2006: Stephen Adams Honored with 2006 Arbuckle Award.

The sale marks the end of 90-plus years of ownership by the Brady family. Company President Jerry Brady, 79, told employees this summer he felt he had nothing more to add to the company. Although the decision was difficult, he was convinced selling the company was the right thing to do, he said.

Brady and his brother, Jack, own about two-thirds of the company. The remaining is owned by employees (and ex-employees, including me) through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

“We think we’ve found the best deal out there,” Brady wrote in a July letter to employees. “It would provide enough money to retire all debts, allowing us to go forward debt-free and to make a distribution to (employee) owners.”

“We’re very excited to have the Post Register Company’s group of newspapers and digital products join our company going forward,” Stephen Adams said in a statement. “The Brady family has a long history of providing strong journalism in the state of Idaho. It’s our goal to continue their tradition of locally focused, community-driven editorial and reporting.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

New sales manager named for Home2Suites in Idaho Falls

Kiersten Landers
Home2Suites by Hilton, owned and operated by B&T Hospitality Management, has named Kiersten Sedlmayr Landers as the Idaho Falls hotel’s new sales manager.

With a degree in business management and entrepreneurship from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Landers has more than 10 years of corporate sales experience, six of them in Idaho Falls with such companies as Sand Hill Media and Signature Party Rental.

B&T General Manager Megan Dodd cited Landers’ reputation, experience, love of business and desire to build lasting relationships as the reasons why she was put in charge of sales for the extended-stay hotel at Snake River Landing, which opened in September. As sales manager, Landers will be responsible for revenue growth, marketing efforts and community outreach.

The new hotel offers easy access to technology and community spaces, as well as the trademark Home2 Suites amenities, such as a business center with free Internet; indoor saline swimming pool; combined laundry and fitness area; and complimentary continental breakfast. It also features outdoor living areas with grills and a fire pit for guests’ use. All Home2 Suites properties are also pet-friendly.

Monday, October 5, 2015

New gallery open in downtown Idaho Falls

Artist Marko Marino at his new gallery.
Idaho Falls’ downtown district has a new showcase for art, the Marko Marino Studio Gallery, across Park Avenue from the Celt Pub.

Artist Mark Marino, known as Marko to his friends, arrived in Idaho Falls in January 2014 and has been busy ever since. He has already had three one-man shows, the first at the Republic American Grill in November 2014, where he presented a large body of oil and watercolor wildlife and landscape works including a monumental commission piece that saw its only public display. The second was at Black Rock in May, where he unveiled a series of portrait and figurative works. The third was at the Villa Coffee House, where he showcased more than 40 field sketches, in pastel, charcoal, and watercolor, of his most recent Alaskan expedition depicting northern wildlife and landscapes.

The new gallery is located on the northwest corner of Broadway and Park Avenue, where the American Family Insurance office used to be (people who go back to the ‘80s will remember the location as Farmer’s Daughter).

“As soon as I saw this amazing storefront I realized that this is the location for my new business,” he said, adding that the building’s owner, the Downtown Development Association, Bank of Idaho and other downtown businesses have been very supportive.

Since opening in September, the gallery has showcased work by Peggy Judy, an acclaimed contemporary Western horse artist; Robert Moore, a landscape painter who works in thick impasto technique; David Mensing, another landscape painter; Kathy Burgraff, who specializes in oil and mixed media with a contemporary flavor; and Terry Crane, a painter of portraits and figures.

Papa Murphy's files plan for Ammon store

Knowing how hungry people here are for news about new restaurants, we’re always on the lookout for it during our weekly visits to the Idaho Falls and Ammon building department offices. It’s not every week we see names like Popeye’s or Panera on the white board (Ammon) or in the three-ring binder (Idaho Falls), but we do our best.

This week, we can report that Papa Murphy’s Take ’N’ Bake Pizza is moving into Ammon, at 1360 17th Street, roughly across the road from Kmart. The plans call for development of 2,434 square feet. Clayton Myers, the company’s local contact person, said they hope to have it open by December.

This will be the third Papa Murphy’s in the Idaho Falls-Ammon area. The chain also has stores in Rexburg, Blackfoot and Pocatello. Worldwide, with more than 1,425 stores in 38 states, Canada and United Arab Emirates, the 34-year-old company has established itself as the largest Take 'N' Bake pizza company in the world and the fifth-largest pizza company.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Napa Auto Parts building new store

NAPA Auto Parts has broken ground on a new store at 2517 North Holmes Avenue, to replace its longtime location on East Anderson near C-A-L Ranch Store.

The plans call for a 10,584-square foot building on 1.165 acres of land. The store on Anderson is owned by Jake Dyson. Valuation of the project, according to the Idaho Falls Building Department, is $750,000.

NAPA has nearly 6,000 stores and is a subsidiary of Genuine Auto Parts, a company founded in 1928 and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. For a would-be owner, the company requires at least $75,000 to $150,000 in liquid capital available. According to the Web page, the average total new store investment is approximately $600,000, with the overall investment varying on the basis of market and store size. There are no franchise fees or royalties, but owners are asked to participate in the company’s national advertising program to maximize the true benefit of the NAPA system and drive traffic to their stores.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

After tumultuous year, Double Down closes doors

Double Down's owners announced Monday it was closing.
Double Down, 3078 Outlet Boulevard, has closed its doors, its owners saying they can't stay in business now that an Idaho Supreme Court ruling has made historical racing machines illegal.

Melissa Bernard, who ran the establishment with her husband, Jim, told East Idaho News they’d invested more than $3 million dollars since opening in 2014, the year the Idaho Legislature made historical racing machines legal. “Unfortunately, when historical racing was pulled, it was no longer feasible to remain in operation,” she said.

Historical racing machines came front and center earlier this year in the Idaho Legislature after drawing the ire of anti-gambling forces and Native American tribes, the latter regarding the machines to be competition to what they offer at their reservation casinos.

A historical racing machine works like this: When a player makes a wager, a race is randomly selected from a video library of over 60,000 previous races. Identifying information such as the location and date of the race, and the names of the horses and jockeys, is not shown.

The player is able to view a "Skill Graph" chart from the Daily Racing Form, showing information such as jockeys' and trainers' winning percentages, and based on this handicapping information the player picks the projected top three runners in order of finish. Many players use a "handi helper" feature, which allows the machine to automatically make the selections.

While early versions of the terminals looked like self-serve wagering terminals, over time some began to mimic slot machines, with symbols on spinning reels showing the results of the player's wager and the video of the actual race consigned to a 2-inch square in the corner of the screen.

Once the similarity to slot machines became common knowledge, legislators began pushing for a repeal of 2014's House Bill 220, which had made the machines legal.  Senate Bill 1011 repealed the Legislature's prior approval of the devices, passing the House by a 49-21 vote and the Senate 25-9.

Otter vetoed the bill, and the Senate’s 19-16 subsequent vote to override him fell five votes short. While he then called for a moratorium on any new instant racing machines, Senate leaders took more direct action, entering statements into the official record that they had failed to receive the veto within the five days required by law.

In a unanimous decision Sept. 10, the Supreme Court ruled that Otter had essentially botched the veto. Otter told the Idaho Statesman he was “disappointed” in the ruling and maintained that his actions were legal. “While I disagree with (the) ruling, I will continue working toward a solution that ensures a viable live horse racing industry in Idaho,” he said.

All this will be too late for Double Down and its 70 employees. Any thoughts?