Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Chamber annual membership meeting set for Jan. 19

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Idaho Falls Power GM elected to chair UAMPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

KC Frames now on Woodruff Avenue

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 11, 2015

Renew Cryotherapy opens on 25th Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Rizo's Pizza planned for development in Ammon

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 7, 2015

WeeBee Toys plans to open Saturday in downtown Idaho Falls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WeeBee Toys can be found online at and on Facebook at

Thursday, December 3, 2015

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work begins on The Falls apartment complex at Snake River Landing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dan's Ace Hardware coming to West Broadway

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

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

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

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

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