Thursday, December 29, 2016

WestBank Convention Center plans grand reopening New Year's Eve

The newly remodeled WestBank Lounge
After nearly two-and-a-half years in limbo, the WestBank Restaurant, Lounge & Convention Center is planning its grand opening Saturday with a New Year’s Eve bash.

The property at 525 River Parkway was padlocked in August 2014. That was when the tower next door went into foreclosure after the owner, Idaho Hotel Holdings, filed a default judgment against the management company, Om Shiv Ganesh LLC, for more than $3.4 million. Om Shiv Ganesh also had been managing the motel and convention center, but when the tower went into receivership convention center owner Dane Watkins decided he would shut it down while he looked for a new operator.

The tower was sold at auction in 2015 and is now run as a Rodeway Inn by Idaho Falls Lodge LLC, a subsidiary of Choice Hotels International, which franchises more than 6,300 hotels in more than 35 countries and territories. Since late November or early December, the remodeled lounge and restaurant, now called the WestBank Restaurant, Lounge & Convention Center, have been managed by the same company.

A few events have been held since November, when remodeling was finished and the lounge reopened. The dining room has been serving complimentary continental breakfasts to hotel guests.

For the grand opening Saturday night, doors will be opened at 7:30 and dinner will begin at 8. Tickets are $55 a couple for dinner and dancing or $120 for dinner, dancing and a hotel room.

For information, call 523-8000. The Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/westbank.idahofalls/.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

EIRMC celebrates 30 years today

Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center officially turns 30 today. The tertiary care hospital at 3100 Channing Way was officially dedicated Dec. 22, 1986. If I could find the story I wrote that ran Dec. 23, 1986, I would post it, but in the meantime here is a history written by Kathy J. Fatkin on EIRMC’s webpage: http://eirmc.com/about/history.dot.

To celebrate 30 years in operation, the hospital announced this fall that it was asking the community for 30,000 canned food items, which it has accomplished. Canned goods have been collected through physical donations at the hospital and through a virtual canned food drive at EIRMC30Years.com. Visitors to the site were able to participate once each day and each time they did EIRMC committed to purchase canned goods on their behalf.

The canned food drive will continue through the end of the year (if you want to donate online, there is a link on the right side of this page.) After Jan. 1, the final count will be calculated, EIRMC will arrange to purchase cans generated by the virtual canned food drive, and preparations will be made to distribute the cans to 11 area food banks throughout EIRMC’s service area.

The 11 area food banks are Community Dinner Table (Blackfoot Community Pantry), Community Food Basket (Idaho Falls), Cornerstone Pentecostal Food Bank, Family Crisis Center (Rexburg), Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen, Jefferson County Food Bank, North Bingham County Community Food Bank, North Fremont Food Pantry, Salvation Army (Idaho Falls), St. Vincent de Paul, and Teton Valley Food Bank. EIRMC anticipates that the cans will be distributed in mid-January.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Local Marketing Boot Camp set for Jan. 19 at EITC

For anyone who wants to learn more about Internet marketing and social media, there will be a Local Marketing Boot Camp on Jan. 19, 2017, at Eastern Idaho Technical College.

Running from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., it will feature talks, panel discussions and hands-on exercises with six local experts:

Subjects to be covered include …

  • Online marketing
  • Basic to advanced search engine optimization
  • Great design converts
  • Facebook and Facebook Ads
  • Google AdWords and pay-per-click
  • Getting reviews
  • Offline marketing

Price for the event is $75, which includes snacks and lunch. Tickets may be purchased here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/local-web-marketing-bootcamp-tickets-28985490382.  Seating is limited to 40 people.

For more information, visit the event’s webpage: http://localmarketingbootcamp.com/

Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" (spoilers ahead)

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and her ragtag band of Rebels in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"
Today we feature a review of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" written by Bill Menser. We saw it on Saturday and he had all sorts of opinions, so I asked him to write a review. He is being paid for this. 

Bill has been around long enough to know his "Star Wars." How long? Long enough to have seen "The Phantom Menace" from the balcony of the old Rio Theater. Long enough to have seen the VHS tape in which Han Solo shoots Greedo not because Greedo shoots first but because Greedo has become a bore and is obviously going to try something. Anyway, here's the write up ...

The reviews I have read of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” have been mixed, with more people saying they liked it than those who didn’t. I’m with the majority, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have problems with the film.

Before I go any further, a warning. This will contain spoilers, so if you want to avoid them stop reading right now and find another review to look at. If you are fine with spoilers and people having opinions different than yours, or possibly even the same, please keep on reading.

The first ten minutes of the film start off on four different planets, with different characters for each segment. As I was finally adjusting to each planet’s story, the movie would suddenly switch to different characters in a different system, making the process confusing.

It finally settled on a planet where the main heroine is. Jyn Erso is young at this point — about 7, I would guess —and she is on a farm with her father and mother. An Imperial shuttle appears on the horizon and the father, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) goes to meet it, telling his wife and daughter to hide. Galen, it turns out, used to be an Imperial scientist. Death Star Project Manager Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) has arrived to take him back. He politely refuses. Then Mommy Dearest decides she has to help Papa by showing up with a blaster, getting herself predictably killed and leaving Jyn hidden in the family bolthole as her father is taken away. Jyn gets found by ... some guy.

This turns out to be Saw Gerrera (Forrest Whittaker), a rebel extremist. By this time, Jyn (Felicity Jones) is older and on a prison ship. She gets rescued by rebels who see her as a way to get to Saw, now in seclusion. Saw eventually dies because he doesn’t want to run from the Imperials anymore. His death feels like a reason to give Jyn more issues, when she already has enough. But now she knows where her father is. She comes to his rescue in time for him to die. (Major spoiler: Nearly everybody in this movie dies.)

The only really refreshing bit for me was K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk, of “Firefly” fame. He was a sigh of relief in what I felt was an over-budgeted fan-film. This sassy robot got a laugh with almost every line he delivered.

My enjoyment of his character was countered, however, when Darth Vader, after Force-choking Krennic and looking as smug as a man in a mask can, says, “Be careful not to CHOKE on your aspirations.” I had to roll my eyes at this. Vader has never been wisecracker.

Speaking of Vader, I know they got James Earl Jones to voice him once more, but he sounded like someone trying to impersonate James Earl Jones. If they touched his voice in post-processing just a bit and made it half an octave lower, it would have been Vader, but it sounded too much like some replacement with a head cold.

While the first half of the film didn’t hold my attention that much, the second had me invested. Of course the relationship between Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and Jyn felt like a fan fiction: Jyn, the girl with a dead parent and daddy issues falling for the Rebel, angsty and seemingly uncaring. Of course they end up with each other.

For the climactic battle, a small team sneaks through a giant atmospheric shield with a captured Imperial cargo ship they somehow hijack from the Rebel base. The Imperial shield looks like something straight out of Mel Brooks’ “Space Balls.” The team lands on a pad and passes the inspection process, and they somehow manage to sneak by the soldiers on the pad.

While Jyn, Cassian and K-2SO make their way to the main tower, the Rebel team creates a distraction by blowing up as many different landing pads as they can, to make the attack seem much larger than it is. By this point Krennic has figured out they’re after the data archive. He takes some Death Troopers to investigate (these are basically Imperial Stormtroopers, except they can aim and wear black instead of white.)

Cassian and Jyn retrieve the Death Star plans (which her dad has thoughtfully named “Stardust,” his nickname for her), then Krennic and Cassian have a shootout while Jyn climbs to the radar dish on top of the tower. Cassian is hit and falls, seemingly dead. Which of course he isn’t. Jyn realigns the dish to transmit the file to a waiting rebel ship that has conveniently showed up during the attack. Krennic steps in between her and the console and at gunpoint asks who she is. Jyn reveals she is Galen Erso’s daughter, then Cassian shoots and kills Krennic.

Now able to transmit the data to the waiting ship, they do so just as the Death Star appears out of Hyperspace on the horizon. Uh-oh! Jyn and Cassian look at each other lovingly and make their way down to the beach as the Death Star fires on the planet. They die holding hands in a blinding white flash, but the Rebels have the plans. Vader shows up to butcher a few dozen Rebels, but they still manage to pass the plans on to Princess Leia, who gets off the ship.

Even though I felt like the script had been lifted from a fan-fiction website, “Rogue One” was still a “Star Wars” movie. It had all the proper elements. It was political and word-heavy, it had great fight scenes and big explosions. It had some wit, one-liners and even a villain (Krennic) you could feel something for. The supporting cast — a defecting pilot, a blind monk who is strong with the Force, and his friend, not so strong with the Force but an ace with heavy weapon — got some good lines and helped move things along. C-3PO and R2-D2 got a cameo to remind us this is a warm up to “Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope.” Same with Vader and Leia, but I felt like it could have left them out and still flowed perfectly into George Lucas’ original from 1977.

I don’t regret seeing “Rogue One” and would recommend it to others. On my personal “Star Wars” scale, with “The Phantom Menace” representing a 1 and “The Empire Strikes Back” rating a 9, I would give this one a 6.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Five from Idaho Falls named IBR Women of the Year

Jackie Flowers
The Idaho Business Review has announced the 50 women it plans to honor in March as Idaho Women of the Year. Eastern Idaho and the Idaho National Laboratory are showing a growing presence on the list, with five women named:

  • Jackie Flowers, general manager, Idaho Falls Power, Idaho Falls
  • Wendy Horman, representative, Idaho House of Representatives, Idaho Falls
  • Amy Lientz, director, Partnerships, Engagement and Technology Department, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls
  • Catherine Riddle, radiochemistry research scientist, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls
  • Denise L. Stephens, chief information officer and director of information management, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls

The judges – former honorees themselves, plus a representative from program sponsor Hawley Troxell – reviewed each application, rating the women 1 to 5 in five categories: professional achievements, leadership, providing mentorship to other women, community service work, and community leadership.

Amy Lientz
As instructed, they read through each submission carefully and thoughtfully. The highest and lowest scores for every applicant were tossed out, and the remaining scores were averaged. The 50 women with the highest scores are this year’s honorees, representing women across the state. This year there are honorees from the Treasure Valley (Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Nampa), Twin Falls, Oakley, Pocatello, Glenns Ferry, Lewiston, Caldwell, and Idaho Falls.

“It was tough to score. I hope that some that didn’t score as high will apply again. Some just need a little more time to do great things!” said Ammon Mayor Dana Kirkham, who along with Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper was honored this past spring.

This year’s honorees include six who will enter the Circle of Excellence; they have received the honor before. Women can be recognized with the award up to three times.

Wendy Horman
The women will be honored at a reception, dinner and awards gala 5:30 to 9 p.m. on March 9 at the Boise Centre. One woman of the 50 will be named at the end of the evening’s event and honored as the Idaho Business Review Woman of the Year. A dedicated magazine featuring all of their stories will be published with the March 10 Idaho Business Review.

Seating for the event, which will be held at the new Boise Centre East, is limited. ”Dressy” to formal attire is the norm; however, there is not a strict dress code. In the past, this event, hailed as “the Academy Awards of Boise” has been a sellout. It is recommended you reserve your table(s) and/or ticket(s) early. For tickets, visit https://www.regonline.com/registration/Checkin.aspx?EventID=1915588.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

INL, auto companies complete bench tests on wireless charging systems

At INL’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Laboratory, researchers collaborated with six major companies to bench test wireless charging systems for electric vehicles.
Idaho National Laboratory researchers and six companies have achieved a major milestone by completing bench testing for wireless charging systems, a technology that eliminates the need to plug in electric vehicles.

INL researchers collaborated on the tests this past summer with Toyota, Nissan, WiTricity, Jaguar Land Rover, Qualcomm and one other auto company. The results were reported in November to SAE International (formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers) to support the SAE Technical Information Report J2954, a wireless charging guideline published earlier this year.

Wireless charging systems use electricity from the grid to generate a magnetic field from a charging pad on the ground that transfers energy to a pad on the bottom of the electric vehicle.  The energy is converted to electricity to charge the battery.

The SAE Technical Information Report J2954™ guideline is designed to allow charging pads from one company to work with the vehicle pads from another company. This “interoperability” is important for safety and performance of wireless charging systems.

“Electric vehicles equipped with a J2954 wireless charger should be able to charge over any J2954 charging pad,” said Richard “Barney” Carlson, the INL engineer who heads up the wireless charging tests.

When it comes to wireless charging, alignment with the ground pad matters. If the gap is too large, or the pads are misaligned, the charging efficiency is significantly reduced. At INL’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Laboratory, Carlson and his colleagues have developed a testing system to measure the efficiency of and electromagnetic field around the wireless charging systems.

A computer-controlled motor-driven table can precisely misalign the ground assembly relative to the vehicle assembly so researchers can determine how much energy is lost when cars aren’t perfectly parked. Then, different types of equipment are used to measure factors such as electromagnetic field strength, electrical power quality and charge power efficiency.

“This is the most comprehensive testing of its kind and will help the SAE committee develop the wireless charging guidelines,” Carlson said.

Engineers from the six companies visited the laboratory to collaborate on a series of interoperability tests for their respective wireless charging systems. Data from those tests will be used to further develop the draft SAE guidelines, which will ensure that wireless charging systems entering the market meet minimum interoperability requirements for proper functionality, high efficiency and safe operation.

“Idaho National Laboratory has provided SAE with invaluable bench data that the Technical Committee will use to develop the next phase of standardization,” said Jesse Schneider of BMW, chair of the SAE task force. “Wireless power transfer vehicle data is needed before guidelines can be published. INL offers an ideal combination of expertise and capabilities to assist industry with this effort.”

In addition to the convenience of hands-free charging, wireless charging systems could provide fail-safe vehicle charging for drivers who might occasionally forget to plug in their cars. Plugged in, electric vehicles can take anywhere from 30 minutes to eight hours to reach an 80 percent charge.

Funding for INL's wireless charging testing in support of SAE International comes from the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Michelle Holt named new EITC Workforce Development & Community Education Manager

Michelle Holt
Eastern Idaho Technical College announced this afternoon it has named Michelle Holt as its new Workforce Development & Community Education Manager. She will replace Ken Erickson who came in the days it was still Eastern Idaho Vocational Technical School and is retiring after more than 39 years of service.

Holt, who has been CEO of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Idaho Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau since July 2013, will start her new position on Feb. 7, 2017.

Before coming to Idaho Falls, she was executive director of Lost Rivers Economic Development, representing Butte and South Custer counties. “One common thread throughout much of my career has been workforce development,” she said. “Talent pipeline and the need for a skilled workforce impacts all of our chamber member businesses, as well as the entire business community. Cooperative partnerships like those between the chamber and EITC are key to ensuring the economic future of our community.”
Ken Erickson
“Michelle has the experience and professional network to continue the college’s role in support of a trained workforce for eastern Idaho,” said EITC President Rick Aman. “The prospect of a transition of EITC from a technical college into a comprehensive community college provides a unique opportunity in partnership with regional employers. Ms. Holt brings a wealth of experience and service to our business community.”

The Chamber CEO position is now open for applications through Jan. 16, 2017. The full job description can be found on the chamber website, under Job Postings, at the bottom of the homepage, www.idahofallschamber.com.  Resumes with cover letter can be emailed to christie@aeshr.net.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

INL, Colorado company announce deal on battery monitoring technology

Eric Dufek, head of Idaho National Laboratory's Energy Stoarge Group, at work in the Energy Systems Laboratory on University Boulevard. INL has been involved with electric vehicle battery research for the U.S. Department of Energy since the 1980s.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory has teamed with Dynexus Technology of Boulder, Colo., to provide the energy storage industry with first-of-a-kind technology for advanced battery health diagnostics.

Under an exclusive licensing agreement, Dynexus will commercialize INL’s embedded wideband impedance technology for analyzing and forecasting the health, aging and safety characteristics of advanced energy storage devices. The 2011 R&D 100 Award-winning Impedance Measurement Box (IMB) was invented by INL’s Energy Storage Group with support from the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office.

Dynexus, headquartered in Colorado, develops products and services that connect advanced sensor-based enterprise data with decision makers to improve access to embedded intelligence. The wideband impedance technique developed at INL delivers in-depth diagnostic insights not previously available outside the battery research lab, providing tremendous value for safer and more cost-effective commercial implementation of advanced energy storage technologies.

“The whole purpose of the work is to understand the bounds of safety and performance as the battery ages,” said Eric Dufek, INL’s energy storage group lead. “This allows informed decisions about the state of health and battery life.”

The dependability of energy storage devices, mainly batteries, is becoming increasingly important to consumers, industry and the military. As battery end-user expectations increase and the consequences of battery failures become more pronounced, there is a pressing need for timely insights about battery health to ensure predictable performance, personal safety and reduction of waste. INL’s broad-spectrum impedance technology enables embedded continuous monitoring of a battery’s health and remaining life throughout the entire course of its life cycle.

From an environmental standpoint, the INL technology could help find new uses for EV batteries after their capacity fades beyond acceptable power and range performance, usually defined as below 80 percent of initial capacity.

“This technology could help assess the resale value of a used electric vehicle, or provide remaining life and safety insights for repurposing those batteries into secondary applications,” said Dynexus president and CEO, David Sorum. “Monitoring battery health and remaining life will help ensure the safety and reliability of repurposed batteries, and will strengthen their viability, insurability and marketability.”

Although embedded wideband impedance evolved from INL’s participation in automotive battery research and development, Dynexus Technology will explore commercial applications across a broad range of markets, from EVs to drones, from utility energy storage to telecommunications, and from medical devices to military systems. In all cases, the wideband impedance technique delivers operational data not previously available outside a laboratory setting.

“The technology has the potential to add value at all levels across the battery value chain,” said David Lung, Dynexus chief technology officer. “It’s like having an onboard “smart meter” for your electric vehicle battery, providing the owner and the dealership with immediate and easily accessible factual information about battery health throughout its useful life.”

Read more about the technology here:

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Home prices trend upward

Here is a line graph showing what the price of a $125,000 home in the Idaho Falls area would have done over the last 15 years. After peaking in the first half of 2008, the number slid in mid-2011 and bobbed for a few years, until mid-2014, when it started to climb again.
What a difference 15 years make, although it doesn’t always feel that way.

For lack of any real news breaking today, we decided to go back to our old friend, the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Calculator. This is the Web page where you can plug in your numbers and see how home prices have trended in your market.

Arbitrarily, we decided to see what a hypothetical property valued at $125,000 in the third quarter of 2001 would be estimated worth today. The results for all the markets we looked at are good, some really good. Here’s a breakdown.

Idaho Falls: $185,996  +48.7%
Pocatello: $185,252  +48.2%
Boise: $220,150  +76.1%
Reno: $209,754  +67.8%
Las Vegas: $181,459  +45.1%
Seattle: $251,652  +101.3%
Phoenix: $220,705 +76.5%

What’s interesting to look at is the volatility over the past 15 years. There's no question things bottomed out for everyone in 2011. In Las Vegas, your $125k from 10 years earlier would be $95,592 in the Q4 of 2011. In Idaho Falls, on the other hand, the line dipped but never below where it started. But the figure from Q3 of this year is still below the all-time high of Q3 2008, when it peaked at $187,961.

Here's a graph for Boise. Note that Joe Homeowner was underwater from Q1 2011 to Q2 2012, but recovery has been strong since then. 

Go ahead and try your house, but remember these are just numbers. Your house is only going to be worth what someone is willing to pay for it. What the HPI Calculator projects is what a given house purchased at a point in time would be worth today if it appreciated at the average appreciation rate of all homes in the area. The actual value of any house will depend on the neighborhood, house condition and age, home improvements made and needed, and many other factors. Consult a qualified real estate appraiser in your area to obtain a professional estimate of the current value of your home. Title XI of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 requires that any appraisal used in connection with a federally related transaction must be performed by a competent individual whose professional conduct is subject to supervision and regulation. Appraisers must be licensed or certified according to state law.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

U.S. Bank Foundation makes donation to EITC scholarships

The U.S. Bank Foundation has donated $5,000 to the Eastern Idaho Technical College Foundation to benefit the scholarship program for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Tracy Hoart, the bank’s vice president and district manager, and Deborah Moretto, vice president and trust officer for private client group, who also serves as the EITC Foundation chairwoman, visited the foundation to present the award. All scholarship dollars are allocated to students attending Eastern Idaho Technical College. The foundation awards nearly $200,000 every year in scholarships.

“Nearly one-third of EITC students receive scholarship awards through our office,” said Natalie Hebard, the foundation’s executive director. “Each and every donation is critical to supporting the mission.”

If you or someone you know is interested in attending EITC and would like to apply for scholarship support the next deadline to apply for scholarships is Feb. 10, 2017. Award notifications will be made by the end of March and funds will be available for fall 2017 and spring 2018. Applications can be picked up in person at the foundation office, 1600 S. 2500 East, Building No. 3, or found online at www.eitcfoundation.org.

To learn more about the Eastern Idaho Technical College Foundation, please visit www.eitcfoundation.org, or call 208-535-5398.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Work progresses on new Deseret Industries store in Ammon

Looking east across the site of the future Deseret Industries store in Ammon.
In case you're wondering about all the dirt being moved in Ammon on 17th Street next door to Piano Gallery, that is the site of the new Deseret Industries store.

Site plans were filed in August, but the work has only started in earnest since the building permit was issued earlier this month. The project, on 6.45 acres, calls for a building of 48,605 square feet, 8,746 of which will be devoted to office space, to consolidate the Welfare and LDS Employment offices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the same building.

The store will replace the downtown Idaho Falls store at 450 E Street. Earlier this year Deseret Industries Marketing Manager Booke Yates told Local News 8 that the old store had served the community sell, "but was beginning to get a little run down." She said the construction team is also "evaluating the future" of the current Deseret Industries store location.

The new building has been designed by JRW Architecture of Rexburg.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

In 1966, Christmas shopping season started later, but with a lot more hoopla

Baloo the Bear makes his way through the streets of Davenport, Iowa, in a mid-'60s holiday season parade.
Now that "Black Friday" is in our rear view mirror, I find it interesting that the Christmas shopping season of 1966 officially kicked off on Dec. 3. That was the day the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce had made arrangements for a parade featuring marching bands, majorette squads, beauty pageant winners, Santa Claus, and -- most curiously -- 40 giant balloons from Giant Balloon Parades, Inc.

The mobile extravaganza was to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Memorial Drive in front of the LDS Temple and proceed to A Street, turn east on A to Yellowstone Avenue, then north to First Street, east on First to Holmes Avenue, then north on Holmes to the Country Club Shopping Center.

More than 200 youngsters, most of them Boy Scouts, had been brought into service to pull the balloons (characters from "The Wizard of Oz," "Alice in Wonderland" and "Aladdin and His Lamp," among others) along the parade route.

Some Googling reveals that Giant Balloon Parades was a company based in Newark, N.J. According to a 2006 article in the Quad City Times, Balloon parades were a hit in the '60s, the balloons were filled with air, not helium. They were mounted on big dollies and wheeled through the streets by costumed handlers.

With a portable air compressor they had to be filled just to a pressure of about four pounds to the square inch. "If we put in too much they’ll blow up,” a company representative told Jim Arpy, reporter for the Times-Democrat in Davenport, Iowa.

Anyway, I would be curious if anyone remembers this parade in Idaho Falls from 50 years ago. I can't imagine that it wasn't something to remember.

Monday, November 28, 2016

In honor of Cyber Monday, a trip back down Memory Lane, aka the 'Information Superhighway'

A screamin' machine in its day: The Leading Edge Model D. Initially priced at $1,495, it came with dual 5.25" floppy drives, 256 KB of RAM and a monochrome monitor.

In honor of Cyber Monday, when we are all expected to go hog wild online, I did a little digging to excavate the first story I ever wrote about the Internet. It appeared in the Post Register on April 10, 1994. In print.

Back then, we were calling it the "information superhighway." When was the last time you heard that term? Other headlines from that day's edition included, "Authorities say rapes often go unreported" and "Cobain's suicide perplexes local youth."

I think my home computer at the time was a Leading Edge 286, which I got from my brother-in-law in exchange for a microwave oven. It used 5 1/4-inch floppy disks and was handy for balancing my checkbook.

Anyway, here's the report:


Remember that old encyclopedia you had when you were a kid? The one in which Eisenhower was still president and the Piltdown man was still regarded as a revolutionary archaeological find?

OK, you were brilliant and got straight A's in spite of it. But think of how much easier it would have been if you'd had the latest information at your fingertips.

It's the computer age now. Although there's still lots of work to be done on the much-hyped "information superhighway," eastern Idahoans will soon have an easier time of getting linked up to the Internet, the worldwide network on which it's possible to get the latest information on practically anything.

SRVnet, a new non-profit organization based in Idaho Falls, is offering low-cost access to the Internet, access that has been limited until now to universities and government research agencies.

"My children just get on it and cruise," said Nancy Peterson, who is seeking investors and subscribers to help raise the $40,000 the association needs.

There are significant differences between SRVnet and commercial services like Compuserve, Prodigy and America OnLine. The people who run commerical services limit a user's exposure to what they want the user to see -- usually things for which they've been paid. The offer hook-ups to the Internet, but that involves a surcharge on top of the base cost, Peterson said.

With SRVnet, a user pays a set amount for a straight pipeline to the Internet. A "gold membership" costs $240 for two years, giving a user four free hours every month. Silver members pay $120 for one year, involving three free hours a month. Bronze members pay $10 a month for two free hours a month. Extra use in all three cases is billed at $3 an hour.

"If we could get 120 gold members and 120 silver members to sign up, we could begin," Peterson said. "The necessary documents have been filed and the equipment is waiting to be ordered."
If the effort falls through, all money will be refunded, Peterson said.

There will be a one-time charge of $29.95 for software, or users may purchase their own.
It's also essential to get a basic computer setup that can process information fairly fast. Any IBM compatible PC should be at least a 386 with Windows software (the programs will also run on Macintosh.) A regular telephone line will work fine, but the modem's capacity should be 9600 bps or more.

A good modem will cost around $150 to $200, Peterson said. PC prices vary and are coming down all the time. "In the next few years, you're going to see more and more people coming online," she added.

Anyone with children should be particularly interested in getting online with SRVnet, since the service will be very similar to the Internet access public schools will be offering. For business people, the Internet offers a competitive edge, both in gathering and putting out information. It's possible to start a bulletin board on the Internet that allows you to get your message out to anyone who has an interest in what you have to offer, Peterson said.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Retired city planner Renee Magee receives award for Smart Growth contributions

Renee Magee
Longtime Idaho Falls City Planner Renee Magee received the Charles Hummel Award from Idaho Smart Growth at its annual banquet, held last Thursday in Boise.

Named after Charles Hummel, an architect, historic preservationist and co-founder of Idaho Smart Growth, the award is given in recognition of an individual who demonstrates the same dedication to smart growth, and who exemplifies personal integrity and contributions to Idaho’s quality of life. Hummel died Oct. 22 at age 91.

Magee was Idaho Falls’ planning director from April 1997 to 2013. Since retiring, she has been active in guiding the Idaho Falls Historic Preservation Commission. She is active in Rotary and serves on the Museum of Idaho Board of Directors. She holds a master’s in city and regional planning from Ohio State University and a law degree from University of Wyoming.

As city planner and in retirement, Magee has been a guiding light in Idaho Falls’ downtown revitalization. With the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency, she offered advice most recently on the Bonneville Hotel project, suggesting a mix of market-rate and affordable residential units with retail on the ground floor. Built in 1927 the five-story hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and most likely qualifies for historic preservation tax credits and low-income housing tax credits. A development team was selected in August for the project, cost of which has been estimated at roughly $10 million.

Other 2016 Smart Growth awards given Thursday included:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Way Livability & Storm Water Project; Pocatello – Transportation Award

This main road through Idaho State University was redesigned to serve pedestrians and transit better as well as to improve safety for all users. Landscape and green storm water treatments complete the improvements.

Blaine County Community Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan; Blaine County – Citizen Advocacy Award

This plan has implementation strategies in place and some elements have already been implemented. Kudos for tackling bike/ped planning at the regional level and conducting a health impact assessment as part of the process.

Willard Arts Center and Colonial Theater; Idaho Falls – Redevelopment Award

The project is a great example of infill redevelopment that includes historic preservation. More than a decade in the making, it clearly has succeeded in bringing more people downtown, stimulating cultural activity and economic vibrancy.

Teton View Regional Plan for Sustainable Development; Teton County – Planning & Policy Award

A high level of involvement and commitment is shown by the many players brought together to make this happen. The plan provides clear direction for the region’s growth and addresses regional resources beyond land use with an eye toward sustainability.

Idaho Avenue Placemaking; Meridian – Redevelopment Award

This is an example of the catalytic nature of the lighter, quicker, cheaper placemaking approach that helps trigger community development quickly. The first project to be implemented from Meridian’s Placemaking Downtown Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper action plan is an excellent example of repurposing underutilized road right-of-way to another use.

36 Oak; Garden City – Infill Award

NeighborWorks Boise is using infill as an approach to providing affordable housing and live/work options. This is a good example of cottage-style single-family infill that increases density somewhat without overwhelming the surrounding neighborhood and does a good job of fulfilling Garden City’s comprehensive plan.

Vista Avenue Healthy Corridor; Boise – Citizen Advocacy Award

Grow Smart Awards have never previously recognized a study, however this one by the Urban Land Institute showed very good community engagement and collaboration with the city’s LIV program and the neighborhood. As a result the study has stimulated conversation and excitement which gave the jury confidence it will be utilized and implemented.

Nampa Library Square; Nampa – Commercial Award

This development did a great job of recognizing community needs as reflected in the variety of services provided. Keeping the library downtown and using it as an economic catalyst, including a mixed use development with structured and bike parking, are strong smart growth elements of the project.

Highway 55 Payette River “Lardo” Bridge; McCall – Small Community Award

More than just an aging bridge replacement, in this project the city worked with ITD to accomplish community development goals that emerged from previous planning efforts with good public engagement. The project completes a gap in the walking and biking network and provides space for public art; it’s as much a placemaking project as it is a transportation project.

For more information about the Grow Smart Awards and Idaho Smart Growth go to www.idahosmartgrowth.org.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

TEDxIdahoFalls seeking speakers for 2017 program

TEDxIdahoFalls has launched its search for presenters for the 2017 event, to be held in February 2017.

In the spirit of "ideas worth spreading," the global idea-exchange platform, TED, has created TEDx, a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. The local event is named TEDxIdahoFalls will feature TEDTalks video and live speakers to spark deep discussion.

The local event organizer, Brad Christensen, is leading the team curating speakers for the event. What they are really looking for are ideas, he said. “New ideas that originate in our community, but are widely relatable. Ideas or topics that may change perceptions, not something self-evident, are what make an exciting TED talk.”

All potential speakers are advised to visit www.TEDxIdahoFalls.com and fill out the request form. Requests must be received by Dec. 31, and the panel will be chosen by Jan. 15, 2017.

Information for those requesting to attend will be available in January.

For updates, information may be found at www.TEDxIdahoFalls.com, on FaceBook at facebook.com/TEDxIdahoFalls and on Twitter at twitter.com/TEDxIdahoFalls.

Here's a TEDxIdahoFalls presentation from earlier this year, “Body Language: The Key to Your Subconscious,” from Ann Washburn.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

INL, REDI plan meeting to discuss lab's future, partnership opportunities

Idaho National Laboratory and REDI will be hosting an event in Idaho Falls Dec. 1 where the public is invited to learn more about Idaho National Laboratory’s future and how the lab can partner with businesses and community organizations.

INL leaders will be on hand to talk about INL’s people and their capabilities, how to access grants and research opportunities, STEM and university partnerships, as well as small business and tech-based economic development opportunities.

The time is from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at the INL Meeting Center, 775 University Boulevard.

Attendance will be limited so please register by Friday at partner.inl.gov
or email EmilyB@gallatinPA.com to secure a spot.

New Business: Caryn’s Kitchen

Caryn's Kitchen is open in the Idaho Innovation Center parking lot on North Yellowstone.
In the bizmojoidaho@gmail.com queue today ...

Writing to you as our new food truck is open and running:

Caryn's Kitchen is located at 2288 Yellowstone, Idaho Falls, in the Idaho Innovation Center parking lot.  Hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

We serve breakfast and lunch.  Egg sandwiches, pancakes, biscuits & gravy, omelets and more. Lunch is hot and cold sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers and Italian specialties on certain days. Meatball heros, chicken Parmesan heros, lasagna and some surprises. There are also specialties from the East Coast.
Come try some of our meals.

We understand that everyone's time is precious so you can also call in an order @ 390-7368 and we will have it ready for you. Our menu is on Facebook at Caryn's Kitchen Food Truck.

If there are any questions, please feel free to contact us.  Also, stop by for some great food.

Thank you.

4 Facebook Reviews

Monday, November 14, 2016

New Business: Classy Beauty Salon

If you’ve got a new business, feel free to email BizMojoIdaho@gmail.com with a notice to help get the word out.

Pat Morf and Margi Vanover have bought A Touch of Class Beauty Salon and changed the name to Classy Beauty Salon. It is located at 590 2nd Street and the phone number is 208-529-3192.

Pat and Margi specialize in "traditional" hair styles, cuts and permanent waves. There is easy access for people using walkers or wheel chairs, and a quiet, pleasant atmosphere.

If you'd like to learn more, call or stop by Tuesday through Saturday. Hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wal-Mart fueling station, Culver's coming along

Culver's is to be built at 946 Pancheri Drive.
I had a request to find out what’s going on in the Wal-Mart parking lot on Utah Avenue. A review of building permits in the city of Idaho Falls eTRAKIT system (which I have to admit I’m still getting the hang of) show that this is a Wal-Mart fueling station.

The actual address is 510 S. Utah Avenue. The permit was applied for June 22, the site plan was approved Sept. 6 and the building permit was issued Oct. 24. The total share footage of the project is 966,659.

Also down that way, Culver’s is coming along. The address will be 946 Pancheri Drive. The restaurant is 4,457 square feet. The permit was applied for Aug. 22.

If you want to look at it, here’s a link: Culver's Permit.  Pretty neat, huh?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Rexburg chamber selects new secretary

Hyrum Erickson
Rexburg attorney Hyrum Erickson has been selected as secretary of the Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce and will also serve on the chamber’s four-member executive board.

Erickson joined the Rexburg firm of Rigby, Andrus & Rigby in 2008, after clerking for a district court judge in Boise. He handles all types of civil litigation, including appeals to the Idaho Supreme Court, as well as estate planning and probate. Erickson graduated from J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University.

Prior to law school, he worked as a legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Larry Craig in Washington. D.C. After law school, he served as a law clerk to Idaho District Judge Cheri Copsey in Boise. He also has served as chairman of the Rexburg chamber’s board. He and his his wife, Kirsten, have five children and enjoy hiking and camping together.

Erickson succeeds longtime chamber board member and past secretary Daryl Olsen of Alliance Title & Escrow, who recently relocated to Idaho Falls and was unable to continue his commitment to the board.

INL researchers honored at Idaho Innovation Awards

Luis Diaz Aldana and Tedd Lister of Idaho National Laboratory
The Idaho Innovation Awards honored inventors Tedd Lister and Luis Diaz Aldana of Idaho National Laboratory recently at a reception in Boise. This was the third major award Lister and Diaz Aldana received this year for Electrochemical Recycling Electronic Constituents of Value (E-RECOV), a process that uses an electrochemical cell to efficiently reclaim valuable metals and rare-earth elements from discarded electronic equipment. The technique leads to more thorough recycling of materials while significantly minimizing chemical use and waste generation, and can be accomplished domestically and economically. 

The annual Idaho Innovation Awards recognize innovations, innovative professionals and companies throughout the state. Stoel Rives LLP, a full-service, U.S. business law firm, has organized and hosted the program since 2006.

The technology was developed with funding from DOE’s Critical Materials Institute. Other awards won by E-RECOV include Federal Laboratory Consortium Far West Regional and TechConnect National Innovation Award. This patent-pending technology is also the focus of a collaborative Small Business Voucher project with Ohio-based eMaterials Recovery, LLC. The E-RECOV process is currently available for licensing. Interested parties can contact Ryan Bills for further information. You can learn more about E-RECOV in this video from the Idaho Innovation Awards or in this INL fact sheet.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Ohman takes seat on auditorium district board

John "Mick" Ohman
The Idaho Falls Auditorium District (IFAD) has added John “Mick” Ohman to its board of directors, filling the vacancy left by Ryan Meikle.

Ohman has been an attorney in Idaho for more than 40 years. He received his BSBA and Juris Doctor degrees from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. He is an active contributor to a wide range of local charitable organizations and activities, served as an officer in the United States Army, and has served as Chairman of the Idaho Transportation Board. He is a member of the Idaho and Nebraska State Bars, the United States District Courts, the United States Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.

The Idaho Falls Auditorium District was established in 2011 and is involved in the planning and eventual construction of an events center in the Snake River Landing development on the city’s south side. Board meetings are held on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at the Business Development Center, 425 N. Capital Ave. For more information, visit www.idahofallsauditoriumdistrict.com.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Idaho Falls real estate agent elected to Women's Council of Realtors executive committee

Chris Pelkola Lee
Idaho Falls real estate dynamo Chris Pelkola Lee was elected to the executive committee of the Women’s Council of Realtors at its annual national conference, which ended Sunday in Orlando, Fla.

Lee is the owner of simpLEE Home. A native of the Chicago area, she has been a licensed Realtor in Idaho since 2007 and a licensed associate broker since 2011. Her certifications include:

Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)
Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI)
Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR)
Performance Management Network (PMN)
Short Sales and Foreclosure Resources Certification (SFR)
REALTOR® Technology Certification (ePRO)

“I find I have become quite passionate about guiding my clients through the transaction process and helping them avoid potential pitfalls and inherent risks along the way,” she said. “The data is out there for everyone. My role is as a guide, trusted advisor and negotiator.”

The Women’s Council of Realtors dates back to the 1930s, when the National Association of Real Estate Boards witnessed a growth of women working in real estate and an increased participation of women at national conventions. A Women's Division had been created in 1924 by the California Real Estate Association, and in 1938 National President Joseph Catherine encouraged the formation of a national Women's Council after being impressed by the California group.

At the time, NAR was already 30 years old, but most decisions were still made by local boards — most of which were resistant to offering membership to women. However, the National Association was ready to recognize women in real estate, and a positive vote resulted in the formation of a women's division at the Annual Convention in Milwaukee in November 1938. Thirty-seven ambitious women represented nine states at that meeting for Women's Council's inception.

For more information about Lee, here is a link to her Facebook business page: https://www.facebook.com/IFListings/?pnref=lhc

Friday, November 4, 2016

Idaho Business Review seeking Women of the Year nominees

The Idaho Business Review is taking nominations through Nov. 14 for its annual Women of the Year honors.

The award honors women who are shaping Idaho's economic and community well-being through their outstanding leadership, mentoring efforts and community involvement. Now in its 12th year, IBR's Women of the Year is presented by Hawley Troxell Attorneys and Counselors.

Two eastern Idaho finalists honored earlier this year were Rebecca Noah Casper, mayor of Idaho Falls, and Dana Boothe Kirkham, mayor of Ammon. No  arguing with their selection, but perhaps it would be a good idea to widen our scope a little more this year.

Nominations are open to successful women from public, private and
charitable businesses in Idaho. The application deadline is Nov. 30 and the finalists will be announced Dec. 16. The gala will be held in Boise on March 9. Women can be honored up to three times, earning them a place in the Circle of Excellence.

Here is a link to the nomination form: http://idahobusinessreview.com/nominate/

Here’s a link to the program from last spring: 2016 Idaho Business Review Women of the Year

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Madsens retiring from craft business after nearly 40 years

The sign at Madsen's store on West Broadway, which has been open since 1999. Before then, Dale and Pat Madsen were in the Skyline Shopping Center.

After nearly 40 years of hard work and memories, owners Dale and Pat Madsen are retiring.

The Madsens have developed long-lasting relationships with their customers over the years.
Dale is often found on the floor of the store in his signature hat his children gave him several years ago. He’s a definite people person with a frugal nature and good business savvy, Pat said. Plus, he just loves what he does.

Their customers are not happy to see the store go. “We’ve had customers come in and say, ‘We aren’t sure how we are going to get on without you,’” said Dale.

The store as it is today got its start after Dale earned his degree in business management, and he found that working in the Sears management program in Utah wasn’t his cup of tea.

“I wanted to get back to where I grew up,” said Dale, who is originally from the Rigby area.
He and Pat had two small children at the time, and Pat remembers Dale calling her with the news.

“He told me he had quit Sears and had a job in Idaho Falls, and we didn’t even have a place to live yet,” said Pat.

But it all worked out just fine, she added. Dale went to work for the Ben Franklin store in the former Skyline shopping center at the corner of Broadway and Skyline in west Idaho Falls. It was a popular franchise variety store, and Dale thrived there. After four years, he bought the store from the owner.
As the business landscape changed, more people headed to big box stores for variety items, but

Dale’s store had a loyal following of those looking for unique crafts and fabrics. So in 1999, they bought the land and built the building where Madsen’s sits today, changing the name and focus to be crafts, fabric and framing.

“It was a big investment, but it worked out,” said Pat.

These days, Dale directs the day-to-day operations, while Pat takes care of payroll and ordering all of the fabric—a big job by itself, but one she has loved.

“I’ve been sewing since I was 8 years old,” she said. “People love our fabric. The quality is different.”

Pat said that the type of sewing people do has changed a lot over the years; many people used to sew their own clothes, but these days it is all about quilting.

“This has become the go-to place for the quilting groups in the area,” said long-time employee Sallie Hobbs.

Hobbs will miss the atmosphere of Madsen’s, where she will spend a lot of time cutting fabric up until closing day.

“Dale is optimistic and honest. It is a good place to work,” she said.

It’s also been a good place for the Madsen family. Dale and Pat have seven children and 24 grandchildren, and they fondly remember raising their children while juggling their time being small-business owners. In fact, the Madsens often brought their children to the store to help out with different things.

“When our kids get together they talk about all the stuff we made them do, like stocking yarn, building bikes, inventory, and building trampolines on Christmas Eve,” Pat said.

Although owning your own business is tough and isn’t something you do if you want to be a millionaire, it has its advantages, the couple said.

“Dale has been able to take the time to coach basketball and baseball,” Pat said.

Now, although Dale and Pat plan to keep their trampoline and swing set business open, they will be able to visit their family more.

“When it’s time to retire, you just know,” Pat said.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Remodeling permit issued for Black Bear Diner on 17th Street

The Black Bear Diner in Chubbuck, which opened earlier this year.
Looks like work has finally started on converting the Rusio’s building at 1610 E. 17th Street to a Black Bear Diner. In addition to the chain link fence around the work site, city records show a commercial remodel permit, applied for Aug. 12, was issued on Tuesday.

The general contractor on the 458,104 square-foot project is Bateman Hall. There is no set date for an opening yet. The space has been vacant since Rusio’s closed in 2015, but developer Shane Murphy of Venture One Properties announced in May he had lined up Black Bear, a company based in Redding, Calif., which already has a restaurant in Chubbuck.

The chain dates back to 1994 in Mount Shasta, Calif., when it was founded by Bob and Laurie Manley with help from Bruce Dean.  The franchise has grown to more than 76 locations in eight western states, including two in Idaho, in Boise and Chubbuck. Black Bear Diner was recognized in 2015 by Franchise Times as one of the smartest growing brands.

Black Bear features a rustic motif with "over-the-top bear paraphernalia". Every restaurant is decorated with a 12-foot-tall black bear carving by artist Ray Schulz. Additional murals and artwork are created for each restaurant by Steve and Gary Fitzgerald and Colleen Mitchell-Veyna.

The menu format mimics an old newspaper titled, “The Black Bear Gazette,” with articles on the front page. It offers family meals such as breakfast, burgers, salads, and shakes. Pies, bread and cobblers are prepared on site.

For a full menu and additional information, visit blackbeardiner.com.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Angel Fund reps to visit Idaho Falls Nov. 2

Kevin Learned, Mark Roberts and Vina Rathbone from the Gem State Angel Fund will be coming to Idaho Falls Nov. 2 to talk about the possibilities for angel investment in eastern Idaho.

The Gem State Angel Fund is a state-wide angel fund that claims as its mission investment in promising start-up companies from across the state. It is being organized by the Boise Angel Alliance, which was founded in 2004, a time when entrepreneurial activity in the Treasure Valley was anemic. The BAA not only created capital, but also became one of the prime encouragers of entrepreneurial activity. Members provided coaching and worked with other entrepreneurial support groups to further develop entrepreneurs.

Twelve years and three funds later, there is a entrepreneurial support system in place including many government and private programs, several entrepreneurial co-working facilities, and residential incubators.
Just as accelerators and incubators foster the development of novice entrepreneurs, angel funds incubate new angels. By participating in an angel fund, members learn best practices alongside more experienced angels, and reduce their risk through a diversified portfolio.

The Gem State Angel Fund is an investment fund seeking to pool the capital resources of accredited investors and invest those resources in early or pre-revenue stage companies located within Idaho. The fund’s objective will be to promote business and economic development in the region while providing its members with the potential for investment returns. The fund is selling up to 40 units of membership interest at $50,000 per unit.

The event in Idaho Falls is being sponsored by Key Bank, Research & Business Development Center, Moffat Thomas and the Idaho Small Business Development Center. To register, follow this link: Gem State Angel Fund Event Tickets.

Friday, October 21, 2016

City Bagel & Bakery now open in downtown Idaho Falls

City Bagel & Bakery, now open, involved extensive remodeling of an old downtown property.
It took a lot longer than they anticipated, but Lynn and Gene Winter and their family have opened City Bagel & Bakery in the 101-year-old Shane Building, at the corner of Shoup Avenue and A Street.

This is the space formerly occupied by Lily’s Consignment. With 1,200 square feet for the dining area (on two levels) and 800 for the kitchen, the overhaul has been a top-to-bottom enterprise. They tore out three ceilings and peeled away decades’ worth of changes. The only things remaining from Lily’s are two dressing rooms, which are now used for airbrushing cakes.

The Winters are joined in the business by their daughters Jill, who handles payroll and human resources, and Angie Suseno, who works in the kitchen, son-in-law Sigit Suseno, son Michael and chef Martie Jaramillo. They are serving bagels and baked goods, developing a menu for soups and sandwiches and waiting on a beer and wine license.

They wanted special for their coffee and landed upon Gillie’s Coffee Co., one of New York City's oldest and most successful coffee merchants. If you’ve never seen nitro coffee on tap, this is your chance.

The bakery opened Oct. 15 with a blessing from their pastor at St. John Lutheran Church. They are looking forward to a grand opening sometime later this year.

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.

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, and she started looking at locations in earnest in 2013. “We’re really happy to be downtown,” she said.

JFoster & Associates earns special small business certification

Julie Foster
JFoster & Associates, a small business located in Idaho Falls, has been accepted into a federal program that makes it eligible to compete for and receive certain federal contracts and receive business development assistance.

The designation under the 8(a) Small Business Development program opens many new doors for JFA, said owner Julie Foster.

The 8(a) program was created to help underrepresented small business owners break into government contracting and give them assistance and resources. It involves a rigorous application process and usually takes two years to qualify. Foster managed to gain certification in a year and a half because she had more than 25 years in the construction, energy, and engineering industries, where she worked in contract, project, and program management. She also has a strong business development background. She opened JFoster & Associates, LLC in March of 2015.

Foster has also been highly involved in civic organizations and committees that benefit her community, and was recently named to the State of Idaho Strategic Energy Alliance  Communication and Outreach Task Force.

She was raised in Pocatello, and has lived in Idaho Falls for the past 15 years. She is a graduate of Idaho State University, and her sons are attending College of Idaho and Boise State University.

“I love Idaho and want to continue to serve and give back to my community wherever I can.  I want to help secure a better future for our kids and the next generations.”

The 8(a) program works in two phases over nine years and offers specialized business training, counseling, and marketing assistance and the opportunity to receive sole-source contracts. Additionally, the Woman-Owned Small Business federal contract program authorizes contracting officers to set aside certain federal contracts for eligible small businesses owned by women.

“These are amazing programs, and we are honored to be a part of them,” Foster said. Foster is excited about the certification and the doors and opportunities it allows for her business. Her focus has been on local business, including the Idaho National Laboratory and the Idaho Cleanup Project, but the program will enable her to launch into larger prime contracts for the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Exodus Escape Rooms opening on Park Avenue

Jennifer and Steve Jones
Steve and Jennifer Jones are getting ready to open what will be a first for Idaho Falls, Exodus Escape Rooms, at 387 Park Avenue.

An escape room is a physical adventure game in which players are locked in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a set time limit. Inspired by "escape the room" video games, they started in Asia about 10 years ago, spread to Europe and eventually the United States. Games are set in a variety of fictional locations, such as prison cells, dungeons and space stations, and are popular as team building exercises.

The Joneses said they had fun participating in escape rooms in Utah and California, and saw the field was wide open in Idaho Falls. “We wanted to give people the opportunity to connect with each other,” said Jennifer Jones. They are looking at opening Nov. 1, and are busy remodeling two rooms.

Nobody gets locked up in either room, it’s more of a race against time. The first room, “The Family Jewels,” for two to eight players, involves playing at being cat burglars assigned to break into “Great Auntie’s” house, find her fortune and escape with it within an hour, because the alarm has notified the police. The second room, “Contagion,” involves preventing a mad scientist from releasing a deadly virus onto the world. It has to be found and extracted within an hour.

The scenarios can accommodate two to eight players. “We’re just looking to provide something for date night that’s different from dinner and a movie,” Jennifer Jones said.

Jennifer was working at Biolife International before embarking on this small business adventure. Steve remains employed by the Sleep Center at Mountain View Hospital.

To learn more or book an engagement, visit the web site at Exodus Escape Rooms. The Facebook page can be found here.