Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Deadline nearing for parade registration

The Idaho Falls Fourth of July Parade has been going strong since the mid-'70s. 
Here’s a reminder that if you’re planning to be part of the Idaho Falls Fourth of July parade, you’ve got until June 1 to register.

Organized and executed by the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce, the parade kicks off at 9 a.m. For as long as anyone can remember, more than 100 floats have participated in the parade.

The Fourth falls this year on a Tuesday. The theme for this year’s parade is “Guardians of Freedom.” It starts on Fourth Street and John Adams Parkway and ends at Tautphaus Park.

Volunteers are still needed to help guide and direct floats the morning of the parade. If you are interested in helping with the parade, please email: programs@idahofallschamber.com, or call (208) 523-1010 ext. 1004.

There is a $50 parade entry fee and an additional $50 if you want to distribute candy or flyers.
To download the entry form, follow this link: https://idahofallschamber.com/4th-of-july-parade-registration-form/

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pachanga's moving to A Street, across from Colonial Theater

It looks like Pachangas' move to 439 A Street is on, according to Randy Waters, managing director of SVN High Desert Commercial, who helped handle the real estate transaction.

Pachanga's owner Antonio Meza of Pachangas applied to the Idaho Falls Building Department on March 8 for a building permit to remodel the property, and a peek inside this week show extensive remodeling is indeed going on.

Originally on Capital Avenue across from the Bonneville County Courthouse, Pachangas has been at the corner of Park Avenue and B Street for several years. A great location, to be sure -- consider that Alive After 5 is right across the street from May to September -- but Meza said things were set in motion early this year when his landlord, Thomas Development, the owner of the Earl Building, told him they had a new tenant interested in their space.

He then learned that Jerry and Jeannie Frazzell were looking for a buyer for their property, which had been remodeled as Black Rock Fine Wines and Craft Beer in 2015. Black Rock's lease was up at the end of March, which put owner Chuck Chute in a scramble pattern, but by the end of March he had moved his operation to343 Park Avenue, next door to the Samoa Club.

As for the Park Avenue property, there is a Thonton Oliver Keller sign in the window. We'll be keeping an eye on what happens there as well as at Pachanga's new digs.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Deseret Book building new store on Pioneer Road

We got a question about the edifice going up just south of the Utah Avenue Wal-Mart, the type of question we’re always happy to oblige.

The building, at 750 Pioneer Road, will be the new home of Deseret Book, and it is going up in a hurry. The permit was applied for March 9 and issued April 11. Plans filed with the city of Idaho show a total square-footage of 105,443 and a valuation (based on that square footage) of $404,365.

Deseret Book has been located for years, at 950 Memorial Drive, near the newly-reopened Idaho Falls LDS Temple. There is also a store in the Ammon Town Center.

The Deseret Book company dates back to 1919, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Deseret Management Corp., the holding company for business firms owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In addition to running a chain of stores in the western United States, Deseret Book publishes under four imprints with media ranging from works explaining LDS theology and doctrine, LDS-related fiction, electronic resources, and sound recordings such as Mormon Tabernacle Choir albums.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Downtown Development board names new executive director

Catherine Smith
Catherine Smith has been selected as executive director of the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation.

A fourth-generation Idahoan, Smith was previously eastern region director for the Idaho Community Foundation, where she helped families, businesses and community-minded establish charitable funds, and directed grants managed by the foundation. She has worked for Idaho Falls Arts Council and the Idaho Commission on the Arts as a regional public art advisor. She is an active member of the non-profit community, serves on a handful of local non-profit boards, and volunteers regularly for the Idaho Falls Zoo. She was named Distinguished Under 40 in 2013 and is a graduate of the Chamber Leadership Idaho Falls program.

Smith is coming to IFDDC just as two keystone projects downtown are about to get under way: the Oppenheimer Groups’ development of the Kelsch property at Memorial Drive and Broadway, where Savings Center used to be, and the rehabilitation of the Bonneville Hotel. Other downtown projects are in various stages of planning.

Smith is a graduate of the Art Institute of Portland, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. “I’m proud to be a part of this organization and am quite excited to work with the IFDDC board and downtown folks to continue to build for the future of downtown Idaho Falls,” she said.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Downtown Fire Station #1 opens doors

The crowd Monday at the dedication of Idaho Falls' new downtown fire station.
Monday was a big day for the Idaho Falls Fire Department and the city itself, as the new $4.3 million Downtown Fire Station #1 opened its doors at 343 E Street.

“The address, 343, has a significant meaning to us as it signifies the number of firefighters who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. We are here today to dedicate this station in their honor,” said Fire Chief Dave Hanneman, in remarks that preceded the department’s Color Guard and Pipes and Drums.

The building is the long-overdue replacement for Station #1, which had been on the Shoup Avenue side of City Hall since 1930, when Herbert Hoover was president. Insufficient room for modern equipment, claustrophobic conditions, and a crack in the floor were identified for decades as problems that could not be fixed, yet it wasn’t until 2014 that the City Council voted to proceed with a new station.

Planning for the new station began in April 2015, and ground was broken on Jan. 8, 2016. The General Contractor for the new 24,000 square foot facility was Morgan Construction, with design provided by CRSA Architecture. The total cost of the building was $4.1 million, which came in under the $4.3 million guaranteed price given by Morgan Construction.

For the first time in 35 years, the Fire Prevention Bureau and ladder truck are at the same location as the administrative staff.  At full capacity, the new station will also be living quarters for 11 firefighters.  The new station is a fully ADA compliant building with elevators. The administrative staff occupy the first floor, along with a training room that also functions as a City Coordination Center (CCC). The CCC seats 50 people and can be reserved by other city departments and community members.

There are two sets of double bays. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) turnout room, located near the bays, is a state-of-the-art area with a ventilation system allowing fumes and contaminants to vent outside of the building, protecting firefighters and the facility.  
Upstairs is the living quarters for firefighters, captains and battalion chiefs. Firefighters are on shift 48 hours at a time, with up to 11 crew members, so the living quarters function similar to a house.  There are dorm rooms, showers, a dining room, kitchen, day room, training room with computers, and an exercise room. Firefighters are required to exercise for at least one hour per day to stay conditioned.

The brains of the building is an alert system with interconnectivity to dispatch. “During an emergency, the alert system will progressively wake pertinent personnel by turning on lights, followed by sound and voice, thereby reducing their heart rates upon notification,” Hanneman said. When the alert system goes off, EMS crews have less than 1 minute to get out on the call from anywhere in the building. Fire calls are less than 1 minute 20 seconds.

The central response area with monitors and radios is located near the pole leading down to the bays, giving crews up-to-date information before they get in the trucks and go on the call.

Monitors throughout the building also feed live call data to the firefighters, constantly keeping them informed of emergencies. The monitors in the fire prevention offices on the first floor display building plans, allowing staff to coordinate and discuss planning documents.

Monday, April 24, 2017

INL recognizes researchers, inventors at annual banquet

Cliff Davis, 2016 winner of INL
Lifetime Achievement Award
Idaho National Laboratory held its annual Laboratory Director Awards reception Friday night, celebrating achievements of 2016 and honoring researchers for their work. Thirty newly issued patents and two copyright assertions were recognized.

Award recipients were:

  • Community Award: David Snell 

  • Leadership Award: Yongfeng Zhang 

  • Mission Advancement Award: Richard Barney Carlson 

  • Mission Enabling Individual Award: Todd Taylor 

  • Mission Enabling Team Award: TREAT Safety Basis Team: James R. Parry, Anthony W. LaPorta, Charles P. Forshee, Doug Gerstner, Leslie A. Roberts 

  • Early Career Exceptional Achievement Award: Vivek Agarwal 

  • Exceptional Engineering Achievement Award: Shelly X. Li 

  • Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award: Robert V. Fox 

  • Lifetime Achievement in Science and Technology Award: Cliff B. Davis 

  • Outstanding Impact Award: Michael W. Snyder 

  • Research Technician of the Year Award: Cathy Rae 

  • Support Technician of the Year Award: Shaun Clements 

  • Inventor of the Year Award: Michael McKellar 

  • INL Vision Award: Radiological Security Source Disposition Team: Kathryn A. McBride, David L. Parks, John C. Zarling 

  • INL Vision Award: High-Value, High-Precision, High-Profile and High-Risk Machining Work Scope Team: Rex C. Buttars, William C. Fuger, Cory V. Jones, Ricky D. Popejoy, Mark D. Steffler 

  • INL Vision Award: Small Modular Reactor Deployment Team: Shannon M. Bragg-Sitton, George W. Griffith, James C, Kinsey, Corey K. McDaniel, Michael W Patterson 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Snake River Landing announces new project for entertainment, special events

An artist's rendering of what the new special event center at Snake River Landing will look like. 
Snake River Landing announced Thursday it is planning to open a new entertainment and special event facility this summer. This is the "Project X" BizMojo Idaho mentioned in a March 7 post after seeing the building permit application had been filed with the Idaho Falls Building Department.

A 9,000-square-foot building on approximately 4.5 acres near the Snake River, the facility is now under construction. When completed, it will feature a large indoor area for parties and special events and an extensive outdoor event area. Large, roll-up style doors are planned, to turn the indoor space into an extended indoor/outdoor venue. A 1,500-square-foot performance stage can be used for indoor or outdoor events as well.

For major outdoor events (such as the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration on July 4, as the fireworks are going to be at Snake River Landing this year for the first time), there will be an expansive 1.5-acre grass area adjacent to the building. A 1,700-square-foot kitchen area for caterer use during special events is part of the plan. All in all, the multi-purpose facility is designed to be flexible to the needs of a variety of events, including corporate gatherings, live performances, luncheons, non-profit events and community events.

The construction of the new facility is taking place in the newest phase of development within Snake River Landing known as Riverside Village. Located near the popular walking trail that encircles a 3.5-acre lake, it is a mixed-use area laid out to include retail shops, restaurants, and other entertainment establishments.

“As this area has grown over the years, we have received continual inquiries for medium sized event space,” said Eric Isom, chief development officer for Snake River Landing. “We look forward to operating a facility that can allow for year-around Snake River Landing events, as well as being able to offer it for private rental.”

The new facility will be owned and operated by an affiliate of Snake River Landing, which is owned and operated by Ball Ventures. The following local businesses have been involved in the design and construction: NBW Architects, Horrocks Engineers, Wind River Construction, HK Contractors and Seasons West.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Idaho National Laboratory awards STEM grants to Idaho schools

Idaho National Laboratory has awarded two eastern Idaho schools with Ultimate STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) grants, worth up to $10,000, to enhance and supplement their STEM learning  In addition, four Extreme Classroom Makeover grants worth up to $5,000 were awarded in southeast Idaho. Statewide, 19 STEM Mini grants worth up to $500 were awarded.

Teachers and principals from public and private schools throughout the state apply each year for INL STEM grants, which are awarded based on the educator’s plan, idea or classroom needs to bolster STEM education. The money can be used to purchase equipment and materials for classrooms.

“Too often, educators and administrators are not aware of the funding opportunities available in their own backyard,” said Amy Lientz, INL’s director of Partnerships, Engagement and Technology Deployment. “This type of funding allows for furthering student interest in STEM careers and helps to grow our talent pipeline, enabling a sustainable future workforce.”

Ultimate STEM Grant recipients are:

Chase Crook, Rigby Middle School, Rigby: $10,000, to purchase life science materials for the classroom.

Kristoffer Smith, Longfellow Elementary School, Idaho Falls: $9,987.07, to create a Makers Space for STEM at the school.

Classroom Makeover Grant recipients are:

Jared Gee, Sugar-Salem High School: $4,949.57, to re-image the Sugar-Salem High School science lab for chemistry and biology.

Troy Easterday, Castleford School District 417: $5,000, to purchase materials to teach energy efficiency in rural towns.

Heidi McJunkin, Snake River Montessori School: $1,046, to purchase a classroom set of computer coding curriculum.

Leslie Woodford, Pocatello Valley Montessori School: $1,000, to purchase a classroom set of complex math manipulatives to teach STEM.

"Getting students excited about STEM is critical to the future of INL, Idaho and the nation as a whole," said Anne Seifert, INL's manager of K-12 STEM outreach. "Today's students are tomorrow's scientists, engineers and technicians. Grants like these provide our teachers with the tools and resources they need to educate, prepare and spark student interest in STEM careers, and give them hands-on experience in STEM subjects that spark their passion for STEM that can drive innovation."

The Ultimate STEM grants, Extreme Classroom Makeover grants and STEM Mini grants are part of INL's effort to boost STEM education in Idaho. Funding for the grants comes from Battelle Energy Alliance, a nonprofit organization that operates the lab for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

This year's STEM Mini Grant recipients are:

Idaho Falls/eastern Idaho
Nathasia Christensen of Temple View Elementary, Idaho Falls: $274.50 to fund a classroom STEM garden.

Donna McCurdy, Arco Elementary: $444.91 for a classroom set of RAFT kits to teach physics and engineering.

Chris Brown, Parker-Egin Elementary: $500 to fund a family STEM night.

Sheila Jardine, Howe Elementary: $499.93 for coding materials for engineering and design.

Cathy LeDosquet, Teton Elementary: $500 for a classroom set of bins with math and engineering materials.

Cinnimon Schwartz, Malad Elementary: $450 for a classroom set of STEM engineering design kits.

EIRMC earns high hospital safety score from national organization

Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center has received its fifth consecutive “A” grade in the biannual Hospital Safety Score published by The Leapfrog Group. EIRMC is also the only hospital in Southeast Idaho to earn an “A” grade.    The designation recognizes exceptional performance in consistently meeting evidence-based patient safety guidelines.

“We have so many things to be proud of at EIRMC and our continued achievement of the Hospital Safety ‘A’ grade is one of them,” EIRMC CEO Doug Crabtree said in a press release. “This rating confirms our commitment to patient safety and quality car.  We have such a strong partnership between physicians and clinical staff as they work toward these important goals.”

The Spring 2017 assessment included more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals. An “A” grade recognizes exemplary performance in consistently meeting national evidence-based guidelines that ensure patient safety.

The Hospital Safety Score was compiled under the guidance of the nation’s leading experts on patient safety and is designed to give the public information they can use to educate themselves and their families.

Calculated in collaboration with The Leapfrog Group’s nine-member Blue Ribbon Expert Panel, the Hospital Safety Score compiles 26 measures of publicly available hospital safety data into a single “grade.” That score represents any hospital’s overall capacity to keep patients safe from infections and injuries as well as medical and medication errors.

To see EIRMC’s scores as they compare nationally and locally, visit the Hospital Safety Score website at www.hospitalsafetyscore.org. This site also provides information on how the public can protect themselves and loved ones during a hospital stay.

EIRMC has several initiatives aimed at safety, including:

  • Computer medication management: ensures that patients are given the right medicine, in the right dosage, and at the right time. Every hospitalized patient wears a bar-coded bracelet that the nursing staff scans every time medications are administered. 
  • Computerized Physician Order Entry: electronically processes physician orders for patient care. This tool has proven to reduce inaccuracies that may result from illegible handwriting, decrease medical errors, reduce costs — and ultimately save lives.
  • Multidisciplinary safety committees: broaden the scope and depth of experience and knowledge brought to patient safety improvement initiatives
  • Participation in a Joint Commission project to reduce surgical site infections
  • Yearly safety training: all employees and volunteers are required to complete this course and pass a detailed test.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

INL names new associate lab director for energy, environment, science, techology

Todd E. Combs
Todd E. Combs, presently the director of Argonne National Laboratory’s Global Security Sciences Division, will be coming May 1 to be Idaho National Laboratory’s associate lab director for Energy and Environment Science & Technology (EES&T).

At Argonne, Combs has led a multidisciplinary research team of over 200, working on preventing and responding to national and global security threats. Before that he spent nearly 14 months as Argonne’s interim associate laboratory director for Energy and Global Security, where he led an applied R&D organization of over 800 that addressed domestic and global sustainable energy and security issues. In that role, he oversaw research and operational activities of the energy systems, nuclear engineering, and global security sciences divisions.

He has managed Argonne’s advanced grid modeling program for DOE, and its relationship with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, he was an operations research scientist and served as group leader of the Transportation Planning and Decision Science group.

Combs’ research has included energy systems modeling and analysis for DOE, most recently related to critical materials supply chains. He has worked on modeling and simulation projects Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.

He holds a doctorate in operations research and master’s degree in operations analysis from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Title One adds Krisi Staten as business strategist

Krisi Staten

Kerry Berry
TitleOne has added Krisi Staten as its new business strategist. Staten comes from the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation, where she has been executive director sine July 2014. Before that, she was a benefits specialist for Idaho National Laboratory. A native of Arco, she has extensive service on the boards of various eastern Idaho service organizations.

Also at TitleOne, Kerry Berry has teamed up with Heather Elverud as her escrow assistant.

TitleOne is a local title and escrow company serving western and eastern Idaho since 2000. Its offices are located at 1614 Elk Creek Drive. Its web address is http://www.titleonecorp.com/.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

New director named to head Center for Advanced Energy Studies

Dr. Noël Bakhtian
Noël Bakhtian has been named the new director of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, the research and education consortium between Boise State University, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho State University, University of Idaho and University of Wyoming.

The announcement was made Tuesday by INL Director Mark Peters, who cited her experience in energy policy and technology. Bakhtian will start May 15, replacing Mike Hagood, who has been interim director since last fall.

Bakhtian most recently served as senior policy advisor for environment and energy in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Prior to that, she was the inaugural Energy-Water Nexus lead at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of International Affairs. She was technical lead on several grant programs for DOE’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Office,  and consulted on energy research and development and investment for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

While pursuing her master’s and doctorate from Stanford University’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, she did most of her research at NASA’s Ames Research Center, in its advanced computing division, coming up with new entry, descent and landing technology for Mars missions. After getting her Ph.D., she won an AAAS Energy and Environment Fellowship and worked in the office of U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

Bakhtian also holds a master’s degree in engineering from Cambridge University, where she was a Churchill Scholar. Her research there involved unmanned ariel vehicles, gathering data from bird flight patterns in wind tunnels. Her bachelor’s degree is from Duke University, where she was a Pratt Fellow.

Bakhtian is a trustee of the Summer Science Program, a science education non-profit organization, and is the energy and environment associate editor for the Science & Diplomacy Journal.

“Dr. Bakhtian’s energy policy and technical experiences span the programmatic portfolio of CAES,” Peters said in a press release. “She will help forward the CAES mission of conducting advanced energy research, educating the next generation of scientists and engineers, and partnering with industry to advance our regional competitiveness.”

For a November 2016 interview Bakhtian gave the website chroniclevitae.com, follow this link: From Bench Science to Senior Policy Advising: An Interview With Noel Bakhtian.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

INL releases new open source software

This is probably going to be a little esoteric to those who come here wondering when, if ever, Costco is coming to Idaho Falls. But here goes.

Idaho National Laboratory has released a new open-source software free to the public on the lab’s GitHub website. The Risk Analysis and Virtual Environment (RAVEN) framework will be available for collaboration with the public to refine and improve the functionality of the system, to join forces with other researchers to expand the feature set, and to give industry a powerful and useful tool for accelerating technological advances.

RAVEN is a unique and powerful tool for risk analysis, offering capabilities not currently available in other software. It offers a fully integrated working environment, providing engineers and scientists new abilities to tackle challenging problems efficiently.

Operations such as analysis, data mining and model optimization can be performed based on the response of complex physical models through advanced statistical sampling generation, generating a high degree of realism and accuracy.

Monday, April 3, 2017

This week in history

My grandfather, Harry A. Menser, in 1918. He was already 30 when the United States entered World War I, this week in 1917. He was the grandson of a Civil War Union soldier himself.
Looking Back now runs in the Sunday Post Register. This is the column that ran in the April 2, 2017 issue. The United States entered World War I on April 5, 1917, but Company M from eastern Idaho was already on the move.

100 years ago
The day after President Woodrow Wilson's April 2, 1917 call to Congress for a declaration of war against Germany, businesses in Idaho Falls closed at noon and schools emptied so the community could bid farewell to the 138 men of Company M, bound for Boise on April 4. "The ranks of the local company have been added to largely by recruits from Roberts, Rexburg, Menan, Rigby, Shelley, Blackfoot and other nearby points and many from out in the county and adjoining counties," the Idaho Register said. Levi E. Lundberg was notified from headquarters in Boise that he was receiving a captain's commission. Other commissioned officers were to be chosen when the company arrived.

75 years ago
Idaho Falls was determined to get serious about enforcing traffic laws this week in 1942, as evidenced by a Page One editorial in the Post Register, which said, "There will be a few days of education, a few days of warnings in police court, and then there will be strict enforcement with attendant fines. ... A bad condition, made bad by the failure of previous administrations to do anything, has been greatly aggravated by the large number of bicycles that have come into the picture in the last few months. ... Strict enforcement will gripe a good many people who are not accustomed to being told they must observe stop signs, red lights, speed limits and other regulations needed to guarantee the orderly flow of traffic in a thriving city. But strict enforcement is necessary, and the Post-Register is happy to see the administration stiffen up."

50 years ago
A final decision on awarding the contract for the construction of Skyline High School was expected this week in April 1967. The Idaho Falls School District Board of Trustees met for two hours on April 1 with the architects, Lawrence E. Matson and Associates, accountant Gilbert Karst and attorney William S. Holden, in an attempt to hold the building's costs within the bounds of legal and financial possibility. With $2.6 million in hand, the district estimated it was $57,000 short of the amount they needed to have before the contract could be let to Taysom Construction of Pocatello, low bidders on the project.

25 years ago
Some buildings were closed this week in 1992 at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory's Chemical Processing Plant as crews from Westinghouse Idaho Nuclear Co. cleaned up radioactive flakes accidentally released from a smokestack on April 2. No ICPP workers were contaminated during the radiation alert. Officials said the solid, slightly radioactive materials were limited to an area of about 250 square yards.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Fin Fun officers named Idaho Small Business Persons of the year.

Fin Fun, an Idaho Falls company founded in 2010, sells swimmable mermaid tails in more than 180 countries.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has named Eric Browning, CEO, and Steve Browning, chief financial officer, of Fin Fun its 2017 Idaho Small Business Persons of the Year. The company markets swimmable mermaid tails and other products in more than 180 countries.

Fin Fun started as a home project in 2009, when Karen Browning of St. Anthony got a puzzling request from her granddaughter Emily, to make her a mermaid tail. "Having sewn for over 50 years, I laughed and said, 'I don't know how to make mermaid tails,'" she told BizMojo Idaho in 2014. "Well, she soon showed me that by ingenuity and working together, we could do it."

Using spandex swimsuit material and rigid material for the fin, Browning applied her sewing skills to the project. "It proved so popular as she and her sister Sarah swam in them that soon her friends were asking where they could get their very own tail," Browning said. She knew she was onto something. She began selling them on eBay and set up a store on Etsy.

As demand took off, Browning’s sons Eric and Steve, came back to eastern Idaho to run the company. Sales have increased from an average of 200 mermaid tails per month in 2011 to more than 500,000 mermaid tails sold in 2016. In addition to tails, the line includes a patented monofin, swimwear, animal blankets and other accessories. Fin Fun also has used the Internet imaginatively, offering finfriends.com, a page with "Mermaiden Tales," games, videos, contests and giveaways.

In 2015, the company moved to a 10,000-square-foot building on Lewisville Highway, acquired with an SBA CDC/504 loan.

“The Small Business Person of the Year Award is an opportunity to recognize the impact small business owners have on our local economy,” SBA Boise Acting District Director Shannon Madsen said. “Fin Fun has created more than 75 full-time and part-time jobs for the Idaho Falls area. I am honored to celebrate these dedicated, hard-working small business owners who are using innovation and creativity to make a difference in Idaho.”

Eric and Steve Browning have made a point of giving back to children’s causes, and Fin Fun has given a percentage of its profits to more than 18 charitable organizations annually for the past five years.

Small Business Person of the Year winners from 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam will converge in Washington, D.C. in May, when one of them will be selected as the National Small Business Person of the Year during the SBA celebration of National Small Business Week April 30-May 6, 2017.

A celebration honoring the SBA Idaho Small Business Persons of the Year will be May 5 in Idaho Falls, as part of National Small Business Week, which is held every May to recognize small business owners who demonstrate staying power. Winners must have been in business three years and shown growth in net worth and business expansion, increase in jobs and sales, innovativeness of products or services, response to adversity, and contributions to community-oriented projects.

“Steve and I are honored to be recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as Idaho’s Small Business Persons of the Year,” Eric Browning said. “We are grateful for our company’s rapid revenue growth and ongoing success.”

For more information about National Small Business Week, visit www.sba.gov/nsbw.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Black Rock moving to Park Avenue location, plans opening Thursday

Black Rock owner Chuck Chute at his new location
Saturday night was Black Rock Fine Wine and Craft Beer's last night at 439 A Street, where it has been for two years. It is preparing to open Thursday at a new, smaller location, at 343 Park Avenue, next door to the Samoa Club.

Owner Chuck Chute admitted that the move took him by surprise, but that his lease on A Street was up at the end of March. When the building’s owners, Jerry and Jeannie Frazzel, told him they had a prospective buyer for it he didn’t have much choice other than to relocate.

There are indications that Pachanga’s may be moving there. Panchanga’s owner Antonio Meza applied to the Idaho Falls Building Department on March 8 for a remodeling permit, and the permit was issued March 22. Meza said he started looking for a new location when Thomas Development, the owner of the Earl Building, where Pachanga’s has been for several years, told him they had a new tenant interested in their space.

Despite the smaller square-footage, Chute said he is trying to bring as much of what he’s done with Black Rock on A Street along with him to Park Avenue. The remodeling has been extensive, and the race is on to get it open by Thursday.

In some ways, being on the same block as The Celt Pub, Villa Coffeehouse, Samoa Club and Karen’s Park Avenue Club is going to have some advantages. “I really like the space,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A new franchise possibility for Idaho Falls?

The Pizza Press in Pasadena, Calif. The chain has announced plans to expand, possibly into Idaho.
It’s been kind of slow on the franchise restaurant front — a source of endless fascination for BizMojo readers, I know — but I ran across this in PR Newswire this morning and thought it might be a live one for any enterprising would-be franchisee.

According to the report, The Pizza Press Marks Fifth Anniversary With Plans for Nearly 150 New Stores & International Expansion by End of 2018,
The Pizza Press, a company based in Anaheim, Calif., is planning 30 new openings this year, including locations in Texas (Austin), Nevada (Las Vegas) and North Carolina (Chapel Hill, Raleigh). “The company is actively looking to expand into Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and Canada,” it says.

So there you have it. Does the greater Idaho Falls area need another pizza restaurant, you ask? Silly! There’s always room for one more.

Should the chain ever come here, it will be the second restaurant with a newspaper theme. Black Bear Diner, which opened earlier this year, also goes with this gimmick. As a former newspaper person who can actually remember the sensation of banging on a manual typewriter, I find this sort of cute but mostly sad.

Anyway, The Pizza Press. You first heard of them here.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Iteris opening office in downtown Earl Building

Iteris' Vantage Vector detection sensor
Iteris, Inc., a company based in Santa Ana, Calif., that specializes in traffic management and agricultural systems, is opening an Idaho Falls office in the Earl Building on Park Avenue. Development of the project has been managed by Thomas Investments and Thomas Development Co. of Boise.

Dating back to 1969, Iteris is the global leader in applied informatics for transportation and agriculture, collecting, aggregating and analyzing data on traffic, roads, weather, water, soil and crops to generate precise informatics that lead to safer transportation and smarter farming.

Its markets roadway sensors and vehicle detection systems for traffic intersection control and traffic data collection. Its products include Vantage series video detection system (such as VantageView, Vantage Vector), SmartSpan and SmartCycle, VersiCam, Pico, and Abacus.

In addition, the company’s transportation systems segment focuses on transportation engineering and consulting services, information systems and decision support systems. Its iPerform segment is concentrated on transportation performance measurement. In 2013, the company launched SmartCycle, which can detect vehicles and bicycles accurately with a single video detection camera facing a dedicated approach.

In agiculture, Iteris produces systems that process weather and agronomic data with land-surface modeling and machine learning to help farmers and agronomists simulate field conditions and determine how new products may perform on a crop. Growers can leverage the company's ClearAg Advisories to determine best times to plant, spray, fertilize and harvest.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

EIRMC, Blue Cross of Idaho, reach 'in network' agreement on private, ACA policies

Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center and Blue Cross of Idaho have reached an agreement that significantly impacts consumers who purchased Blue Cross of Idaho individual health coverage either privately or on the Idaho Healthcare Exchange. These two Blue Cross products are known as “Hometown East” and “Connected Care.”

There are two important elements to this agreement:

  • Emergency services provided at EIRMC will be covered as an in-network benefit. This includes basic ER care; intensive care (ICU); pediatric intensive care (PICU) for children; neonatal care (NICU) for babies; and emergency surgery as a result of an ER visit. ( EIRMC is the only hospital in Idaho Falls with Emergency Services, and the only hospital in the state with a Level I ICU.)
  • All other referral -based services obtained at EIRMC will be covered as in-network by Blue Cross of Idaho. Examples include -- but are not limited to -- maternity services; cancer treatment; cardiovascular services, including heart surgery; medical imaging procedures such as X-Ray, MRI, CT-scans; mammography; physical therapy; wound care; electro-physiology; stroke care; neurosurgery; in-patient behavioral health care.

Employees with Blue Cross of Idaho insurance through their workplace are not impacted by this change, as they have always been covered as “in network.”

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Two new permit applications for Idaho Falls projects worth watching

Recently we pointed out that the permit action in the city of Idaho Falls Building Office was bound to pick up now that the weather is getting warmer. Since then, two new permits have been applied for that we think ought to be of interest to the ever-patient BizMojo Idaho faithful.

The first, applied for March 3, is for work at 1976 West Broadway, a project called Iron Oak Retail Center, 5,200 square-foot retail building. The job value is estimated at $390,000, and the applicant is  Construction Solutions Co.. The owner is JET Real Estate Holdings, which shares the same Ammon address as Construction Solutions. If you want to see what the city has available online, here’s the link:

Here is more information about the property from LoopNet, including a rendering:

The second permit application, far more tantalizing, perhaps because of its mysterious name — “Project X” — comes from our friends at Snake River Landing Development. It is for new construction at 1220 Event Center Drive. No square footage detailed, but the job value is estimated at $1.1 million, which would indicate it is not the long-anticipated Event Center. We will be staying on top of this one. Permit information is here:

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Greater Idaho Falls Chamber picks new CEO

Robert “Chip” Schwarze has been selected as the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce’s new chief executive officer, starting March 1. Schwarze succeeds Michelle Holt, who stepped down after three years as CEO to accept a position at Eastern Idaho Technical College.

“Chip has extensive experience in leadership, and we are excited about the vision that he will bring to the chamber and our community,” said Eric Hess, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors.

Schwarze most recently worked as district director of the Boy Scouts of America in Olympia, Wash., where he was the lead administrator for three districts covering all of southwestern Washington. A graduate of Brigham Young University-Idaho, he has ties to the Idaho Falls area, as he previously worked as a financial advisor and sales manager in Idaho Falls for several years.

“As a former small business owner, I know what business leaders look for in their chamber,” he said. He and his wife have five grown children, three of whom reside in the Idaho Falls area.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

EIRMC announces Frist Humanitarian, Excellence in Nursing award winners

Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center has announced its Frist Humanitarian Awards, given annually by each Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) hospital. The award is named after the late Dr. Thomas Frist, Sr., HCA’s founder, and given to an employee, physician and volunteer.

EIRMC also announced its Excellence in Nursing Awards recipient, given in two categories: Professional Mentoring and Compassionate Care.

Frist Humanitarian Award (Physician) – Dr. Andrew Garrity, emergency room physician

Dr. Andrew Garrity
Dr. Andrew Garrity is a board-certified emergency medicine physician, and has been a member of the EIRMC medical staff for 18 years. His nomination spoke of his willingness to serve his patients and highlighted that no task is too simple, even getting blankets or drinks for his patients. In his nomination, several stories were offered to illustrate his compassion and kindness.

“A patient we had seen many times before was getting ready to go to jail after his medical clearance. He was a thin man and one who lives a hard life. The patient was standing with his arms cuffed behind his back, no shirt or shoes and pants falling down. As the scene unfolded, some of the ER staff were wondering what the cops were going to do about his pants. Dr. Garrity just walked up, said ‘Partner let’s do up your belt,’ cinched up his belt and walked away. One of the ER staff grinned and said ‘I want to be just like Dr. Garrity.’”

Another time, an older couple came in to receive care one evening. A diagnosis was given and prescriptions written. Upon discussing the plan of care with the patient and his wife, it was brought to light that they were on a limited income and getting these prescriptions would be a huge burden to the patient. Dr. Garrity handed the chart to the nurse and said ‘Please give them this envelope and do not tell them it was from me.’It was money for them to be able to get their prescriptions filled.”

As a Frist Award winner, EIRMC will make a donation in Garrity’s name to his charity of choice, the Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen.

Frist Humanitarian Award (Employee) – Kirie Brown, R.N., director of education & wellness

Kirie Brown
Kirie Brown serves as the director of education and wellness at EIRMC and was nominated by several staff members in her department. Each nomination was unique, but all mentioned how impressed they have been with her dedication to community and global service.

Brown has traveled several times to third world countries to teach neonatal resuscitation to doctors and nurses. To date, she has been to Nepal, China, Belize, Jordan, and parts Africa to teach people life-saving care methods for their infants right after birth. She often uses her own funds to make these trips possible.

As a Frist Award winner, EIRMC will make a donation in Kirie’s name to her charity of choice, the EIRMC Auxiliary.

Frist Humanitarian Award (Volunteer)– Dan Ashworth

Dan Ashworth
Dan Ashworth has been an EIRMC volunteer for four years and has volunteered over 2,300 hours of his time. A former member of the U.S. Navy, he remains passionate about helping his fellow veterans. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Vietnam Veterans of America and also works with several other organizations including the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and the Veterans Mobility Corporation (VMC). At the VMC, Dan helps to provide powered wheelchairs to veterans who would otherwise not have access to them.

While volunteering at EIRMC, Ashworth met the family of a veteran who was undergoing a leg amputation. The veteran would need a powered wheelchair after his recovery but had no means to obtain one. He was able to connect the veteran to VMC and he was given the organization’s 71st wheelchair.

A EIRMC, Ashworth volunteers in the Surgical Waiting Room, where he helps keep families informed of what is going on with their loved ones. This is a key role and provides families with much needed comfort during what would otherwise be a stressful time.

As a Frist Award winner, EIRMC will make a donation in Dan’s name to his charity of choice, the Veterans Mobility Corp.

Excellence in Nursing, Professional Mentoring – Kathy Fatkin, Ph.D, AHIP, R.N., Medical Librarian

Kathy Fatkin
Kathy Fatkin has been the medical librarian at EIRMC for 20 years and is a strong advocate for nursing excellence at EIRMC. She is known for encouraging fellow employees to always continue learning and even pursue advanced degrees
and serves as an exceptional mentor to many of our staff.

Her commitment to continual learning and professional growth led her to seek a doctoral degree in library science. She worked full time during the seven years that it took to finish her program. She spends many hours mentoring individuals who are currently working on advanced degrees. She also makes herself available to any nurse or staff member with clinical questions, assisting them with finding answers and providing patients with the best care possible.

Fatkin serves as the executive sponsor of the research arm of the EIRMC Shared Governance Council and utilizes her knowledge to advance nursing practices throughout the hospital. In so doing, she ensures that policies and decisions are in line with best evidence based practices.

As an Excellence in Nursing winner, EIRMC will make a donation in Fatkin’s name to her charity of choice, the National Park Foundation.

Excellence in Nursing, Compassionate Care – Malinda Barker, R.N.

Malinda Barker
Malinda Barker is a clinical supervisor in the EIRMC Post Anesthesia Care Unit in Perioperative Services. Her nominators described her as a selfless and kind person who cares greatly for her co-workers. She has a reputation for bringing in treats and goodies from her garden on holidays, birthdays, and other days, even on days off.

Her nomination called her a “tireless advocate for her patients.” Because of the area she works, Barker’s patients are coming out of anesthesia and not awake during her interactions with them. Rather than let that stop her, she goes out of her way to make sure each patient has the best experience possible and actively looks for ways to improve each patient’s experience. No job is too small, and nothing is too much to ask of her.

As an Excellence in Nursing winner, EIRMC will make a donation in Barker’s name to her charity of choice, City of Refuge.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"Grid Game" headlines 2017 Engineering Your Future event

The Grid Game got its start as a simulator of the power swing equation created for the Idaho Universities’ Resilient Control Systems class in Fall of 2013.
In recognition of National Engineers Week, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) are sponsoring the Engineering Your Future STEM Workshops and GridGame Competition event today from 4-6:45 p.m. at CAES, 995 University Boulevard.

The event is aimed at local high school and college students, and will feature booths, a prize drawing, the GridGame Competition, and several interactive STEM workshops on subjects including wind energy, electric vehicles, mechanical engineering, virtual reality, unmanned aerial systems and INL internship opportunities.

The GridGame is a desktop simulation developed by INL that allows students to experience what it is like to manage a power grid in the face of adverse conditions. During the competition, players will use the digital control panel simulation to try to obtain the most revenue from their microgrid by optimizing the use of resources (e.g., storage, generation, loads) while combating hackers trying to sabotage their control systems. In addition to competing against each other, teams will try to beat a challenge team led by Jackie Flowers, Idaho Falls Power’s head honcho.

The team with the highest score in the competition round will be invited to attend the Eastern Idaho Engineers Week Banquet Friday at the Idaho Falls Shilo Inn.

National Engineers Week takes place each February during the week of Washington’s birthday, Feb. 22.

For more about the grid game, here’s a story that ran in 2015: GRID GAME TEACHES STUDENTS ABOUT ELECTRIC GRID COMPLEXITY, RESILIENCE.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I.F. building permits applications start accumulating

We know a lot of you check in here to find out what sort of development is going on. With the weather warming up and the snow going away we expect to have more to tell in the coming days.

In the meantime, here is a list of commercial building permits application recorded by the city of Idaho Falls Building Department since the beginning of the year.

COM17-0003: INL Energy Services Lab overhead door removal and infill, 750 University Boulevard
COM17-0004: Sunnyside Place Memory Care Renovation, 3400 South 5th West
COM17-0005: Remodel and wall relocation, 2110 Rollandet Avenue
COM17-0006: Earl Building Iteris Office remodel, 525 North Park Avenue
COM17-0007: Advance Home Care Remodel, 2100 Niagara Street
COM17-0008: EIRMC Imaging Center Remodel, 2860 Channing Way, Unit 123
COM17-0010: TMO L700 Monopole remodel, 325 Briggs Street
COM17-0011: NewU Salon, 1,664 square-foot addition, 2048 E. 17th Street
COM17-0012: Zoo breakroom remodel, 460 Rogers Street
COM17-0014: Dr. Bitter office remodel, 749 Oxford Drive
COM17-0015: Buildout of additional EROB offices, 2525 Fremont Avenue
COM17-0016: B&G Tire remodel to add interior filing room, 265 Northgate Mile
COM17-0018: Parking garage for hospital expansion, 2325 Coronado Street
COM17-0019: HVAC remodel, 2075 North Boulevard

No, we don't know why there are gaps in the numbering. We can ask, if it's important to you.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Java Espress plans March 17 grand opening for Anderson Street shop

Java Espress is planning a March 17 grand opening for its newest shop, at 745 E. Anderson Street, from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.

All 16-oz. drinks will be free that day, including all specialty coffees, chai and flavored sodas. All Javaccinos, Real Fresh fruit smoothies, protein shakes and energy drinks will be 25 percent off.

This is the company’s eighth location. Based in Idaho Falls since 1993, Java Espress is locally owned and operated.

They are introducing a new line of flavored sodas with Nugget ice, and high energy and protein drinks.

The new Anderson location will be open 4:45 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

“I think this NEW Idaho Falls store will be an absolute home run,” said owner and CEO Shane Murphy. “With a location near the Idaho National Laboratory community, our amazing baristas and delicious products, how could it not be? Our team is energized and ready to continue setting the standard for quick service of gourmet beverages.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

NanoSteel closes on new equity investment

It’s a long way from the Snake River to Motor City, but NanoSteel, a company with its roots in Idaho National Laboratory and its R&D department still in Idaho Falls, announced Feb. 13 it has closed on a new round of equity investment led by GM Ventures.

Proceeds from the investment round will be used for the commercialization of NanoSteel’s advanced high strength steel (AHSS) for automotive applications. The financing includes new investments from Lear Corp., a leading automotive seating systems and electrical systems supplier, and SPDG, the leading car importer in Belgium and owner of Belron, the global leader in vehicle glass repair and replacement.

NanoSteel’s corporate headquarters are in Providence, R.I., but the company spun out of INL in 2002. It was founded by Dan Branagan, an INL researcher who led a team in the mid-1990s in the development of Super Hard Steel. When he left the INL, Branagan, now NanoSteel’s chief technical officer, took processes and patents he developed at the lab and spun them out for licensing to industry. The company’s products are used in oil and gas, mining, power generation, and cement and concrete, and it develops metal powders for 3D printers. He was recognized the 2002 Forbes Special Anniversary Big  Ideas Issue as “one of the important innovators of our time, one of 15 people who will reinvent the future,” and was selected by Massachusetts Institute of Technology as one of the top 100 “brilliant young innovators” in the world whose work will have “a deep impact on how we live, work, and think in the century to come.”

But Branagan said in 2016 that lightweight steel was always his ultimate goal. In 2012, General Motors Ventures LLC bought a stake in the company. "Over the next several years, light-weighting of vehicles will be a major focus area to improve fuel economy," said Jon Lauckner, GM's chief technology officer, vice president of Global R&D and president of GM Ventures. "NanoSteel's nano-structured alloys offer unique material characteristics that are not available today, making them a potential game-changer."

Commercial scale qualification of Advanced High Strength Steel began in North America in 2016. AHSS features a combination of very high strength with the enhanced formability normally found only in low-strength mild steels. The blend of properties provides designers the ability to optimize part geometries resulting in thinner, lighter components.  Additionally, it allows part producers to avoid costly production processes, such as stamping shapes at high temperature (hot stamping), when forming the new designs.

Through the transaction announced Feb. 13, Lear Corp. becomes the first automotive Tier 1 supplier to license NanoSteel’s products. “After initial testing of NanoSteel’s AHSS, we are optimistic about its potential to contribute lighter materials for our vehicle seating structures,” said CEO and President Matthew J. Simoncini, in a press release. “Helping our customers meet their fuel economy targets is a clear priority for Lear, and we are enthusiastic supporters of new lighter-weight solutions that would allow us to use our current manufacturing infrastructure.”

Olivier Périer, CEO of SPDG, called NanoSteel “a compelling opportunity that targets two of our core investment theses, disruptive mobility solutions and environmental sustainability. We believe NanoSteel is positioned for significant growth,” he said.

NanoSteel president and CEO David Paratore said the latest investment brings the company to an inflection point, “where our focus has shifted from technology development to product deployment with our steel partners and automotive customers. Our relationships with Fortune 500-level partners have been a major factor in our accomplishments thus far and will be key to our success moving forward,” he said.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Rexburg chamber names new president

The Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce has a new president and CEO, Christopher Mann, a longtime Rexburg resident who was been named to replace Ted Austin. Austin, who has served as the chamber’s CEO for the past year, informed the executive board last month of his intention to leave, citing health issues and desire for a reduced work load.

Mann, a Rexburg resident for 35 years, recently retired from
Brigham Young University-Idaho, where he was food services administrator. He has served on the Rexburg City Council for 12 years, and has served on the chamber board and several of its committees. He and his wife, Barbara, have three grown children and three grandchildren, also residing in the Rexburg area.

Austin will provide guidance to Mann during a transition phase and will emcee the chamber’s annual Farmer Merchant Banquet and Fundraising Auction on March 9, as he has done in previous years.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

More news from Idaho Falls' Park Avenue

Last week in our writeup about Persnickety Lemon, 313 Park Avenue, we neglected to mention a specialty item that might be of some interest to readers, refrigerated vegan pet food made by Amy Ziegler. Pets can have allergies the same as humans, and quite often the food they eat is at the root of their misery. Ziegler said she was force to come up with something for her dog, that it was a matter of life and death.

Also on Park Avenue, Downtown Development Corp. offers news about the following businesses opening:

ALC Architecture, 301 Park Ave. —  New construction, remodels, and renovations in nearly all aspects of commercial, residential, and industrial design. www.alcarchitecture.com

Jacob Grant Property Management, 490 Park Ave., Suite 1 - Professional property management company that provides tenant screening, marketing, accounting and property maintenance services to residential and apartment complex owners. www.facebook.com/jacobgrant.property.management

New Penn Financial, 490 Park Avenue — Loan officers with years of experience in the mortgage industry. www.newpennfinancial.com/locations/idaho-falls

Monday, February 6, 2017

EIRMC names new chief nursing officer

Ann Kjosa
Ann Kjosa has joined Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center as chief nursing officer to the hospital’s administrative team. Kjosa (pronounced Cho-sa) comes to EIRMC with 30 years of health care experience, including ten years as CNO at various hospitals across the nation.

As CNO, Kjosa oversees clinical nursing operations throughout the hospital, ensures quality patient care, and leads efforts to increase patient satisfaction.

Kjosa’s began her healthcare career at age 18 as a nursing assistant in her hometown of Aberdeen, S.D. Her most recent role has been as chief operating officer and chief experience officer at St. Peter’s Hospital in Helena, Mont.

Kjosa earned her bachelor's in nursing from Presentation College in Aberdeen. She also holds an MBA in Healthcare Management from Regis University in Denver, Colo., and is a fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives. In the community, she has served organizations such as March of Dimes, Rotary, the Heart Walk, United Way, and many educational institutions in the communities where she’s lived.

“I love to see others reach their potential both personally and professionally,” she said. “I am committed to providing an environment which creates the best outcomes possible for our patient guests.”

Friday, February 3, 2017

Persnickety Lemon opens on Park Avenue.

Persnickety Lemon, 313 Park Avenue
Persnickety Lemon, a deli and indoor farmer’s market of sorts, has opened at 313 Park Avenue. The operators are Jed and Jennifer Campbell, who own the building.

In addition to selling artisanal breads and baked items from small businesses such as Blue Spoon Kitchen, Iona Juice and Wellness, and Grain Revival, it offers the use of a commercial-grade, health department-approved kitchen for people such as Jodi Fohs, whose Josephine’s Fresh Salsa has been a sell-out item at the Farmers’ Market. Renting the kitchen gives her a place to make her salsa, and the store is a place where she can sell it in the months the Farmers Market isn’t going.

Customers can take their snacks downstairs, which has been remodeled and has the space for small clubs and social organizations.

The Campbells had a soft opening on Tuesday and are planning a grand opening at a later date. To find out more, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThePersnicketyLemon313ParkAve.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Idaho Falls schedules meetings for discussion of fiber network expansion

The City of Idaho Falls is planning four informational meetings in February to foster a community-wide discussion about the future of the Idaho Falls Fiber Network.

The city’s dark fiber network was established in 2002 to upgrade the city’s internal communications capabilities while keeping costs low. It was expanded over the next five years, and in 2007 access to the network was granted to commercial service providers.

The network has expanded nearly every year since, providing connectivity to businesses on the philosophy that competitive Internet service rates will keep facilitate economic development. Today, 27 of the 30 commercially available pairs of dark fiber are under lease. Eight commercial internet service providers (ISPs) lease access to the network to provide broadband internet of 1 gigabit and upwards to 383 local businesses. In addition, 12 local businesses lease fiber directly from the city to provide network access to 76 locations.

In 2015, Idaho Falls Power enlisted a consultant to explore options for expansion of the network, including options for fiber to homes in the city.

The consultants, Finley Engineering and CCG Consulting, examined the cost of building fiber throughout the city based on a variety of scenarios and a range of options for potential business models for network expansion. They evaluated the city as a stand-alone service provider, public-private partnerships between the city and a new or existing ISP, and for an open access network similar to the current configuration but expanded to service residences.

At each meeting, Idaho Falls Power staff will provide information on the history of the fiber network, the options for potential network expansion, and results of a recently conducted survey of local customers. Each meeting will feature an informal, open house format and will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the following locations:

Thursday, Feb. 9, Compass Academy, 955 Garfield Street

Monday, Feb. 13, Taylorview Junior High School, 350 Castlerock Lane

Tuesday, Feb. 21, Idaho Falls High School, 601 S. Holmes Avenue

Wednesday, Feb. 22, Skyline High School, 1767 Blue Sky Drive

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Startup Weekend Rexburg begins Thursday night

Startup Weekend Rexburg will begin Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at North Point, 141 W. First South, in the special events room on the third floor.

Startup Weekends are 54-hour events designed to provide experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. The events are centered on action, innovation, and education, beginning with Thursday night pitches and continuing through testing, business model development, and basic prototype creation. Finally, on Saturday night, participants conduct demos to a panel of potential investors and local entrepreneurs.

Participants are challenged with building functional startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks.

The facilitator will be Luke Bayard, president of Cal Poly Entrepreneurs. Two years ago, Bayard was a Cuesta College business student, looking to transfer to Cal Poly. He is now one of the leading student voices for Cal Poly entrepreneurship.

Luke grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. His father is a lawyer in private practice and his mother owns a floral shop. Seeing his parents’ example sparked a passion in him and made him want to be an entrepreneur, he said. During his high school years, he built a small business as an independent fitness trainer.

The organizing team for the event consists of Daniel Torres, Scott Johnson and Will Jenson. More information, including registration, can be found at http://www.up.co/communities/usa/rexburg/startup-weekend.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Idaho Falls seeks public comment for downtown planning

A panoramic view of downtown Idaho Falls taken when parking was not as much on everyone's minds. 
The City of Idaho Falls has plans for a guide for development and redevelopment of the downtown area, and is asking members of the community for their thoughts.

The guide will address such topics as streetscape design, housing, parking and more. By engaging the public, the city hopes to coordinate vision and guiding principles, discuss financing strategies, identify possibly catalytic projects and avoid mistakes.

The city’s web page, ifdowntown.com, admits this is not the first attempt at coming up with a coherent, unified plan for downtown. “In recent years there have been many studies and plans for downtown,” it says. “However, these plans have lacked the effort and clear responsibility necessary for implementation. As the City continues to implement economic development programs to attract new businesses, shoppers, sporting events, art, entertainment, and recreation, a cohesive plan is necessary to achieve the full potential of downtown Idaho Falls.”

To get things started, there will be an open house on Tuesday (Jan. 31) from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Idaho Falls Library, 457 W. Broadway. For those unable to attend the meeting, comments can be made online at http://www.ifdowntown.com/participate--comment.html or by calling the Idaho Falls Planning Division at (208) 612-8187.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Idaho Falls Black Bear Diner ribbon cutting set for Jan. 30

Black Bear Diner's menus "The Black Bear Gazette," have an old newspaper theme.
We'll keep you posted on the actual opening date and time, but we can report the Greater Idaho Falls has a ribbon cutting scheduled for Black Bear Diner, 1610 E. 17th St., on Jan. 30 at 11:30 a.m.

Located in the Hall Park Shopping Center, this is another project of Venture One Properties'. It has been in the works since August, when the Idaho Falls Building Department issued at commercial remodel permit.

The general contractor on the 458,104 square-foot project has been Bateman Hall. The space had been vacant since Rusio’s closed in 2015, but Venture One's Shane Murphy announced in May he had lined up Black Bear, a company based in Redding, Calif., which was already active in Idaho, in Boise, Twin Falls and 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, January 18, 2017

Partnership for Science & Technology seeks award nominees for 2017

The Partnership for Science & Technology, an organization based in Idaho Falls, is taking nominations for its annual awards.

Nominees will be evaluated based on how closely their contributions align with PST’s mission, to independently examine and promote responsible energy technologies and environmental stewardship to benefit Idaho and the region. They may be an individual, agency or organization. Submissions should include the nominee’s name, affiliation, city of work or residence, nominator’s name and nominator’s contact information. In 100 to 500 words, explain the nominee’s contribution and how it meets the general and specific nomination criteria.

Specific criteria for each nomination category are as follows:

Science and Technology Educator Award
The Science and Technology Educator Award acknowledges outstanding efforts to educate and empower our future leaders and community members.

Science and Technology Innovator Award
The Science and Technology Innovator Award recognizes future leadership potential by celebrating an early-career contribution to energy, science or technology.

Regional Energy Advocate Award
The Regional Energy Advocate Award acknowledges an outstanding contribution to the region’s energy options or public energy discourse.

National Energy Advocate Award
The PST Board of Directors will select a National Energy Advocate Award winner to celebrate an outstanding national contribution that is consistent with PST’s mission to advocate for responsible advancement of energy, technology and/or environmental stewardship.

Recent awardees include Idaho National Laboratory’s Dr. Catherine Riddle, University of Idaho’s Dr. Robert Smith, INL’s Dr. Shannon Bragg-Sitton, Center for Advanced Energy Studies’ Dr. Ray Grosshans, NuScale Power’s Dr. Jose Reyes, former Idaho Falls Mayor Jared Fuhriman, nuclear energy startup TerraPower, LLC, and Western Governors’ Association Executive Director James Ogsbury.

Nominations should be submitted by March 15 to info@p-s-t.org. For more information, visit http://www.p-s-t.org.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Specialty coffee roasters open in Idaho Innovation Center

Art Baker and Jenny Bueno have set up shop as specialty coffee roasters in the Idaho Innovation Center on North Yellowstone. Doing business as Chapolera Coffee, they are bringing a fair trade values and personal passion to the process, seeking to provide high quality coffee that has come from people who have received a fair price for their efforts.

From the Values and Mission Statement on their web page:

“(We) believe that high quality, great tasting coffee can only be achieved by having fair practices all around the supply chain and more importantly sustained by having fair practices all round the supply chain. …
Art Baker and the Diedrich IR12 roaster

“We expect the same kind of commitment in our partnerships with farmers or importers.  We pay special attention to making sure a fair price is paid for the coffee and to the farmers. …

“We believe this is the only way we can help ensure they can continue to produce and harvest the exceptional coffee beans we all love and enjoy.”

The couple recently moved to Idaho Falls. Baker, who has an engineering background, is a Michigan native and University of Michigan graduate. Bueno is a native of Colombia who grew up surrounded by coffee and its culture.

The name Chapolera Coffee pays homage to the people, and more specifically the women, who work on the coffee farms harvesting the coffee. For generations, Chapoleros and Chapoleras have harvested coffee from one farm or region to another, raising their families while on the road.

The company is in Bay No. 1 at the Innovation Center, at 2296 N. Yellowstone Highway, where they have their Diedrich IR12 roaster. Idaho Innovation Center is Bonneville County’s business incubator, offering facilities and help for startups.

For more information, visit their web page at https://www.chapoleracoffee.com.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Report highlights INL's economic impacts for 2016

INL Director Mark Peters
Idaho National Laboratory has released the “INL Fiscal Year 2016 Economic Impact Summary,” which breaks down the total economic impact that INL operations have on Idaho’s economy. Not surprisingly, the impact is huge.

The report says the lab contributes a positive value of $1.9 billion to Idaho’s total economic output. This represents an increase of 20.4 percent, or nearly $324 million, between 2015 and 2016.

“As Idaho’s sixth largest private employer, we take great pride in Idaho National Laboratory being a major economic driver for our state,” INL Lab Director Mark Peters said. “We value our relationship with the state of Idaho and believe our continued collaboration is critical to the success of the laboratory in the coming years.”

The report can be found online here: https://www.inl.gov/inl-initiatives/economic-and-workforce-development/.

It includes the following highlights:

  • INL employs nearly 4,100 people, making it Idaho’s sixth largest private employer and 10th largest employer when compared to all public and private businesses. INL hired more than 480 employees in 2016 and increased its average salary to $92,660 annually, up from $88,635.
  • Secondary impacts in Idaho accounted for an additional 7,199 jobs for a total of 11,276 jobs – a 21.3 percent increase from the previous year.
  • In addition to purchasing goods and services, INL hosted significantly more visitors and held more events in 2016, resulting in positive economic benefit to the local hotel and restaurant industry.  
  • More than $874 million in economic output was generated through INL suppliers and employee household spending.
  • INL increased personal income in the state by $795 million.
  • Day-to-day management and operation of INL is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA), which subcontracted more than $136 million to Idaho businesses.
  • BEA corporate offices contributed $623,454 to charitable giving, and the majority of those funds in Idaho are focused on education needs.
  • INL posted job and business volume gains primarily in its national homeland security and nuclear energy research divisions. Specific areas of expanded research include critical infrastructure, high-performance computing, cybersecurity, and small modular reactors. 

“In the foreseeable future we continue to see a need to hire more engineers and scientists – not only to support replacing those who retire but to support the growth of our laboratory,” Peters said. “It is critical we strengthen our partnering with subcontractors, educators and industry.”

To support its future growth, INL hosted a partnering event in December in Idaho Falls and will host a second event Jan. 17 in Boise. The event will showcase subcontracting needs, highlight grant opportunities, and share details on how to partner with INL employees and technology to conduct research and development. For more information on this event, go to https://partner.inl.gov/.

The annual summary was prepared by the Rexburg-based Research & Business Development Center.
The economic impacts identified in the report only include operations managed by BEA and do not include the impacts of the U.S. Department of Energy cleanup contractor, the DOE itself or the Naval Reactors Facility (which recently announced it was building a new, $1.6 Expanded Core Facility.)