Monday, November 12, 2018

Rexburg Motorsports hosting "Stuff the Side-by-Side" food drive for EICAP

Rexburg Motorsports is looking to give back to families in need in their community with its Stuff the Side-by-Side Food Drive. The event runs from 2 until 4 p.m. Saturday, November 17, outside Broulim's in Rexburg. To support the Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership (EICAP) Rexburg Outreach Office, Rexburg Motorsports is looking for donations of new and unopened food and household items to stuff a Honda Pioneer Side x Side with a half ton of food.

The Rexburg Outreach Office is seeking donations for the following unexpired items: canned chicken, canned fruit, cereals, soups, laundry soap, dishwasher soap, cleaning supplies, and various hygiene items.

The Honda Pioneer is equipped to hold up to 1,000 pounds of donations in the seats, bed, and storage compartments. Rexburg Motorsports is hoping the vehicle's capacity will be exceeded before the event concludes.

To donate, simply stop by the Broulim’s in Rexburg between 2 and 4 p.m. and place your donations in the side-by-side parked outside the store. All donations received will be housed in the food bank in Rexburg and be distributed to families in need in the Madison County area. “We're always looking for ways to help out the community,” said Mike Vickers, Owner of Rexburg Motorsports. "This seemed like a fun way to accomplish that, and to encourage others to get involved."

For further questions or information regarding the food drive or Rexburg Motorsports in general, contact, Matt Dyer, at 208-356-4000 or via email at mdyer@gearhead.com.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

INL employees selected for competitive DOE Project Leadership Institute


Two Idaho National Laboratory employees have been selected for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Project Leadership Institute (PLI) 2019 cohort. Sadie Butler and Brad Cole, INL project managers, were selected for the highly competitive program, designed to develop a future generation of successful DOE project managers.

Only accepting 20 to 25 new students each year, PLI focuses on four main learning objectives: strategic thinking and analysis, organization and general management skills, team building, and communications.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our project managers,” said Juan Alvarez, deputy laboratory director for Management and Operations and chief operating officer. “It gives them a chance to learn from best of the best while also getting to network across DOE’s vast network of project managers and leaders.”

Over the course of a year, participants will attend five in-person sessions in various locations, complete an online course during the summer, and produce a capstone project. The content is intended as both a leadership development and skill development course, with subject matter tailored to the DOE environment.

This isn’t the first time INL employees have been accepted to PLI. In fact, INL has had an employee in every cohort in PLI’s three-year history. Brady Orchard was one of those previous attendees and found the experience valuable. “PLI helped me to better understand my leadership qualities and how to improve my personal performance,” Orchard said. “I was able to immediately apply what I learned at PLI into my work at INL.” Matthew Hammond is a member of the second cohort and will complete his PLI coursework in December.

The 2019 cohort will begin work in January and finish the program in December.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Firehouse Subs files for Idaho Falls building permit

The Hook and Ladder, Firehouse Subs' top-selling sandwich
Firehouse Subs has filed for a permit with the city of Idaho Falls Building Department for an 1,875-square-foot project at 435 South Utah Ave., in the Railway Crossings center. The franchisee is listed Chris Morris of Idaho Falls, and the owner is listed on the permit as MCMM Utah LLC.

This would be the fifth Firehouse Subs in Idaho. Other locations listed on its website are in Boise, Meridian, Couer d’Alene and Pocatello.

The chain dates back to 1994, when brother Chris and Robin Sorensen, both firefighters, opened their first restaurant in Jacksonville, Fla. Since then, Firehouse Subs has opened more than 1,135 restaurants across 44 states and Puerto Rico, and internationally in Canada. Current plans for expansion are focused on entering new states in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest and on the West Coast, as well as growth in nontraditional locations, like airports and college campuses.

The menu features hot specialty subs, salads, and other seasonal items, and takes inspiration from the firehouse with names like Hook & Ladder (the No. 1 selling item), Engineer, and Firehouse Hero. The subs are prepared with steam-heated meats and cheeses, on a toasted sub roll, and served with vegetables and condiments. The Sorensens remain in charge of the menu, working in tandem with Firehouse Subs' Director of Product Development, Jay Miller, who joined the team in 2017.

The business magazine Forbes recognized Firehouse Subs as a winner in its article America's Best and Worst Franchises to Buy 2018.

US Bank Foundation makes $5k donation to CEI scholarships

The U.S. Bank Foundation has donated $5,000.00 to the College of Eastern Idaho Foundation and its scholarship program for the 2019-2020 academic year. This represents an increase in U.S. Bank Foundation's level of support, said Natalie Hebard, CEI Foundation executive director.

“Our scholarship program is supported by donations from individual, corporate, civic organizations, endowment contributions, fund-raisers and grants," she said. "The people who established the foundation had one goal in mind: to remove the financial barriers for students to achieve academic success. We are fortunate to have businesses such as U.S. Bank and their foundation recognize the importance of scholarships to CEI students.”

If you or someone you know is interested in attending CEI and would like to apply for scholarship
support, the next deadline to apply is Feb. 8, 2019. Award notifications will be made by the end of March and funds will be available for fall 2019 and spring 2020. Applications
can be picked up in person at CEI in the foundation office, 1600 S. 2500 East, Building 3, or found online at www.ceigiving.org.

To learn more about College of Eastern Idaho Foundation, please visit www.ceigiving.org or e-mail
scholarships@cei.edu.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Urban Land Institute to offer insights on eastern Idaho real estate trends Nov. 16 in Idaho Falls

Urban Land Institute will be in Idaho Falls Nov. 16 to deliver a report on Emerging Trends in Real Estate, based on the annual trend and forecast publication it puts out in collaboration with PwC.

The event will be from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Willard Arts Center. The keynote speaker will be Jeremey Malone, vice president of Oppenheimer Development Corp. Malone is an Idaho native and Boise State University graduate with a degree in business administration. He attained his Real Property Administrator (RPA) designation from Building Owners & Manager Institute (BOMI) International in 2007 and received his Construction Management Certificate from Boise State University in 2010. He has been with Oppenheimer since 1991.

Oppenheimer Development is also the developer behind The Broadway, the huge retail and office project nearing completion at the corner of Broadway and Memorial Drive in Idaho Falls. 

His talk will follow a panel discussion moderated by Dana Briggs, the city of Idaho Falls’ economic development director. Panelists include Mike Hicks of Keller Williams, Chris Lee of SimpLEE Home, and Brent Wilson of Thornton Oliver Keller.

The Emerging Trends in Real Estate report has a 39-year history, and draws on formal and informal surveys of real estate executives, investors, developers, and market experts around the United States, including survey responses from over 1,500 real estate executives and personal interviews with over 350 industry leaders. Survey results relating to our local market will be included in the presentation.

Admission is $25 for ULI members and $35 for non-members. For more information, visit this link: https://idaho.uli.org/event/uli-idaho-real-estate-trends-2019-eastern-idaho/.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Walsh Engineering named Small Business of the Month

Walsh Engineering Services, an Idaho Falls-based engineering firm that works with government and commercial clients, was named Small Business of the Month for October by the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

The award honors small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country. Walsh Engineering was nominated by U.S. Sen. Jim Risch and it will be recognized in the Congressional Record of the U.S. Senate, according to a news release.

Founded by Stephanie Walsh in 2005, Walsh Engineering has contracted with Idaho National Laboratory, the Department of Energy and the State of Idaho Department of Public Works.

“Since its founding, Stephanie Walsh has grown the company from a small group of dedicated engineers and designer-drafters, to a full-service engineering and architecture firm,” Risch said in the release. “She is an outstanding example of Idaho’s unique entrepreneurial spirit and is an inspiration to women entrepreneurs across the great state of Idaho.”

Risch added, “During National Women’s Small Business Month, I am pleased to honor a great woman-owned small business in Walsh Engineering.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Building permit filed for Holiday Inn and Suites at Jackson Hole Junction development

It looks like a Holiday Inn and Suites is coming to the Jackson Hole Junction development, just west of Teton Toyota near 1-15 Exit 116. A building permit application was filed Oct. 17 by Process Architecture of Missoula, Mont., on behalf of InnTrusted LLC, an Idaho Falls company with several hotels in the area.

Located at 3005 South Fork Boulevard, the permit is for a 91,330-square-foot building with a valuation of $13,128,688.

Locally, InnTrusted operates the Holiday Inn Express on Channing Way, Candlewood Suites, LaQuinta Inn & Suites and two Hampton Inns. The company also operates hotels in Nampa, Pocatello, Jerome and Meridian, as well as Missoula and Butte, Mont., and St. George, Utah.

Jackson Hole Junction is a 44-acre development with plans for two hotels, retail businesses and restaurants. Ground was broken on the site in April.

Bank of Idaho doubles earnings, donation from summer golf tournament

Bank of Idaho President and CEO Jeff Newgard
It seemed an insurmountable task earlier this year when Bank of Idaho President and CEO Jeff Newgard challenged his team to double their 2017 ‘Swing for the Green’ Tournament earnings and donation to the College of Eastern Idaho’s Education Endowment Fund. But on Thursday at 4 p.m., in the bank’s Capital Avenue lobby in downtown Idaho Falls, Newgard and his governing board will be presenting a check for $25,240, slightly more than double last year’s amount.

Local dignitaries, including Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper and Ammon Mayor Sean Coletti, CEI officials, foundation directors and trustees, are expected to be on hand to witness the delivery of the first check for the new endowment. An informal reception will follow.

“Our thanks go out to the many wonderful and generous sponsors who stepped up and donated their time and money,” said Jarod Phillips, the bank’s vice president of market development, who organized the tournament, now in its second year. Special credit goes to Wipfli and The Hartwell  Corp., who anchored the tournament again, he said.

The tournament was held in late June at the Idaho Falls Country Club, with 25 teams participating. It was co-hosted by LPGA Professionals, who have committed to return next year.

“We understand the ripple effect on our local small business economy of having a trained and ready workforce graduating, that are also more likely to continue living in the community,” Newgard said. “We hope to get the word out about the endowment fund’s scholarship opportunity to local students
because we aren’t stopping here. Bank of Idaho is proud to support CEI and the pursuit of educational excellence in our community.”

For details on how to contribute to the Endowment Fund for Higher Education, contact Phillips at (208) 524-5500 or via email at j.phillips@bankofidaho.net.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Idaho Falls schedules residential fiber program public meeting for Tuesday

The pilot area for fiber to be strung overhead, between 17th Street and Rose Hill Cemetery
The pilot area for fiber in city conduits, south of Sunnyside Road 
The Idaho Falls Residential Fiber Pilot Program is set to begin with a public meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Taylorview Junior High School.

Residents whose neighborhoods have been selected to participate in the pilot program have been identified and have received a letter from Idaho Falls Power and the Idaho Falls Fiber Network advising them of the date and time of the meeting.

While the meeting is specifically to answer questions for the pilot program residents, it is an open meeting and the public is invited to attend. The meeting will provide residents with more detailed information on the project, construction process, schedules and details on how and when to sign up for services. Utopia, the Utah-based telecommunications company that is partnering with Idaho Falls Power on the design of the fiber network, will also be at the meeting to help answer questions.

The Idaho Falls residential fiber pilot program was approved by a resolution of the Idaho Falls City Council in September.

“Essentially, Idaho Falls Power already manages a large infrastructure that provides fiber to numerous local businesses, government and schools,” said Bear Prairie, General Manager of Idaho Falls Power and Idaho Falls Fiber. “What [the] resolution does…is formally direct us to prove the feasibility of expanding our network throughout the city.”
The pilot area for fiber to be buried directly, encompassing Stonebrook and some of Victorian Village
Prairie said that the pilot will allow Idaho Falls Power critical connectivity with residential electric customers to provide better power monitoring and customer service. It will also deliver previously unavailable fiber access for internet connectivity if customers want to use the additional bandwidth.

Idaho Falls Power expects residents who opt into the fiber network to experience data speeds up to one gigabit through the service.

Idaho Falls Power already maintains hundreds of miles of power and fiber lines that are run above ground on poles or buried underground throughout neighborhoods. Because Idaho Falls Power already has the fiber backbone and can run new lines through existing power infrastructure, the utility can build the residential fiber network at a fraction of the cost other companies might face.

Construction for the project is scheduled in early November and is expected to continue through the spring of 2019.  The first service to customers could happen as early as December, but is dependent on planning schedules and the weather, so final plans and dates are subject to change.

Residents with questions about the pilot program can contact Idaho Falls Power at 208-612-8430 or by e-mail at ifpinfo@ifpower.org.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Developer sought for downtown Park Avenue property

The Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency is seeking a developer

to renovate the vacant property at 336 Park Avenue.
The Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency is looking for a developer to revitalize 336 Park Avenue, vacant since 2015. Responses are due Nov. 8.

Located between the Lily's Too and the Villa Coffeehouse, the property was most recently the Pfaff Sewing Center. “Proposed developments are encouraged to take advantage of this site and its location on one of downtown’s most active streets and incorporate eating and drinking establishments, office support uses, or other uses supportive to residential housing on upper floors,” the request for proposals says (find the document with this link.)

The agency will negotiate with the selected developer leading to the preparation of a disposition and development agreement. Community Development Block Grant funds may be available for the restoration of the façade. "The project should be an aesthetically pleasing and efficient
project that will complement and enhance downtown.“The agency hopes the proposed development will significantly increase residential uses downtown in order to increase economic activity in the urban core of Idaho Falls. The design and uses should activate this key location,” the RFP says.

The building dates back to 1896. Based on Sanborn Map records, it housed a printing service and a drug store from then until 1905. From 1905 until 1921 the property operated as a saloon and billiards parlor on the main floor with lodging on the upper floor.

There is a gap in the city’s records from 1921 until 1946, but from the historical research I have done for my “Looking Back” column in the Post Register I can report that the Battery Cigar Store was at 330 Park Avenue in 1926. It was the scene of a sidewalk shooting in October that year in which Ed Irwin, a clerk at the cigar store, was shot by Herman Albers, the operator of a billiard hall on A Street. Albers was acquitted in December 1926 at the end of a 3 1/2-day trial.

From 1946 until 1954, according to Polk City Directories, tenants included Kellar Cigar Store, the Alaska Bar, and the Spud Bar and Billiards. Starting in 1956, the property moved to primarily retail and service uses. From 1956 to 1968, city directories list Young Town Clothing and Green’s Apparel and Women’s Clothing as the tenants. In 1970, the building became home to Pfaff Sewing Center, which it remained until 2015. Since then it has been vacant, with a condemnation notice in the window.

The Redevelopment Agency outlines the following criteria for anyone seeking to apply:

  • Commercial or community uses on the ground floor including, but not limited to retail, restaurant, service, and office uses.
  • Development of the upper floor into commercial, professional, or residential uses.
  • Addressing concerns raised in the structural engineer’s report and making the building safe and secure according to current building codes.
  • The commitment to follow the Idaho Falls Downtown Design Guidelines for
  • rehabilitation of structures.
  • The restoration of the exterior of the building.
  • Contribution to development of downtown and local employment and economy.
  • Probability of the proposed development’s success – based upon the stability and capability of the developer, demonstrated success based on past development projects undertaken by the developer, market analysis, business plan, financial strength, and timeline.
  • Ability to secure permits for construction within thirty (30) days of the closing date (to be determined).

Developer’s expectations of the Agency for the project’s success.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Land donation for event center at Snake River Landing finalized

Artist's rendering of what an Idaho Falls Events Center might look like
Idaho Falls Auditorium District (IFAD) on Thursday accepted a 22-acre land donation for the site of the Idaho Falls Event Center, a parcel within Snake River Landing. The donation was made by Ball Ventures/Snake River Landing to fulfill a commitment made in 2009 to donate land.

Construction will commence later this month on Event Center Drive, a 5-lane street designed to provide main access to the Event Center facility. Construction of the new street will be managed by Snake River Landing.

“Ball Ventures and Snake River Landing have worked side-by-side with the Idaho Falls Auditorium District in the planning and preparation of the site and required infrastructure,” says Eric Isom, Snake River Landing's chief development officer. “The completion of the land donation and the construction of Event Center Drive are the culmination of a lot of hard work by the many people involved, and show the Idaho Falls Auditorium District’s ongoing commitment to make continued progress toward completion of this wonderful project.”

“Ball Ventures is pleased to make this donation in support of the event center project,” said Cortney Liddiard, CEO of Ball Ventures. “We believe the event center will be an asset to the community and will promote additional economic development and increase the quality of life in the region.”

In 2009, during the early stages of the event center planning, the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce tasked an advisory committee with selecting the site for the future event center. Snake River Landing was selected from a number of proposals due to the high visibility of the location, convenient access to I-15, and for the ability to integrate the event center into the overall design of the mixed-use development.

“This donation is the catalyst for the road development and ultimately the event center,” said IFAD board chairwoman Terri Gazdik. “The Ball Ventures group has been instrumental in so many phases of this project.

“My wife Connie and I have always felt it is important for us to give back to the community that has given so much to our family," Ball Ventures founder Allen Ball said. "This goal has been much of the driving force behind the Snake River Landing development, and this land donation helps to accomplish this goal.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

INL receives funding for commercialization of seven technologies

Idaho National Laboratory has received funding awards for seven projects proposed to the Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF). TCF was created in 2005 to promote promising energy technologies across DOE’s national labs. Total funding awarded by DOE this cycle totals over $20 million across 10 national labs and 71 private sector partners. By funding received, INL was the third most awarded laboratory, receiving $2.4 million in TCF funds and $4.8 million with matching industry funds.

Each project was selected for its potential to advance promising commercial energy technologies and strengthen partnerships between INL and private sector companies to deploy energy technologies to the marketplace.

Topic 1
Topic 1 projects identify technology maturation activities to attract a private partner. Each Topic 1 project is matched with nonfederal funds from a private sector partner or through the INL Royalty Fund. INL’s Topic 1 winners are:

Active Measurement Cancellation, $75,000
Principal Investigator: David Jamison, Energy & Environment Science & Technology
This project proposes to develop and demonstrate a portable, one-of-a-kind, stand-alone instrument to assess battery module health. The benefits of Active Measurement Cancellation (AMC) include the ability to measure the impedance — or internal resistance — of a battery in real time, without modifying the battery circuit, even when it is energized. A battery that fails with a significant internal resistance rise cannot supply power externally. AMC technology provides researchers the ability to measure internal resistance on an energized battery without isolation or disassembly, making it unique within the battery industry. AMC testing ensures that batteries are safe and effective both before consumer release and during the life span of the battery. This TCF funding will help researchers provide AMC at a competitive price for greater commercial adoption.

Direct Electrochemical Valorization of Captured Carbon Dioxide, $150,000
Principal Investigator: Luis Diaz Aldana, Energy & Environment Science & Technology
Partner: Carbon Clean Solutions, Cincinnati, Ohio
The integration of carbon capture with carbon utilization (CCU) can help enable the economic feasibility of carbon capture technologies by generating additional value from the production of commodity chemicals and fuels. INL’s CCU technology enables process intensification by combining capture media regeneration and carbon dioxide upgrading to refinery grade syngas in a single step. This funding will help address the maturation and development of the CCU electrochemical reactor.

Mobile Efficient Modified Delta Robotic Non-Destructive Examination Platform, $73,404
Principal Investigator: Anthony Crawford, Nuclear Science & Technology
This project will include designing a mobile 3-D scanning platform and testing its performance in laboratory and industry settings. The mobility and modified configuration of this platform would allow the device to achieve in-field scans not traditionally possible with conventional systems. The mobility also enables the device to discretely progress along a component, resulting in multiple section scan images that can then be stitched together to achieve a complete component representation. This will enable many in-field nondestructive examination applications, like evaluating pipeline welds, airplane turbine blades, nuclear reactor components and more. The system also has potential benefit in the 3-D additive manufacturing arena, because it may enable in-field multiple component integration and repair.

Topic 2
Topic 2 projects cooperatively advance a lab-developed technology in collaboration with a private sector partner to bolster commercial application. Each Topic 2 project is matched with funds from a private sector partner. INL’s Topic 2 winners are:

Enable Safe and Reliable Operations of Nuclear Power Plants through a Highly Dynamic and Integrated Work Management System, $750,000
Principal Investigator: Johanna Oxstrand, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: Devbridge Group LLC, Chicago, Illinois
INL will develop and commercialize a dynamic work management (DWM) system in partnership with Devbridge Group LLC. This system will be compatible with existing nuclear plants and potential new builds, and will include tools for smart scheduling, planning, procedure authoring and field work. The software will also enable smooth interaction between legacy systems. The DMW solution will be intuitive to use and will support all roles in the work management process, such as planners, supervisors, field workers and engineers. The DMW solution will empower nuclear operation, as well as increase safety and human performance related to work execution in the field by enabling the standardization of work procedures, simplification of task completion and application of real-time data analytics.

High-Temperature Irradiation-Resistant Thermocouple, $300,000
Principal Investigator: Richard Skifton, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: Idaho Laboratories Corporation, Idaho Falls, Idaho
The High-Temperature Irradiation-Resistant Thermocouple is a breakthrough in the field of temperature measurement. It is also the only sensor specifically designed for operating reliably in high-temperature radiation environments. The accurate measurements of temperatures that it can deliver between 1,100 and 1,700°C are important to safe, efficient and economical industrial operations. In such high-temperature environments, thermocouples are the most widely used industrial temperature sensors because they are rugged, affordable and accurate — but unfortunately after installation, commercial thermocouples are prone to decalibration and can provide increasingly unreliable readings as they age. As operating temperatures and thermal cycling increase, the longevity of thermocouples also decreases. This project will provide to the market a reliable and durable thermocouple for high temperatures.

Prognostic Inspection Analysis at Nuclear Power Plants through an Advanced Imaging Service, $325,000
Principal Investigator: Troy Unruh, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: LPI Inc., Amesbury, Massachusetts
This project will develop prognostic inspection analysis tools by deploying the existing INL Change Detection System (CDS) technology and expertise as an advanced imaging service, specifically for use in nuclear facility applications. The developments will provide an intuitive user interface with powerful image processing algorithms that will allow users to rapidly detect changes in processed images. Major objectives include the development of a software application for prognostic inspection analysis, software demonstration using imagery from nuclear power plants, deployment of this technology, and feedback from LPI on the measured benefit and cost or time savings of this technology.

Pilot Demonstration of a Wireless Valve Position Indication Sensor System in Nuclear Power Plants, $750,000
Principal Investigator: Vivek Agarwal, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: Exelon Generation Company LLC, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
One of the tasks performed by personnel in a nuclear power plant on a regular basis is independent or concurrent verification of manual valve position, which requires two or sometimes three people. To address these concerns, a research team at INL has developed a wireless valve position indication (VPI) sensor system that can be retrofitted on three primary manual valve types to replace manual valve position verification with digital verification, and to enable online monitoring of manual valves. Retrofitting the wireless VPI sensor system does not require any valve modification. By enabling digital verification and remote online monitoring, implementation would generate significant cost savings during plant outages, extend the calibration cycles (calibration is currently performed in every outage) and ensure valve health monitoring as part of a reduction in downtime. It would also reduce the risk of exposing plant personnel to industrial and regulatory hazards, along with a significant reduction in human errors.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

City of Idaho Falls to begin residential fiber pilot project

The Idaho Falls City Council has authorized Idaho Falls Power, the city-owned utility, to begin a pilot program to examine the costs associated with providing high-speed fiber optic access to Idaho Falls residences.

“Essentially, Idaho Falls Power already manages a large infrastructure that provides fiber to numerous local businesses, government and schools,” said Bear Prairie, general manager of Idaho Falls Power and Idaho Falls Fiber. “What this resolution does is formally direct us to prove the feasibility of expanding our network throughout the city.”

Prairie said that the pilot will allow Idaho Falls Power critical connectivity with residential electric customers to provide better power monitoring and customer service. It will also deliver previously unavailable fiber access for internet connectivity if customers want to use the additional bandwidth.

“With this project, I wish to make clear that we are not interested in becoming an Internet service provider.  We anticipate local companies will want to provide this service. What we can do is get the fiber physically to the homes and maintain the infrastructure. That is something Idaho Falls Power is really good at.”

Idaho Falls Power already maintains hundreds of miles of power and fiber lines that are run above ground on poles or buried underground throughout neighborhoods. With the passage of the Sept. 27 resolution, work now begins within the study area to design a network that will provide connections from those lines to homes.

“Designing a system like this is a detailed, complicated engineering function,” Prairie said. “This is why the council also approved an agreement for us to work with Utopia, a company specializing in network design and management. It important to note that Utopia won’t be a service provider, they’ll simply help design and manage an open access system. The system will still rely on local companies to partner with to provide internet service.”

Prairie pointed out that because Idaho Falls Power already has the fiber backbone and can run new lines through existing power infrastructure, the utility can build the residential fiber network at a fraction of the cost any other company would face.

The actual boundaries for the pilot program have not yet been finalized.  However, the general area includes the numbered streets bordered by 17th Street and Tautphaus Park and will also extend south into a number of residential areas south of Sunnyside Road.

Idaho Falls Fiber will be sending out a letter in early October to residents in the pilot area. An open house also will be held at 6 p.m. on October 23 at Taylorview Middle School to explain the program in greater detail to residents living in the pilot project boundaries.

Design of the network will begin right away with construction expected to start early in November and continue through the spring. Service to customers will become available as the project progresses, beginning sometime between December and May, depending on customer location.

NOTE: If you're interested in the growing trend of municipalities stringing their own fiber -- and the laws in some states (but not Idaho) aimed at checking the trend, this piece recently ran in Wired:
Small-town ingenuity is making gigabit broadband a reality



Friday, September 28, 2018

Downtown Development receives Redevelopment Agency funds

The Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation has been awarded $945,000 by the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency for downtown projects, including street improvements and new parking technology. IFDDC's mission is to promote and care for the downtown area by promoting and advocating the downtown consistently.

"This funding will maintain the great momentum we have downtown with the development at The Broadway, the renovation of the Bonneville Hotel and many other renovations taking place in the core of downtown Idaho Falls,” said Executive Director Catherine Smith in a press release Friday afternoon. “The downtown has seen significant growth in the last 18 months and we are thrilled to be part of the efforts both as a catalyst for this growth and grateful recipient of the downtown experience."

The funds will be used for three distinct projects downtown:

• The first project will be the Broadway streetscape from Memorial Drive to Yellowstone Highway running east to west. The entire stretch will be addressed with all new curb and gutter, sidewalks, trees, and planter pots. A drip irrigation line will be installed as well. This will reduce the number of labor hours spent to hand-water the vegetation and flowers along Broadway during the growing season.

• The second project will be to address the broken and crumbling planter boxes found throughout downtown at each intersection. The planter boxes are estimated to have been installed in the 1970s, with trees planted within the concrete boxes. Over the years the boxes have deteriorated as the roots of the large trees have been constricted as well as the harsh extremes of cold and hot.

Funds will be spent on pavers with the appropriate trees for the urban landscape, plus new curb, gutter, and sidewalks. This design will allow the trees to grow in a healthy setting in soil in the ground. The design will be consistent throughout downtown and tie into the Broadway streetscape.

• The third project will include the purchase of parking meters to be installed in off-street-parking lots currently managed by IFDDC. By adding technology to the off-street-parking lots, parking customers will have a similar experience to pay-to-park in the core of downtown that is found in larger cities. The machines will allow the processing of credit cards as well as servicing the validation program for downtown restaurants, bars, and merchants that Downtown Development offers for off-street-parking patrons.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Dutch Bros plans grand opening Monday for second Idaho Falls location

The new Dutch Bros Idaho Falls store, at 830 E. 17th Street, is having its grand opening Monday. 
Dutch Bros Coffee will be holding a grand opening Monday morning at its second Idaho Falls location. The new location at 830 E. 17th St. (in the Shopko parking lot) will be open Monday from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The coffee stand will also be offering a 9-stamp loyalty card with every large drink purchased. The drive-thru coffee stand will be donating all of its opening day proceeds to Idaho Falls High School. (Other schools will be getting their own turn, according to the Facebook page, so nobody get upset, OK?)

Dutch Bros opened its first location in Idaho Falls on Woodruff Ave. in May and is hoping to find the same levels of success. “We are so excited to be expanding our presence in Idaho Falls,” said Tonya Thomason, operator of both Idaho Falls stores, in a press release. “We can’t wait to celebrate with everyone in the community.”

Dutch Bros Coffee is the country’s largest privately held drive-thru coffee company, with more than 300 locations and 9,000 employees in seven states.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Four from INL honored by Profiles in Diversity

Cheré D. Morgan
Dr. Donna J. O’Kelly
Four women from Idaho National Labora-tory have been selected as Women Worth Watching by Profiles in Diversity, a national publication dedicated to promoting and advancing diversity and inclusion in the corporate, government, non-profit, STEM and higher education sectors.

The list of Women Worth Watching contains leaders from a variety of industries throughout the U.S. and the world. The recognition is designed to recognize and publicly celebrate the achievements of women who are “leading the way to excellence in the workplace, marketplace and the world.”

Each awardee is featured in a full-page highlight in the fall issue of Diversity Journal magazine.

Congratulations to the four INL winners:

Cheré D. Morgan, Radiological Control and Emergency Management director (p. 97)
Dr. Donna J. O’Kelly, Materials and Fuels Complex chief operations officer (p.35)
Jennifer B. Porter, battalion fire chief (p. 36)
Heidi K. Scott, Performance Management lead (p. 39)

Heidi K. Scott
“We’re honored to have these four incredible women at Idaho National Laboratory recognized as Women Worth Watching. Recognition of our employees is confirmation that the steps we’re taking to promote a vibrant culture of inclusive diversity to fuel growth and drive innovation is making a real-world impact,” said Dr. Mark Peters, INL director.

Jennifer B. Porter
You can view each INL awardee’s spotlight profile in the online magazine issue here.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Distinguished Under 40 honorees named

The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce has announced its Distinguished Under 40 honorees for 2018.

Distinguished Under 40 is an annual awards program exclusive to eastern Idaho area that honors 10 young professionals who have “gone above and beyond to accomplish great things in their careers, community, and education,” a chamber news release said. To be considered for the award, young professionals are nominated by co-workers, managers, and business associates.

Winners are selected by a panel of past and present Chamber of Commerce board members, the release said. Fifty nominations were received this year.

The 2018 honorees are:

  • Jeff Sollis, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center
  • Travis Zmak, Teton Toyota
  • Mark Baker, Bingham Memorial Hospital
  • Noel Bakhtian, Idaho National Laboratory
  • Nate Sunderland, East Idaho News
  • Daniel Quintela, Northwest Cosmetic Labs
  • James Hanneman, INL/Battelle Energy Alliance
  • Ryan Leland, Bank of Idaho
  • Jennifer Veldkamp, Northwest Cosmetic Labs
  • Monica Bitrick, YMCA.

The 10 recipients will be honored at a luncheon at noon Sept. 25 at the Hilton Garden Inn. RSVP by calling Lois Mackes at 208-523-1010 or emailing programs@idahofallschamber.com. Reservations also can be made at idahofallschamber.com/event/distinguished-under-40/.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Wind energy company opening office in Idaho Falls

WindSim, a Norwegian company that has been conducting wind energy research with Idaho National Laboratory, announced this week it will be opening an office in Idaho Falls. The company plans to continue the commercialization of its Power Line-Optimization Solution.

Putting too much electricity on the power grid can cause transmission lines to overheat and sag. Because of that, power has been traditionally managed using conservative static line ratings. But wind power and other renewables, combined with changing consumption patterns and smart grid management, have opened up new possibilities to operators.

Around 2010, INL researchers studying wind power plants noticed that transmission lines being cooled by the wind seemed able to handle more load. Using a commercial computational fluid dynamics (CFD) program, the team blended data from commercially available weather monitors and electric utility load data with CFD-enhanced weather analysis algorithms.

Taking wind and weather conditions into account, along with solid computer modeling and control approaches, dynamic line rating (DLR) has shown potential to unlock latent network transmission capacity – a welcome development, as it typically takes five to 10 years to bring new transmission from the planning stage to construction and operation, costing millions of dollars of investment per mile.

To use DLR effectively, however, engineers need accurate real-time information about wind conditions and factors such as the line’s temperature and amount of current it’s carrying. That information then has to be conveyed to utility operators in a way that enables them to quickly and safely adjust generation to meet load demands while operating within transmission safety limits.

Idaho Power has been working on DLR solutions with INL for close to ten years, and the utility now has roughly 450 miles of transmission line in two test beds set up to provide real-time weather information. INL discovered WindSim's CFD software around 2015, integrating it with INL-developed software called General Line Ampacity State Solver (GLASS), a finalist this year for the annual R&D 100 Awards.

In early 2016 the project was included as part of a $220 million Grid Modernization announced by DOE. Last year, DOE announced it would be receiving $300,000 in Technology Commercialization Funding. WindSim is also the recipient of a DLR project grant from Innovation Norway for implementation of the project in 2018-19.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Bonneville County real estate market shows sharp jump in median home prices

Bonneville County real estate numbers from the Snake River Multiple Listing Service for the first seven months of this year show that while houses are selling in about the same numbers, prices are up dramatically along with new listings, and properties are selling faster than they were last year.

If you look at the median price from 2011 -- $134,578 -- compared to the median price this year -- $193,121 -- you've got an increase of 43 percent. It would be hard not to conclude that the market has rebounded from the hole it was in.

We took a look at the HPI Calculator to find out the value today of a house valued at $134,578 in the second quarter of 2011 and it shows that house would be worth $186,894, a 38 percent increase.

All in all, if you're thinking about selling a home you've been hanging onto for a while, it looks like now would be a pretty good time to do it. Of course, you'd have to find some other living arrangements, wouldn't you?

 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A.C. Moore holding grand openings Saturday in Idaho Falls, Rexburg

A.C. Moore now occupies the two Porter's stores in Idaho Falls and Rexburg.
A.C. Moore, a New Jersey-based arts and crafts retail chain, will be opening its first stores in Idaho this Saturday, in Rexburg and Idaho Falls.

The company will kick off a craft-filled grand opening weekend with doorbuster deals, giveaways, special discounts and free $10 gift cards to the first 100 customers at both locations.

Both stores are where Porter’s Craft & Frame used to be. A.C. Moore started as a single crafts store in Moorestown, N.J. in 1985. It has since grown to more than 130 stores, mainly on the East Coast.

The grand opening will showcase more than 40,000 arts and crafts products, home decor, special occasion accessories, and kids’ activities. A.C. Moore also offers custom framing, as well as free floral arranging from in-store designers.

College students, teachers, and members of the military receive a 15 percent discount on purchases.

“The A.C. Moore family is growing, and we can’t wait to share our value-trusted products and unmatched in-store shopping experience with the creative community of Idaho,” said A.C. Moore President Anthony Piperno. “We will work hard to uphold the legacy left behind by the Porters, and look forward to building our own personal and inspiring relationship with the community for many years to come.”

The stores — at 19 College Ave., in Rexburg, and 2455 E. 25th St. in Idaho Falls — open Saturday at 8 a.m.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Cardamom Indian restaurant opening in downtown Idaho Falls today

The staff at Cardamom, a new downtown Indian restaurant, enjoy some down time Friday afternoon.
Here’s a heads-up for all of you people eager for a new place to eat: Cardamom, a new Indian restaurant in downtown Idaho Falls, is having its soft opening today.

Located at Park Avenue and B Street, the restaurant is owned by Sheba Bakshi-Sofi and her husband, Javed. A native of Kashmir, in the north of India, Bakshi-Sofi has lived in the United States for more than 40 years. She has worked for Nestle and Con-Agra Foods, and was most recently vice-president of international marketing for Melaleuca, Inc.

She left Melaleuca earlier this year to pursue her restaurant dream, and on Friday morning it was her former Melaleuca colleagues she invited to the restaurant for a trial run. “There were 40 to 45 people, which was more than I expected,” she said. “I told them ‘Don’t hold back, order anything off the menu you want.’”

Kashmir is unlike the rest of India in that it borders China, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Its cuisine is a reflection of its crossroads status, and Bakshi-Sofi said they wanted to be eclectic when it came to Cardamom’s menu. “You’ll find dishes traditionally not on the big menus,” she said. “We do serve Chicken Tikka Masala, though.”

In addition to her husband, Bakshi-Sofi’s mother, Nasira Sofi, has been involved in menu decisions and training the staff. Cardamom has five people in the kitchen, led by head chef Jessica Guison and sous chef Stuart Stansifer. Emily Ketchum is taking care of the front-of-house.

Located in the Earl Building, 501 Park Avenue, Cardamom has capacity for about 70 dinners. Bakshi-Sofi said they are planning a grand opening for Sept. 7. “We have fallen in love with downtown,” she said. “Your have to really love what you do to make things happen.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Six GEM Fellows study at INL this summer

INL’s first GEM Fellows (from left): Jordan Galloway, Denise Owusu, Stephanie Jones, Diana Perales, Terrence Buck (program manager), Malik Hayes, Jorge Ramirez
As part of Idaho National Laboratory’s inclusive diversity efforts, the lab has recruited its first cohort of GEM Fellows. The six students arrived in June to begin their internship experience.

Established in the mid-1970s, the National GEM Consortium’s mission is to increase the involvement of underrepresented talent pursuing advanced degrees in science and engineering. GEM interns work as paid summer interns while completing their studies, offering public- and private-sector employers the opportunity to assess their abilities. The GEM partnership allows the laboratory to develop grant proposals with underrepresented universities, encouraging some to become GEM schools.

Terrence Buck, an INL senior inclusion and diversity consultant, manages the GEM program at the laboratory. A New York native, he has been a GEM board member for 15 years and brought the program to INL when he started working at the laboratory last May.

“The program is designed to identify, recruit and bring underrepresented talent to STEM,” he said. “The three most underrepresented groups are blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans. By recruiting these GEM Fellows to INL, we are providing them real hands-on experience at a leading research institution. Ultimately, we would like to see these experiences translate into full-time positions here at INL.”

Representatives from INL’s senior leadership team and the GEM CEO met last August to discuss INL’s mission and vision and determine if GEM and INL were a good match. “The team decided it was a good fit,” said Buck. “These fellowship interns will bring their unique backgrounds and innovative ideas to INL.”

The following are the first six GEM Fellows to begin their intern experience at INL:

Jordan Galloway, University of California, Merced
Field of Study: Chemistry, Ph.D.
INL Mentor: Dr. Shannon Bragg-Sitton

Malik Hayes, Georgia Institute of Technology
Field of Study: Computer Science, M.S.
Virginia Wright

Stephanie Jones, Northwestern University
Field of Study: Computer Science, Ph.D.
INL Mentor: Virginia Wright

Denise Owusu, Carnegie Mellon University
Field of Study: Energy Engineering & Technology Innovation Management, M.S.
INL Mentor: Dr. Shannon Bragg-Sitton

Diana Perales, Purdue University
Field of Study: Chemistry, Ph.D.
INL Mentor: Dr. Russell Watson

Jorge Ramirez, Purdue University
Field of Study: Materials Science, Ph.D.
INL Mentor: Dr. Gabriel Ilevbare

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fall River Electric board names new director

Jeff Keay
Fall River Electric’s Board of Directors has selected Jeff Keay of Island Park to fill the remaining two years of board member Ralph Burton’s term, which expires in June 2020.

Burton moved from the area, leaving a vacancy the board was required to fill by appointment. Keay was one of four candidates who were interviewed by the full board. He lives in District 8, which comprises members residing in northern Island Park.

Keay is the retired deputy regional director of the U.S. Geological Survey, where he guided 13 scientific research centers with 1,500 employees in five western states. He holds a doctorate in wildlife resources from the University of Idaho. Keay has extensive experience in budgeting, ethical and safety issues, as well as policy development and implementation.

“Jeff’s experience and background will provide a new and exciting
dimension to our board. We look forward to his future contributions,” said Fall River Electric CEO/General Manager Bryan Case.

Fall River Electric’s board of directors consists of nine members from all parts of the co-op’s service territory. Each board member is elected to a three-year term by the owner-members. The board manages the business and provides direction to the co-op’s CEO, who has the responsibility for managing the day-to-day affairs.

The board meets monthly at the cooperative’s headquarters in Ashton. The minutes of their meetings are posted on the co-op’s website, www.fallriverelectric.com.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Planet Doom eyes September opening

It might be early August, but I know people who are planning their Halloween decorations right now — it’s that big a deal to them. Then there’s Brent and Brian Wilson, who are in a whole different league.

Commercial real estate agents by day (with Thornton Oliver Keller, a BizMojo Idaho supporter) the Wilsons are the driving force behind Planet Doom, 680 First Street, now Idaho’s largest all-indoor haunted attraction. For years it was Dr. Slaughter’s House of Terror, a creative non-profit project to benefit the Idaho Falls D.A.R.E. program. When that closed in March, after 18 years, Brent Wilson said he and Brian saw an opportunity.

“(We) used to build home haunts in Florida. When Brian relocated to Idaho Falls in 2015 we started doing it again because we love haunted houses.”

In 2017, their home haunt was voted “Best International Haunt” (Canadian Haunters Association) and “Best Walkthrough Haunt” (Halloween Yard Haunts and Props). They donated the proceeds to Snake River Animal Shelter.

The old Dr. Slaughter’s offered them a bigger, scarier venue. With the new signs up, they are continuing to remodel the prior haunted maze inside the 32,000 square foot location. they are planning to open in September.

Proceeds from Planet Doom will continue to benefit D.A.R.E. The Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/planetdoomhaunt.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Blaze Pizza, Costa Vida opening in Sandcreek Commons

Blaze Pizza and Costa Vida will be the next national tenants at the 40-acre Sandcreek Commons in Ammon, the second largest shopping center in eastern Idaho.

These eateries will fill most of Sandcreek’s 12th structure, which is now under construction along Sunnyside Road, said Eric Isom, chief development officer at Ball Ventures, the Idaho Falls developer of Sandcreek Commons.

The 8,600-square-foot retail strip still has 2,600-square-feet in the center of the building available for one or two tenants. Construction started at the beginning of June. Isom said he expects Blaze and Costa Vida to open in late fall.

The architect is Dixon & Associates of Salt Lake City, the designer of several of the Sandcreek Commons structures. The general contractor is R. Jay Taylor Construction of Ammon.

Blaze Pizza has four locations in Idaho. The first was built in Meridian in 2014, and others followed soon after in Boise, Nampa  and Twin Falls. Established in Pasadena, Calif., in 2012, ith more than 270 locations in 40 states, Blaze Pizza is the second-fastest-growing restaurant chain in the nation, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.

Costa Vida is a Utah-based chain that opened in 2003. With a heavy concentration in the Intermountain West, it has franchise locations as far east as Chicago and several on the West Coast.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Goddard named Bank of Idaho branch manager

Goddard
Jennifer Goddard has been named retail branch manager of Bank of Idaho’s downtown Idaho Falls branch, at 399 N. Capital Ave. Goddard has 25 years experience in the credit union industry and brings “a wealth of experience and a sterling reputation to the table,” a company news release said.

Goddard’s duties will involve management of retail deposits, loans, and operations at the Capital branch. A Rexburg native, she hopes to contribute to the bank’s strategic plan of expanding its small business portfolio. Goddard is active in the community, serving on the board of the Idaho Falls Senior Citizens Center. For more information, call 208-524-5500.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Strip mall going in behind 17th Street Dutch Bros

Construction of a strip mall in the ShopKo parking lot, behind the 17 Street Dutch Bros.
We had a question over the weekend from one of our faithful readers, Julia Townsend, about the building going up behind the Dutch Bros on 17th Street.

I wish we had something more exciting to report, but it is a 4,718-square-foot strip mall that’s going up as part of the Dutch Bros development. The site plan was filed with the Idaho Falls Building Department in April, but approved on July 3, which is why we’ve only been seeing action in the last two weeks.

The owner is listed as Needles Eye Holding of Eagle, and the architect is HB Architecture of Nampa.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

U.S. Chamber of Commerce report projects tariffs' effects on Idaho exports

Over the years, the State of Idaho has spent millions of dollars cultivating exports of everything from dehydrated potatoes to pumice to computer chips. In the midst of projecting what the effects of the emerging trade war might be, here comes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with a state-by-state breakdown.

The article’s headline, “Trade Works. Tariffs Don’t” sums up the view of the chamber (which I might add is hardly a hotbed of liberalism).

Canada has targeted $104 million for higher tariffs, including preparations for perfuming and deodorizing rooms ($19 million), fungicides ($16 million) and sauces, mixed condiments and seasonings ($15 million).

Mexico has targeted $36 million in Idaho products, including potatoes ($15 million exported annually), cheese ($14 million) and iron and steel ($2.7 million).

China has targeted $42 million in Idaho exports, including whey and modified whey ($36 million), dried and shelled peas ($3.8 million) and “products of natural milk constituents” ($2.2 million).

Europe has targeted dried kidney beans and white pea beans ($8.2 million), cold rolled tubes and pipes ($192,000), and iron or steel tanks over 300 liter capacity ($131,000).

Overall, the chamber report estimates 202,200 Idaho jobs are supported by trade, and that new tariffs threaten $190,732,525 in exports. We might also consider that farm equipment is going to be a lot more expensive, since the price of steel has risen 40 percent since January. And the bond your city passed to build that new school? The bids from contractors are likely to come in a lot higher now.

For a more detailed breakdown, follow this link: https://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/tariff_data/one_pagers/id.pdf

Monday, July 9, 2018

1 Fine Cafe opening at old Babe's Bakery location

Remodeling inside the 1 Fine Cafe location on Channing Way.
Babe’s Bakery is gone, but it looks like its longtime location at 1900 Channing Way is soon going to be the home of 1 Fine Cafe. They are shooting for a Sept. 1 opening.

The operators are billing it as a fast casual restaurant offering dishes that feature their handcrafted breads. “Fast casual” means customers order at the counter and have their food and drink delivered to their tables. Wine and beer will be sold. There will be a designated floor person providing service to patrons by making sure their needs/wants (water and coffee refills, plate clearing, condiment fetching, etc.) are met.

This is from their Facebook page: “The cool twist to the cafe is customers (adults included) are encouraged to draw, sketch, or paint on provided paper canvases that cover the tables and easels placed around the restaurant. The art media will include colored and graphite pencils, crayons, and watercolor paints (easels only). Aprons will be provided to protect clothing. The idea is for people to do something interesting and fun while they wait for their food. There will be a wall displaying some of the art that customers complete.”

There will be breads, danish, and sweets for retail sale. The menus are available for review at http://www.1finecafe.com. Menus are subject to change and will vary with the seasons, with lighter fare in spring and summer, more comfort food in the fall and winter. For more information, call (970) 389-9569.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Idaho Falls Power to hold program at Museum of Idaho

Idaho Falls Power will be at the Museum of Idaho Friday to promote electricity with demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The demonstrations will highlight how electricity is generated, specifically hydroelectricity, and how electrical circuits work.

Idaho Falls Power is currently sponsoring the Museum of Idaho’s Discover Steampunk Mary Shelley Gallery that focuses on electricity. This exhibit which features the work of Frankenstein (celebrating its 200th anniversary) by Mary Shelley with interactive stations highlighting amperage, voltage, and magnetism, the electrical principles essential to Shelley’s work and the electrophysiology, which inspired Victor Frankenstein to pass electrical current through his creation to give it life.

The Discover Steampunk exhibit focuses on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics) content, interactivity, and historic artifacts on loan from the Franklin Institute. This exhibit invites visitors on a re-imagined journey, where they can learn about the convergence of science, art, technology, and history. In addition, the exhibition excites visitors to pursue their passions and work together to create a better future.

Idaho Falls Power has a limited number of tickets available for the museum this weekend.
If anyone has questions or for free tickets, contact IFP at 208-612-8436.

Friday, June 29, 2018

New director named for Idaho Falls Power

Bear Prairie
The Idaho Falls City Council voted unanimously Thursday to appoint Bear Prairie as the new general manager of Idaho Falls Power.


Prairie has worked for Idaho Falls Power since 2010, and his latest role has been as assistant general manager. With more than 20 years of experience in the energy industry, Prairie started his career in energy at the Idaho Power Co. in Boise.  He has extensive experience and expertise in commodity trading and management of a broad range of energy products.

"(In) his role as assistant general manager for IFP, Mr. Prairie has been professionally prepared to step in and lead the utility," Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper said. "He is eminently qualified to lead any energy utility in the county and we are very fortunate that he has chosen to continue his career here with us.”

Prairie has helped manage the daily operation of Idaho Falls Power’s four hydroelectric dams, 450 miles of distribution lines and service to over 28,000 customers including a fiber optic communication business. He was also responsible for the utility’s long rage power supply planning, power operations, resource development and risk management.

The city has set his annual salary at $225,000. Prairie will take over from the longtime general manger, Jackie Flowers, who is departing to take leadership of Tacoma Public Utilities in Washington. Her last day with Idaho Falls Power will be July 20.

“I am humbled to be chosen to fill Jackie’s shoes. She has provided great leadership to the team and vision to the utility,” Prairie said.  “I plan to continue to listen to the community, as she did, so we are well positioned to continue delivering services.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Flowers announces she is leaving Idaho Falls Power for job in Tacoma, Wash.

Jackie Flowers
I don’t think I’m alone when I say the best thing Jared Fuhriman may have done as mayor of Idaho Falls was hiring Jackie Flowers to run Idaho Falls Power, the city-owned utility.

Flowers, who came from Sheridan, Wyo., in July 2006, has tendered her resignation and is headed to Tacoma, Wash., to become that city’s director of public utilities. Her last day at Idaho Falls Power will be July 20. The move came as no surprise to anyone. Her youngest child, Mary, graduated from Idaho Falls High School this year. Considering her talent and reputation, I imagine there were a lot of bigger cities courting her.

“Jackie has not only served the utility well, she also served the community as president of the board for Partnership for Science and Technology, as a board member for EIRMC and as president of the Rotary Club,” said Mayor Rebecca Casper, in a press release. “(Her) tenure here at the city was one of great accomplishment and our city is a better place for her years of service. She will be missed by many throughout the community.”

Flowers led the utility in several major structural rebuilds, including the old lower plant, the dredging of sedimentation at the upper plant, as well as the advanced metering infrastructure upgrade. On her watch the utility accomplished these major renovations under budget and without significant disruptions in service to customers.

Idaho Falls Power also paid off major 30-year bonds in 2015, the same year the utility celebrated its 115-year anniversary. In 2017, the utility achieved RP3 status, an elite award for public power utilities celebrating reliability and safety.

The last 12 years have seen dramatic changes in electrical power distribution. One of Flowers’ first initiatives when she arrived was persuading the community to pass $26 million in bonds to fund Idaho Falls’ share in a new coal-fired plant, IPP-3, being planned near Delta, Utah. The effort was being led by Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), a power wholesaling consortium in which Idaho Falls takes part. The concern at the time was for reliable baseload power, because Idaho Falls’ longstanding relationship with the Bonneville Power Administration was changing. Power for shaving peaks in the summer months was needed, and the concern was for avoiding high prices on the open market.

Idaho Falls voters approved the bonds, but IPP-3 ended up never getting built. Because of wind and solar coming onto the grid, the concern has been less with big baseload producers and more with balancing load with power that can be ramped up and scaled down fast, one reason for natural gas' ascendency. Eastern Idaho got a good lesson in balancing with the power outage of December 2013, which left a lot of people shivering in the cold for hours.

That was when Idaho Falls started talking to INL about studying microgrids and “islanding,” looking for ways to incorporate its run-of-river hydro with other sources to guarantee reliability when things get sketchy. With Idaho Falls Power and UAMPS, which she headed as president, Flowers has lent support for the small modular reactor NuScale is planning to have up and running at the Department of Energy’s Idaho site by the middle of the next decade. This is something the whole world is going to be watching.

One of the important roles Flowers helped fill was to develop a solid leadership team through training, development and involvement in leadership roles in industry organizations, with a strong focus on succession planning for the organization.

“It has been my privilege to work with the talented team at Idaho Falls Power as we have together served the citizens of Idaho Falls,” Flowers said in her letter. “You have a very talented, dedicated team of professionals … who take great pride in their work and in the fact that they continue the legacy of electric service to our community.”

Casper is expected to nominate a replacement for Flowers and to ask the City Council to approve the appointment at the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting.



Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Kirkham named REDI CEO

Dana Kirkham
Regional Economic Development Inc. (REDI) for Eastern Idaho has named former Ammon Mayor Dana Kirkham as its new chief executive officer. Kirkham had been the organization's Science, Technology and Research director since September 2017, and is replacing Jan Rogers, who is retiring as her three-year contract expires.

"My experience working on behalf of Eastern Idaho and growing the region's economy as STAR Director will enable me to move seamlessly into the CEO position," Kirkham said in a news release from the organization. "REDI will continue to promote economic development and market the region to ensure economic growth in the years ahead."

REDI chairman Park Price said Kirkham is a natural successor. "During her time as STAR Director, Dana has demonstrated she is a quick study and a trusted leader. She has the full and enthusiastic support of the board," Price said in the release.

REDI represents 14 counties in eastern Idaho and is focused on job growth, industry retention and business development.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ahhhsome Relaxation adds Halotherapy Cabins

Halotherapy cabins at Ahhhsome Relaxation in Ammon
Ahhhsome Relaxation has added three Halotherapy Cabins to its facility at 939 South 25th East #115 in Ammon. These Halotherapy Cabins were imported from Estonia and the first to open in Idaho.

Centuries ago, European monks noticed when they treated respiratory ailments in natural salt caverns, their patients got better faster. The monks produced salt dust by grinding salt rocks against each other, which the patients then inhaled.

Dr. Felix Bochkowsky, the state authority for occupational health in Polish industry in the 1840s, saw the same thing was true with miners: while metal and coal miners battled relentless, deadly respiratory ailments, workers in salt mines were healthier than average people, let alone other miners.
In 1843, he published a book about the health benefits of salt dust. His successor, Mstislav Poljakowski, followed by establishing the first salt clinic near Krakow, Poland, which is still in operation today.

By the 1950s, scientific studies (primarily in the USSR) were proving how effective salt therapy is in treating respiratory ailments. Manmade, above-ground Saltrooms provided a controlled environment, and Halotherapy (from “halo”, Greek for salt) became a new option for respiratory treatment.
The first Halotherapy salt chambers opened in the 1960s in Eastern Europe. They were destination health sanatoriums and respiratory hospitals, paid for by the socialized medical system of those countries. As Halotherapy grew more popular in the 1980s and 1990s, health and beauty resorts throughout Europe and Scandinavia began to install Saltrooms and offer Halotherapy as one of their restorative treatments.

Halotherapy is an exposure to kinetically activated dry salt where the micro sized particles are being inhaled while the large salt particles are spread on the top of the skin.  Since dry salt is antibacterial and super absorbent it actively kills bacteria, reduces the inflammation in the respiratory system, and widens the airways for better breathing.

Medical studies in Europe and Russia have confirmed that Halotherapy is safe and that the benefits of Halotherapy are accumulative.  It helps children effectively manage existing respiratory conditions, support better breathing, and build a stronger immune system.  Regular Halotherapy, two or three times a week, can help prevent the common coughs, colds, runny noses, earaches and skin rashes. In addition, regular Halotherapy also calms the nervous system and helps children to focus better in school as well as sleep better at night.  Many adults and children suffering from asthma, allergies, cystic fibrosis, COPD, or other respiratory conditions found that Halotherapy sessions  helped manage respiratory problems and reduce the intake of respiratory medications.

“Our mission has always been to help our members improve their health and now we have another way to specifically help with many types of respiratory conditions without the negative side effects often experienced from prescription drugs,” said Alyce Jeppesen, co-owner of Ahhhsome Relaxation, which has been open since November 2015. More information can be found on their website at www.ahhhsomerelaxation.com.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Visiting Angels of Eastern Idaho hires marketing director

Wendy Spradley
Visiting Angels of Eastern Idaho has hired Wendy Spradley as director of marketing. A seasoned marketing and sales leader in the senior home care industry, she was responsible for market expansion for First Choice Home Health & Hospice in Ogden, Utah. She has worked in various capacities in multiple Visiting Angels locations in the Salt Lake City market, including marketing, administration, community relations, partner channel development and caregiving.

Spradley is also founder/owner of Signature Marketing, a marketing consulting agency in Northern Utah (now operated by her daughter). Wendy’s passion to serve the senior and veterans communities is represented through her service with the Alzheimer’s Association, Round to Honor, The Inn Between and other charitable organizations.

“I was a part of Visiting Angels previously in my career and have always had a love for the service they provide our seniors,” she said. “Visiting Angles of Eastern Idaho has a very kind and caring approach in the way they serve the senior community. That, combined with the way their caregivers talk about loving to work there, told me I want to be a part of this journey.”