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:

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 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

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.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Melaleuca taking applications for free IT Boot Camp for teens

This is the third year for Melaleuca's free Information Technology Boot Camp.
Melaleuca is now accepting applications for high school students to participate in a free Information Technology Boot Camp this summer.

Twenty-five high school students from across eastern Idaho will be chosen to attend the free five-day workshop, which offers a hands-on IT experience. Now in its third year, the camp will run July 30-Aug. 3 at the Melaleuca Global Headquarters, south of Idaho Falls.

Returning to lead the camp is Rex Barzee, who chairs BYU-Idaho's Computer Information Technology Department. Under his direction, students will spend the week learning how to create their own smartphone apps and build interactive webpages that use animation, calculations, Visual Studio software, and other IT tools.

"Melaleuca created this hands-on technology camp in an effort to help students develop into leaders of innovation while educating them about the exciting and meaningful opportunities within the field of information technology," said Melaleuca's Chief Information Officer Todd Sorenson. "We want more of Idaho's students to be thoroughly prepared for these opportunities, and we believe that strengthening their foundation in computer science will serve them in securing rewarding careers in science and technology."

Throughout the week, Barzee and two teaching assistants will help the students develop their apps and create webpages using a variety of software, including C#, .NET, and iOS. Students will also be treated to guest lectures and personal tutoring from Melaleuca's IT executives.

Melaleuca relies heavily on IT innovation and implementation to achieve its business goals. Camp attendees will gain an inside look into the various ways technology is used at a $2 billion global enterprise.

"Based on the high level of interest and students' positivity about this program, we know that many Idaho students are passionate about innovation and technology," Sorenson said. "This has been a fun program, and we are regularly impressed with the previous students' ingenuity and abilities."

Because space is limited, the camp is designed specifically for students intending to graduate high school by 2020. As the camp's host and sponsor, Melaleuca will select applicants based on their interest in IT, their experience with computer programming, relevant coursework and GPA.

Applications are being accepted until June 27 and can be submitted online by visiting If you are interested or have questions about the camp, email

Monday, June 11, 2018

Cardamom Restaurant planned for downtown Earl Building

The inside of the building at 501 Park Avenue late last week. This is where Pachanga's used to be.
The remodel going on in the Earl Building, at 501 Park Avenue, is for the Cardamom Restaurant. A building permit for remodeling of 2,945 square feet got the OK from the city of Idaho Falls Building Department in mid-May.

The business owner listed on the building plans is Sheba Bakshi-Sofi, who according to her LinkedIn profile, spent close to 10 years at Melaleuca before leaving in April to pursue this endeavor. Before that, she was with ConAgra Foods and Nestle.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Submissions open for Idaho Innovation Awards

Submissions are now being accepted to the 13th annual Idaho Innovation Awards. The annual awards program is presented by Stoel Rives LLP, Trailhead, and the Idaho Technology Council. The program recognizes innovations, innovative professionals and companies throughout the Gem State.
Entries are being accepted through July 31.

Nominations from any industry will be accepted in the following categories:

Commercialized Innovation of the Year. This category recognizes innovations from established companies that are commercialized, on the market contributing to the local economy, and generating revenue.

Consumer Product of the Year. This category recognizes new concepts, technologies or products that fill a niche or meet market needs and have the potential to revolutionize the process, product, segment or scientific field.

Early-Stage Innovation of the Year. This category recognizes innovations that are less than five years old, that have not been commercialized or are not generating revenue, and that are from companies or nonprofit/academic entities such as a university technology transfer office.

Innovative Company of the Year. This category recognizes innovative companies—through culture, management, products or services, technology and/or marketing—that have used an innovative solution to overcome a challenge or obstacle and that have a unique, clear and relevant strategy in using innovation as a means to achieve their strategic goals.

Innovator of the Year. This category recognizes innovative professionals—women and men who demonstrate innovative characteristics and thinking in their careers, accomplishments and leadership.

For more information on the program, visit and follow the conversation at #IdahoInnovationAwards.

Winners will be announced Oct. 18 at the Idaho Technology Council Hall of Fame ceremony at Boise Centre.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Idaho Falls names new airport director

Rick Cloutier
The city of Idaho Falls has hired Rick Cloutier as the new director of Idaho Falls Regional Airport. The hiring was approved by the City Council at its regular meeting Thursday night.

Cloutier is expected to begin on or before July 2, at an annual salary of $125,000. He has an extensive background in airport administration, most recently serving as assistant director of airports at Myrtle Beach International Airport, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

His professional experience also includes municipal management experience in both general and commercial aviation, and as a private pilot.  Prior to his career in airport administration, Cloutier served for 20 years in the United States Marine Corps. He holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of Maine.

“I am confident Mr. Cloutier will serve well as a valuable member of the city’s leadership team,” said Idaho Falls Mayor Casper.  “His successful record of accomplishment will bring much to IDA and enable this particular city enterprise to continue to grow and build and improve air service, not just for the citizens of Idaho Falls but for all of eastern Idaho.”

Besides expertise in general aviation, Cloutier also has expertise in federal/FAA reporting and compliance, TSA security regulations, FBO oversight, ground transportation, and airport real estate management.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

DOE names Peters Laboratory Director of the Year

Dr. Mark Peters
The U.S. Department of Energy has selected Dr. Mark Peters as the Laboratory Director of the Year for his commitment to partnering small businesses with Idaho National Laboratory.

Peters stood out as an exceptional candidate among the various laboratory directors within the Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC) for meeting all of INL’s small business goals in fiscal year 2017, according to a press release from the lab. The DOE’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) selects recipients for various awards under the Annual Small Awards Business Program for the previous fiscal year.

The OSDBU will present the awards during the 17th Annual DOE Small Business Forum & Expo in Houston, Texas, May 22-24.

In fiscal year 2017, the INL Small Business Program exceeded all of its annual procurement goals. INL prioritized strengthening its partnership with small business, paying particular attention to businesses in Idaho. Small business goals are part of the DOE contract, and each year new goals are negotiated to determine what percentage of procurement volume is to be set aside.

“These accomplishments help ensure the lab and government have access to the best competitive rates while supporting a sufficient small business base to ensure quality delivery of services and products,” said Rick Provencher, DOE-Idaho Operations Office manager.

Charles Smith, director of OSDBU, congratulated Peters and the laboratory on furthering the department’s mission to be a leader in providing contract and subcontract opportunities to small businesses.

“Small businesses generate innovation and technical solutions that contribute towards the fulfillment of our national security and energy missions,” Smith said. “This award recognizes the efforts and commitment of DOE’s small business advocates who take every opportunity to utilize small business concerns to meet its requirements.”

“I am honored to receive this award,” Peters said. “At INL, we believe that small businesses are an indispensable asset to the energy industry, enabling us to fulfill our mission and vision. This collaboration between the businesses and the laboratory would not have been possible without the diligent efforts of INL’s Small Business Program, and we are grateful that the program’s accomplishments will be recognized.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Pop's Ice Cream opens on Park Avenue

Jennifer and Steve Jones, owners of Pop's Ice Cream.
Just in time for summer — and Alive After 5 — Pop’s Ice Cream is open at 475 Park Avenue, right between the Center Theater and La Vanilla Bean.

“I think every kid dreams of having an ice cream or candy store,” said Jennifer Jones, who owns the shop with her husband, Steve. The Joneses are shaping up as true believers in downtown Idaho Falls. In addition to Pop’s, they own Idaho Escape Rooms, also on Park Avenue, which has expanded from one to four rooms since opening in 2016.

Jennifer Jones said she sees plenty going in the downtown district that is encouraging. The Broadway project, at Capital and Broadway, is due to be open in the fall. Across Park Avenue the space is being developed into a reception center, and around the corner, in the Rogers Building, the third floor is being developed into 12 residential lofts similar to the ones on Shoup Avenue above Happy’s.

“It’s such a fun place, and the Downtown Development people have been so supportive of everyone,” she said.

For Pop’s, the Joneses serve 24 flavors of Russell’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream and 12 flavors of Mountain Fresh Italian Ice. The eating area is 700 square feet with seven tables. The color of the walls is “Pepto Pink,” and the logo was done by the Joneses’ daughter, Blair Kolbet.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Bank of Idaho CEO to speak at Chamber series in June

Jeff Newgard
Jeff Newgard, president and CEO of Bank of Idaho, will be the featured speaker June 28 at the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce’s CEO Speaker Series.

The event is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Waterfront at Snake River Landing, 1220 Event Center Drive in Idaho Falls. Questions from audience members will be taken.

Newgard came to Bank of Idaho in July 2015 from HomeStreet Bank, where he was responsible for management and strategic expansion throughout central and eastern Washington. He had joined HomeStreet with the company’s acquisition of Yakima National Bank, where he had served as president and chief executive officer.

He has held a number of leadership positions in regional and community banking since 1998. Newgard is a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking (Colorado) and holds a Masters of Business Administration from Washington State University and a bachelor’s degree from Walla Walla College.

In the community he currently serves as Area 5 Chair of the Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve, also on the Independent Community Bankers’ of America Select Committee on Cyber Security, the Idaho Falls Symphony Board, and War Bonnet Rodeo Board of Directors.

There is no charge for the event, but space is limited. RSVP to
to reserve a spot.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Old Bubba's BBQ on First Street being remodeled into Adam & Eve

After sitting vacant for at least a year, the old Bubba's/Dad's property at First Street and Northgate Mile is being radically repurposed into Adam & Eve, a lingerie and adult toy store.
The building at 118 First Street, formerly Bubba’s then Dad’s barbecue, is being remodeled into Adam & Eve, a store with 2,454 square feet of retail space, two changing rooms and an office.

The building permit, which was granted by the city of Idaho Falls in late April, lists Kraig and Kara McGee as the business owners and Resin Architecture, an Idaho Falls firm, as the architect.

As you might surmise from the name Adam & Eve, the business is of a mature nature. With stores all over the United States, Adam & Eve bills itself on its website as “America's #1 Trusted Source for Sex Toys.”

The McGees started with a store in Nampa in 2007, expanded to Coeur d’Alene in 2009, and Boise in 2010. (This says a lot when you consider the shape the economy was at the time.) They have since expanded to Pocatello, and were interviewed last year by Ted Vayos of Body Magazine. You can follow the link to that interview here,, or if you’re too lazy to click through here are a few of their comments:

“Our Adam & Eve Stores are well-lit, clean and organized. We pride ourselves in creating a comfortable and safe environment for women and couples to explore and learn about what products are available to them, and to provide a professional atmosphere when purchasing any item. …

“The striking improvement over the “old school” adult store makes for a much more appealing and fun shopping experience. From the friendly, knowledgeable staff, to the wide variety of products, to the clean and classy store appearance, we easily outperform our competitors.”

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Montana & Idaho Community Development shortens name

Dave Glaser
Montana & Idaho Community Development Corp. has changed its name to MoFi, a name intended to better represent its expanding geographic footprint and product line, said Dave Glaser, the company’s president.

MoFi provides financing and consulting services to business and communities that are just outside the financial mainstream, with solutions including business lending and tax credit financing for businesses, non-profits and real estate developments.

In 2017, MoFi provided over $11 million in small-business financing to businesses that were unable to access traditional bank capital, with roughly half that amount going to Idaho borrowers. It expects that amount to increase in 2018. It has also been responsible for catalyzing multiple projects using New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), a program of the U.S. Treasury that is designed to incentivize investment and development in economically underserved areas. Since 2012, MoFi has used NMTC to support over $150 million in projects in Idaho, including Fresca Mexican Foods (Caldwell), Golden Valley Natural (Shelley), Hemming Cedars (Rexburg), Kootenai Health (Coeur d’Alene), Targhee Professional Services (Rexburg), Western States Caterpillar (Pocatello), and Idaho Burger Grill (St. Anthony).

Glaser said the new name came after recent expansions into Wyoming, Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon.

“For over 30 years, we have aggressively grown our organization to meet the needs of low- and middle-income people in our region,” he said. “But for many, the inequality of opportunity continues to grow. We’ve realized that the people we serve need more, so we’re responding to the need for flexible, responsible capital by expanding our reach. In addition to Montana and Idaho, we are now serving Wyoming, eastern Washington and eastern Oregon. We look forward to continuing our work with the hardworking people and communities of Idaho in pursuit of our mission, which remains unchanged: to transform the lives of individuals and strengthen community prosperity.”

Last fall, MoFi relocated and expanded its Boise office, led by Ben Wright, Director of Consulting Services. Wright oversees the organization’s asset management division, which provides technical support to loan clients, including free bookkeeping and accounting services, connecting them with marketing and advertising grants, providing management advice and helping them establish a lasting relationship with a local bank.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Orangetheory Fitness opening in Sandcreek Commons

Orange Theory Fitness will be opening in Ammon’s Sandcreek Commons shopping center early this summer. The 3,600-square-foot fitness center will be at 2678 E Sunnyside Road near Broulim’s Fresh Foods, Bill’s Bike & Run, Lunchbox Wax, Hobby Lobby and others. The business is owned by J&J Fitness IF, LLC.

OrangeTheory Fitness’ concept is the one-hour full-body workout. The gym offers trainer-led classes all day for all levels of fitness. Based in Boca Raton, Fla., it offers group personal training workouts based on high intensity interval training (HIIT) that blend cardiovascular and strength training.

The Ammon location marks the 1,049th location for the chain, which was named the fastest-growing woman-owned company in 2017 by Forbes and brought in $451 million in revenue in 2016.

“We are eagerly anticipating the opening of the new OrangeTheory Fitness,” says Sandcreek Commons Chief Development Officer Eric Isom. “OrangeTheorgy will be a wonderful addition to the center and to the Ammon community.”

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

CEI names dean of student affairs

Michael Walker
Michael J. Walker has been named dean of student affairs for College of Eastern Idaho (CEI). He comes to eastern Idaho from Utah Valley University, where he has held leadership and teaching positions since 2008, including instructor, assistant director and, most recently, director. He launched UVU’s professional education program (certifications and workforce training) in 2015. From 2009 to 2015, he served as assistant administrator for the UVU Wasatch Campus in Heber City, facilitating student and faculty services.

Walker holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Brigham Young University, and a master’s in higher education and student affairs from Utah State University. He is working on his doctorate in education (instructional leadership) with Utah State University. His research focuses on concurrent and dual enrollment. He has taught more than 60 collegiate courses in history, ethics and the humanities for over ten years, having taught at UVU, USU, and Salt Lake Community College.

Monday, April 30, 2018

NuScale plan for small modular reactor in Idaho clears regulatory hurdle

NuScale began life as a spinoff company based on research conducted by Oregon State University professor Jose Reyes. (NuScale Power photo)
NuScale Power's plans for a small modular reactor west of Idaho Falls has cleared another regulatory hurdle, as the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has completed the first and most intensive phase of review for the company’s design certification application.

This is the first and only SMR application to ever undergo NRC review. The NRC is expected to certify NuScale’s design, and the company’s first customer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems -- of which Idaho Falls Power is a member -- is planning a 12-module SMR plant to be in operation by the mid-2020s.

“We are thankful for the rigorous review of our revolutionary nuclear design and greatly appreciate the government recognizing the importance of furthering NuScale’s advancement,” said the company's power chairman and chief executive officer, John Hopkins. “Our technology means significant economic and job benefits for the country and it’s positioned to revitalize the domestic nuclear industry by virtue of NuScale’s affordable, flexible, and safe solution to providing zero-carbon energy.”

During the 115,000 hours the NRC spent reviewing the application, it issued far fewer requests for additional information compared to other DCAs, validating in NuScale's view the simplicity of the design and quality of the application.

On a separate but related front, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy announced Friday it was awarding NuScale $40 million in cost-sharing financial assistance. The federal award supports early-stage research and development and the industry’s embrace of these technologies, with the stated goal of promoting U.S. energy independence, electricity grid resiliency, national security, and clean baseload power.

Headquartered in Portland, Ore., NuScale, majority-owned by Fluor Corp., has already received more than $200 million in federal support. The $40 million award announced Friday, the lion's share of $60 million doled out under the DOE’s new "U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology" program, comes with an equivalent cost share.

In a Portland Business Journal story, NuScale Director of Communications Mariam Nabizad said the company has "commitments from private investors to cover the NuScale $40 million portion of the DOE award." She added that the company "looks to continue to seek additional investment beyond our DOE cost share award to provide the funding to complete our commercialization program."

In a Bloomberg story earlier this month, "First Small-Scale Nuclear Reactor May Be Just Eight Years Away," CFO Jay Surina said NuScale was looking for "deep-pocketed" individuals who could provide it up to $120 million in equity investment.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Freddy's gets new chief for Idaho restaurants

Eric Stine
Eric Stine of EMS Management will be the new principal in charge of the Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers locations in Idaho. Idaho's first Freddy's opened in 2014 in Meridian, and the chain has since expanded to Nampa, Idaho Falls, Caldwell, Chubbuck and Eagle. Stine is also part of the management team for the restaurant in Rexburg.
“Our focus is on high-quality food, genuine hospitality and maintaining a clean and comfortable atmosphere for guests of all ages,” Stine said.

Stine's was the first general manager at the first Freddy's location in Wichita, Kansas. His management team has more than 25 years of combined experience.

“We strive to provide fast, friendly service and premium quality food,” said Stine. “With the recent closing of our Boise location and Caldwell's restaurant being put up for lease, we are dedicated more than ever to building our Freddy's restaurants to be the place all our guests want to go. We want to be more than just another place to eat in the community by becoming familiar with our guests and their stories.”

Co-founded in 2002 by Scott Redler and Bill, Randy and Freddy Simon, Freddy’s opened its first location in Wichita. Today, 300 Freddy's restaurants serve 31 states across the nation from California to Pennsylvania, Virginia and down the East Coast states to Florida. Freddy’s has been named Franchise Times magazine’s 2018 Fast & Serious top 10, Entrepreneur’s 2018 Franchise 500 top 50, Inc. Magazine’s “Fastest-Growing Private Companies” 2017 list and many other nationwide and local industry awards.

Monday, April 23, 2018

INL honors inventors, achievements in 2017

Idaho National Laboratory held its annual Laboratory Director Awards reception Friday night in Idaho Falls, honoring outstanding research and development accomplishments in support of INL’s mission and highlighting achievements from 2017, including 20 newly issued patents and six copyright assertions.

"2017 was a year of achievement and success at INL, thanks to our dedicated employees," INL Laboratory Director Mark Peters said. "Tonight's ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate those achievements and express our gratitude. Congratulations to this year's winners, and to our entire workforce for what was truly a memorable year. I appreciate everyone's passion and hard work."

Rick Demmer, Harry Rollins and Robert Mariani were inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame at the five-patent level. Douglas Akers and Kevin Gering were inducted at the 10-patent level. 

The 2017 award recipients were:

  • Community Award: Mary Adamic

  • Inclusive Diversity Award: Theron McGriff

  • Leadership Award: Eric Dufek

  • Mission Advancement: Partnership and Collaboration Award: Consequence-driven, Cyber-informed Engineering Team: Curtis St. Michel, Robert Smith, Sarah Freeman, Amanda Belloff, Roya Gordon, Kara Turner, Jeffrey Klingler

  • Mission Enabling Individual Award: Gregory English

  • Mission Enabling Team Award: Advanced Test Reactor Electrical Upgrade Team: Scott Despain, Michael Corbridge, Benjamin England, Russ Howard

  • Laboratory Award for Early Career Exceptional Achievement: Aaron Craft

  • Laboratory Award for Exceptional Engineering Achievement: Craig Rieger

  • Laboratory Award for Exceptional Scientific Achievement: Masashi Shimada

  • Laboratory Award for Individual Lifetime Achievement in Science and Technology: Stephen G. Johnson

  • Inventor of the Year Award: Hussein Moradi

  • Research and Development Technician of the Year Award: James Milloway, Byron White

  • Operations Technician of the Year Award: Jordan Cox, Tiffany Schorzman

  • INL Vision Award: Irradiated Materials Characterization Laboratory Team: Emil Franklin, Aaron Balsmeier, Noel Duckwitz, Jeffery Bailey, Jayson Bush

  • INL Vision Award: No-Idle Motor Coach Team: Ira Pray, Jeffrey Brown, Michael Perez, Bill Ziegler, Colin Letham

Thursday, April 19, 2018

INL named finalist for two IT security awards

Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has been named a 2018 SC Award finalist by SC Media in recognition of exceptional information technology (IT) security. The two categories for which INL received recognition are Best IT Security-related Training Program and Best Security Team.

Selected by an expert panel of judges, the annual SC Awards are seen as the industry gold standard of accomplishment for cybersecurity professionals, products and services.

“INL’s cybersecurity team and training program focuses on people, processes and technology,” said INL Chief Information Officer Robert Hillier. “We differentiate ourselves by effectively utilizing multiple channels and platforms to secure our networks and train our employees on safe cyber practices.”

Team members realize that as threats evolve, they must continue to develop and manage an inclusive approach to protecting the organization’s data. Because the team has actively branded itself through proactive problem-solving, INL employees value them as a trusted resource, rather than an enforcement arm. Key to this success is evolving the team’s ability to be agile as they implement processes and controls, while remaining user friendly and whenever possible, invisible to end users.

Periodic cybersecurity training, disaster recovery planning and incident response exercises are key components to the lab’s success in the awareness and management of security risks. Incident response planning includes INL end users, management and IT professionals, and extends to other national laboratories and the Department of Energy.

"Helping organizations manage risk in ways which are cost-effective, user friendly, and mission enabling takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Ensuring the nation's lead nuclear energy laboratory can continue forward safely is no easy task," said INL Deputy Chief Information Officer Darren Van Booven. “In a field where this hard work is often underappreciated, it is very rewarding to see the team be recognized with such high honors.”

To view the complete list of winners and finalists, click here.

For over 25 years, SC Media has armed information security professionals with in-depth and unbiased information through timely news, comprehensive analysis, cutting-edge features, contributions from thought leaders, and independent product reviews in partnership with and for top-level information security executives and their technical teams.

Bill's Bike & Run plans grand opening Friday for Ammon store

Bill’s Bike & Run has scheduled a grand opening for its new Ammon location Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. It will start with ribbon cutting by the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Free grilled food and cold drinks will be served from 4 until 7. A large
bike and gear demo area will be open, and guests are invited to test out the all new Specialized Stumpjumper and Electric bikes. Attendees can enter raffles for free giveaways by participating in activities. Bill’s is also offering $10 additional “Bill’s Bucks” for each purchase of $100 or more.

The 1,200-square-foot store opened last November in the Sandcreek Commons shopping center. It is the second
location for Bill’s Bike & Run, which also has a shop in Snake River Landing in Idaho Falls.

Regular store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Bill’s Bike & Run of Ammon also offers community group runs starting from the shop beginning at 6:15 p.m. every Wednesday.

Bill’s Bike & Run has gained recognition over the decades through its support of community and youth programs, including Shop with a Cop and the Salvation Army, and has given away hundreds of restored bikes to underprivileged youth in the area.

The business dates back to 1947 when it was founded by Bill Murdock as Bill's Bike Shop, selling motorcycles and bicycles. In 2010, Gary Wight purchased the business from the Murdock family, and in 2012 the business moved to Snake River Landing, to a store much larger than its longtime Holmes Avenue location. The name change came in 2013, when products and services for runners were added.

Sandcreek Commons shopping center is a 40-acre joint venture between Ball Ventures, LLC of Idaho Falls and Woodbury Corp. of Salt Lake City, Utah. Located at Hitt Road and Sunnyside Road, it is home to Cabela’s, Hobby Lobby, Broulim’s Fresh Foods, D.L. Evans Bank, Zions Bank, Mountain American Credit Union, Great Clips, Wendy’s, 7 Nail Spa, Kneader’s Bakery & Café, Ferraro’s Italian Cuisine and others. Additional space is available for lease. For more information, call 208.523.3794 or visit

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

INL, State of Idaho break ground on two new research facilities

From INL Public Affairs

Officials from Idaho National Laboratory and the State of Idaho held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning on two new research facilities: the Cybercore Integration Center and the Collaborative Computing Center (C3).

Both buildings will be located off University Boulevard on Idaho Falls' north side, near the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, INL's Energy Innovation Laboratory, and ISU's Bennion Student Union Building.

The Cybercore Integration Center will host advanced electronics labs for industry, government and academia to work together to systematically engineer cyber and physical security innovations to protect the nation’s most critical infrastructure, for example the power grid.

The Collaborative Computing Center will provide a modern computing environment, hosting research collaborations and opportunities that would otherwise not be possible – a place where INL researchers, Idaho universities, and industry will explore computer modeling and simulation to develop new nuclear materials, advance nuclear energy concepts and conduct a broad span of scientific research.

“Supporting this collaboration is about much more than new facilities; we are investing in Idaho’s future,” Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said. “But in addition to the INL’s continuing economic importance, this partnership provides Idaho universities with an important edge in preparing tomorrow’s world leaders in cyber-security and nuclear energy research.”

The new facilities will help strengthen partnerships with Idaho universities by tailoring internships for students seeking advanced degrees in nuclear engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science, chemical engineering and computer science, INL Director Mark Peters said. “Students are the talent of the future, and we want to invest in their success. By offering these career-enhancing opportunities, everyone wins," Peters said.

Idaho State Board of Education will retain the economic benefit that will be created by the financing, construction, and operation of these facilities. Off-site computer users, such as students and faculty at Idaho’s universities and colleges, will also have remote access to the high-performance computing systems in the Collaborative Computing Center through the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON).

“This is an exceptional example of a public/private partnership working to advance the educational offerings across the entire state,” said Linda Clark, president of the Idaho State Board of Education.

Monday, April 9, 2018

It's unofficial: Idaho Falls Dutch Bros No. 1 to be open by early May

All smiles with the Dutch Bros crew on Woodruff Avenue. Though there is nothing official, word is they will be open by the first week of May.
For those of you who can't get enough news about Dutch Bros Coffee: I noticed people in the new store on Woodruff Avenue while leaving Winco Saturday, so I decided to go over and ask what's up. First things first: It smells really, really good. I poked my head through to chat and did not want to leave. Training is going on, and a crew has been hired, although they are still taking applications. Here's a link to the pdf:

The manager was not present, but the word from the crew was that while no official opening date has been set they are shooting for the first week in May. We will be monitoring this news as it develops, because we know how important it is to all of you. Since we posted the news on Nov. 1 it has received 63,772 pageviews, more than anything else we've ever posted, including Hobby Lobby.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

INL develops new petrochemical process involving less energy consumption, lower CO2 emissions

INL researchers Ting He (left) and Dong Ding have developed an electrochemical process for creating synthetic fuels and plastics that uses 65 percent less energy.
A team of Idaho National Laboratory researchers has pioneered a process they say could cut the energy consumption in petrochemical manufacturing by 65 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 98 percent.

Since the early 20th century, everything from gasoline and diesel fuel to plastics has been made by cracking complex hydrocarbon molecules found in oil, coal and natural gas with tremendous amounts of heat and pressure. In an article published last week in the scientific journal Energy and Environmental Science, the INL researchers report they’ve hit upon an electrochemical process for converting ethane in natural gas liquids to ethylene, which is used to make polymers for everything from cellphone cases to disposable diapers.

Ethane offers a simpler hydrocarbon to refine than oil. It can be converted to ethylene thermally, at temperatures of up to 850 Celsius, the same way as with oil. But the new process involves much lower temperatures, hence much less energy consumption, as it feeds ethane to the anode in an electrochemical membrane reactor. Electricity in the reactor separates protons (hydrogen ions) from the molecules, leaving ethylene. The protons themselves migrate through a dense electrolyte to the cathode, where they combine with electrons to form hydrogen gas.

INL's research is being conducted in conjunction with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Wyoming. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced in February that the project would receive funding as part of $35 million being awarded to early-stage innovative technologies for advanced manufacturing.

Several factors are driving the project, said INL researcher Dr. Dong Ding.  First, the shale gas revolution has provided a plentiful supply of natural gas at historically low prices. Second, the declining cost of electricity makes electrochemical refining more economically feasible.

Theoretically, if the process was to be powered by a renewable source and the captured hydrogen was incorporated into fuel cells, there could be a net gain in process energy, he said. From a CO2 standpoint, using a non-carbon source of electricity — nuclear, hydro, wind or solar — could cut the carbon footprint down to 2 percent of traditional production methods.

The INL team will focus next on how to convert methane into ethylene. Methane is also found in natural gas — more plentifully than ethane, in fact — but its carbon-hydrogen bond is harder to break, Ding said.

Peer reviewers for the Energy & Environmental Science article called the work "convincing," "timely," "original" and "highly interesting."

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Battelle, DOE, extend INL operating contract to 2024

In December, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) decided to extend its contract with Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) to manage and operate Idaho National Laboratory (INL). This week, DOE officially approved the contract modification that enables a five-year extension through Sept. 30, 2024. This followed a successful negotiation between DOE and BEA on terms and conditions of the INL contract.

The contract extension complies with an executive order issued in February 2017, directing agencies to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens. “The agreed-upon terms bring clarity to what is expected of BEA and INL in the next several years,” INL Director Mark Peters said. “The ultimate outcome is that INL is even better-positioned to serve the American taxpayer by helping resolve the nation’s big energy and security challenges.”

DOE originally awarded BEA the management contract in November 2004, creating Idaho National Laboratory and separating the cleanup work to form the Idaho Cleanup Project. That contract ran from until Sept. 30, 2014, at which point, DOE exercised a five-year option period that was set to expire Sept. 30, 2019. With the new five-year extension, BEA is contracted to operate and manage INL through 2024.

Key INL initiatives during the term of the contract extension will include:

  • Revitalizing the nuclear energy sector in the United States through research conducted at the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR), Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT), and the Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC).
  • Continuing research and development on advanced reactor designs, including partnering with the private sector to develop and demonstrate microreactor technologies for potentially powering remote communities and military bases around the world. This work will also include partnerships with industry and other stakeholders to develop and deploy the next generation of nuclear reactors, including small modular reactors (SMRs).
  • Improving upon INL’s world-leading cyber security capabilities and expertise, including efforts to make the nation’s power grids, transportation and water systems more resilient from cyber, physical and natural threats.
  • Extending the electric vehicle corridor in the west, including longer-lived batteries and improved charging infrastructure.
  • Developing integrated energy systems to stabilize the power grid and increase energy storage capabilities.
  • Continuing support for biofuels research and turning captured carbon into usable products, something that could help the nation’s coal plants reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Promoting STEM education and working with college and university partners to fill the pipeline of potential future employees with talented scientists, engineers, technicians and support personnel.
  • Productive partnerships with academia, industry, and federal, state and local governments that allow us to solve complex problems while driving economic growth and making American industry more competitive on a global scale, now and into the future.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

CEI names Lori Barber dean of general education

Lori Barber
Lori Barber has been named the dean of general education for College of Eastern Idaho (CEI). The college’s hiring committee chose Barber for the position, the first to be announced by CEI, after an extensive search and interview process that consisted of two interviews and a forum.

Barber comes to the job with more than 20 years in curriculum development. She earned her bachelor's degree in history from ISU in 2013, and while pursuing her master’s in history and anthropology at ISU, she worked as managing editor for the journal Peace & Change: A Journal of Peace Research. Upon graduating, she accepted a lectureship and taught the history and culture of food, the history of food and agriculture, and women in U.S. history.

She joined the CEI staff in June 2017, developing the Associate of Arts Degree program. In August, Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter appointed her to the State General Education Committee of Idaho. Barber will begin working on her doctorate at ISU this fall. She is also a freelance writer, yoga instructor, health and wellness coach, and blogger.

“I have a passion for education, social justice, health and wellness, and encouraging others to live life abundantly,” she said on her LinkedIn profile.

Monday, March 19, 2018

EIRMC names new chief operations officer

David Hoffenberg
Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center has added David Hoffenberg to its administrative team as chief operations officer. Hoffenberg comes to EIRMC from Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, in Las Vegas, Nev., where he served as the vice president of operations and ethics and compliance officer.

While at Sunrise, a two-hospital 690-bed medical center, Hoffenberg led capital improvement projects totaling more than $25 million and had responsibility for several service lines including oncology, bariatric surgery, telemedicine, imaging, laboratory, environmental services, food and nutrition, and communications.

Prior to his experience at Sunrise, Hoffenberg was the associate administrator at Wesley Medical Center, an 800-bed multi-campus health system  in Wichita, Kan. He has also held administrative roles at Skyridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, Colo., and at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System in Richmond, Va. Hoffenberg holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from University of Oregon and a Master of Health Administration degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. A native of Colorado, he is looking forward to getting back to the mountains and enjoying skiing at Grand Targhee and some of the other resorts in our region.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Goodwill Industries plans store in old Hastings location

It looks like there is going to be no shortage of second-hand stores on 17th Street. In addition to the new Deseret Industries in Ammon, due to hold its grand opening March 22, Goodwill Industries has filed with the city of Idaho Falls Building Department to remodel the old Hastings store in the Albertson’s shopping center.

The March 8 permit application was filed by Wind River Construction, which was already at work on the site Thursday, according to our faithful BizMojo scouts, Andy and Aubree Fox.

Goodwill has four stores in the Boise-Nampa area, one in Twin Falls and one in Pocatello, but this marks its entry into the Idaho Falls area. The non-profit organization dates back to 1902, when it was founded in Boston by the Rev. Edgar J. Helms. Since then, it has expanded into 17 countries, and in 2012 it posted $3.53 billion in revenue. In addition to second-hand goods, Goodwill provides vocational rehabilitation for disabled persons.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Broadway underground parking garage being capped this week

An artist's rendition of what the Broadway project in Idaho Falls will look like.
Sometimes, the direction of progress is down.

This morning around 6:30, construction crews began capping first underground public parking garage in Idaho Falls. When completed, the work will mark completion of the underpinnings of The Broadway, the development project currently under way at the corner of Broadway and Memorial. With a scheduled October opening, the facility will be home to 49 below-ground parking spaces.

“We’re really excited to get this first phase completed,” said Oppenheimer Development Corp. Vice President Jeremy Malone. “It won’t look like much from the surface, but to the people who use it, this parking garage will be a huge step forward in downtown parking.”

During the excavation phase more than 25 million pounds of rock were removed. They were replaced with 150 mixer-truck loads of concrete and 18 miles of steel rebar and reinforcement cable.

The Broadway will also offer 24 above-ground public spaces.

This is the Boise-based Oppenheimer Development’s first project in Idaho Falls. The project incorporates nearly 40,000 square feet of retail and commercial business space; a public plaza featuring a fountain in the summer and planned skating rink in the winter.

Approximately two-thirds of the rental space in The Broadway has already been leased. The list of tenants includes Bank of Idaho, Lucy’s Pizzeria, Smokin Fins, and Parsons Behle & Latimer.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Sweeto Burrito files for permit to remodel old Dickey's Barbecue store

I’ve been asked a number of times what’s happening where Dickey’s Barbecue Pit used to be, 2090 East 17th St., and can now answer that a building permit has been filed by Sweeto Burrito, a chain with locations in Washington, Idaho, Utah, North Dakota and Virginia. It also operates food trucks, one of which has been in Idaho Falls.

The company dates back to November 2011, when it opened its first food truck in the Bakken Oil Fields of western North Dakota. That winter was rough, but they survived and on a whim the summer that followed they took the truck to Sturgis, S.D., where they were able to serve their fare to motorcyclists there for the annual rally. It announced franchising plans in 2013, an opened its first brick-and-mortar restaurant in Fargo, N.D.

The Idaho Falls remodel is being done by Construction Solutions.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Post Register owner names regional president and publisher for eastern Idaho properties

Travis Quast
The Adams Publishing Group has named Travis Quast as regional president and publisher of the company’s eastern Idaho publications, including the Idaho Falls Post Register, the Idaho State Journal in Pocatello, the Standard Journal in Rexburg and the Teton Valley News in Driggs. Quast also will provide oversight for the Herald Journal in Logan, Utah. He assumes his new role April 2.

Prior to joining the Adams Publishing Group, Quast served as publisher of the Twin Falls Times-News, The Voice and the Elko Daily Free Press in Nevada for five years. He also has served as the vice president of sales and marketing at the Idaho Statesman and held management positions at the Bellingham (Wash.) Herald and Newspaper Agency Corp. — agents for the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News in Salt Lake City.

Quast currently serves on the Newspaper Association of Idaho's board of directors and is a member of the University of Idaho Journalism and Mass Media Advisory Committee. He has been involved in numerous community leadership roles, such as the Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization.

“Travis is a proven champion for local community news and a thoughtful strategic leader,” said Eric Johnston, APG's Western Division president. “His wide range of experience, passion for our industry and creative leadership style will surely be invaluable as we continue to serve our communities in the eastern Idaho region.”

Recognized for his efforts to protect First Amendment rights and advocacy for transparency in local and state government, Quast won a landmark case against the University of Idaho for access to teacher evaluations. He continues to lead efforts to shape local government public records and open meeting policies. Quast, who was born in Burley, is a graduate of the University of Idaho, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in public communication.

Since 2014, Minneapolis-based APG has bought more than 100 small dailies, weeklies and shoppers in at least 15 separate transactions. The Post Register was acquired in 2015. In October 2017, it bought Seattle-based Pioneer News Group Co., which owned nine Idaho newspapers, including the Teton Valley News in Driggs, the Idaho State Journal in Pocatello, and the Rexburg Standard Journal.

In contrast to other big consolidators, they often leave existing management in place, do not impose cookie-cutter content templates, and do not start by stripping down newsrooms of editors and reporters. Here is a link to an October 2017 story about the company from the Poynter website: Who are the Adams family, and why are they buying newspapers by the dozen? 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Deseret Industries' new Ammon store set to open March 22

An artist's rendering of the new Deseret Industries store in Ammon, which opens March 22.
Deseret Industries will be closing its store in downtown Idaho Falls on March 17 in preparation for the opening of its new store in Ammon, at 2885 E. 17th Street.

"DI," a non-profit chain of thrift stores operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been operating in Idaho Falls since 1974. In addition to offering merchandise, it has provided employment and vocational training to hundreds of community residents over four decades.

The new thrift store opens March 22 with a three-day grand opening celebration, including a ribbon cutting with city leaders, music, a balloon artist, and giveaways.

“We believe our customers will enjoy the greater merchandise offerings and easier donation process, but most importantly, the larger store allows us to hire more associates and provide training and educational resources to more area residents," said store manager Aaron Kelley. "We exist to change lives and with the help of the community, we’re doing just that.”

The new Ammon location is approximately 48,000-square-feet and will employ 14 full-time employees and 105 store associates as part of its career-training program. Associates develop skills and obtain certifications enabling them to advance to permanent, full-time employment in a variety of fields and careers. The location will also include an LDS Family Services facility.

There are 43 Deseret Industries stores throughout the western U.S. As a thrift store, Deseret Industries offers tens of thousands of gently used items, with thousands of new goods placed on store shelves each day.  Affordable, quality secondhand merchandise includes everything from clothing and shoes to furniture, home décor, toys and games, sports equipment and much more.

“We receive donations covering every possible household need,” said Deseret Industries marketing manager Brooke Yates. “And with thousands of items added to the inventory daily, it’s a treasure hunt each time our customers visit. We often have people lined up outside our stores as we open each morning.”

The new Ammon store includes a multi-lane, covered drive-thru donation bay. Donations are received daily, except on Sundays, and all donations are tax-deductible. Items not sold in the store may be recycled or used for humanitarian relief.

Deseret Industries also provides some newly manufactured, low-priced merchandise for its shoppers, including new suits and dress shirts for men, new coats for adults and children, new mattresses and bedding, and solid wood furniture including bed frames, dressers, tables and chairs.

The Ammon store offers extended operating hours, opening daily at 10 a.m. and closing Mondays at 6 p.m. and Tuesdays through Saturdays at 9 p.m. The store is closed Sundays. The donation bay opens daily at 8 a.m., also closing Mondays at 6 p.m. and Tuesdays through Saturdays at 9 p.m. It is closed Sundays.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Parkway Plaza Shopping Center has new owner

The Alturas Real Estate Fund has acquired the Parkway Plaza Shopping Center, in Idaho Falls at the corner of First Street and Woodruff Avenue. The property includes 75,300 square feet of retail property, including Planet Fitness, which opened in early January.

Several retail locations remain vacant within the property, but Alturas, a commercial real estate investment company based in Eagle, is working with the Thornton Oliver Keller leasing team in Idaho Falls to find occupants.

“With the proper investment it will once again be the excellent community asset it should be,” Travis Barney, president of Alturas, said in a news release.

Monday, February 26, 2018

'Space is the Place' for new INL engineer Amanda Gates

Amanda Gates, at INL Materials & Fuels Complex, where she is part of the lab's Space Nuclear Power Department.
NOTE: This is a story written for the web site and posted Feb. 21, in recognition of National Engineers Week. I am reprinting it here in hopes of wider circulation and because I think the person it profiles, Amanda Gates, is a great example of the type of person INL is trying to attract to replace the generation that is retiring. Also, I wrote the story. I'll have another one tomorrow about another up-and-comer, equally interesting and appealing, Janine Lambert.

One of Idaho National Laboratory’s new generation of engineers, Amanda Gates, says she’s as surprised as anyone to be where she is.

“I love the people I work with. I enjoy coming to work every day,” said Gates, an engineer in INL’s Space Nuclear Power Department at the Materials and Fuels Complex.

A native of Snoqualmie, Washington, Gates said that when she was in high school, she had her heart set on a career in sports marketing. Based on the aptitude she showed for science and math, however, her teachers and advisers insisted that she consider a career in engineering. Eventually, she talked to some friends’ parents who were engineers.

“I decided maybe it was the way to go,” she said.

Gates pursued a degree in mechanical engineering from University of San Diego (a Catholic university not to be confused with the University of California, San Diego). During winter break in 2014, she was working as a housekeeper in Colorado, researching internships and snowboarding whenever she could, when she first heard of INL from a co-worker whose father worked at the lab.

Based on her résumé and application, INL’s University Partnerships office arranged a phone interview for her with Shad Davis, a mechanical engineer in the Radioisotope Power Systems Department. “Her résumé was spot on. She had a lot of hands-on experience with machining and tooling.”

When she landed the summer 2015 internship, Gates said she didn’t know much about the program or nuclear materials. But the manual aspects of the job appealed to her. “I like working with my hands and designing things, and I have an artistic side, too,” she said.

“For the short amount of time she was here, she was very proactive and persistent,” Davis said. “She bought a piece of equipment and wrote a test plan for it. She fit right in with our group, which can be hard to do with the dynamics and personalities of a dozen engineers.”

Gates worked on design teams that employed computer numerical control plasma tube cutting, using lathes, mills, drill presses, and three-dimensional computer-aided modeling, designing a robotics system and performing finite element analysis. Outside the lab, Davis was impressed with the passion she had for restoration work on her 1982 Ford Bronco.

“This knowledge of machining equipment and hands on was invaluable in coming up with a new drilling operation into some exotic materials that are used in our heat sources,” he said. “She was given the scope and goal of this project and she ran with it, completing it in the three months that she was here.  Her motivation was amazing and her attention to detail and desire to succeed made my mentoring job easy.”

Gates said the camaraderie of the group was an inspiration, and she liked eastern Idaho’s opportunities for outdoor recreation, too. After getting her degree in December 2015, “I bugged them enough to hire me full-time,” she said.

“When a full-time position was proposed, it was easy for me to submit her as a candidate because of the high impression she left on me, her co-workers, and manager,” Davis said. “Her transition to our staff as full-time engineer was seamless. I truly enjoy having her on our team as a peer.  She is a very capable and intelligent engineer. She is well-organized and her personality is a perfect fit. She is very active outside of work, and her excitement for life is contagious."

Being focused on the 2020 Mars mission, Gates says it’s easy for her to talk to people about what she does. “You can talk to anyone about that,” she said. “People ask me if I am going to Mars. Sometimes they’re serious, sometimes not.”

Her experience with the MMRTG (Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator) hit home when she watched “The Martian,” particularly the scene when Matt Damon’s character digs up the generator to keep himself warm while riding across the frigid Martian landscape.

“It looked just like what we’re working on,” she said. “Hollywood got something right for once.”
Gates said she tells her friends and former classmates all the time about the opportunities for work and recreation in eastern Idaho. She’s very eager to learn everything she can, and anticipates things will only get busier as the 2020 launch date for the rover approaches.

“Amanda’s excitement is contagious,” Davis said. “It really kind of rubs off on all of us. I have no doubt that as she gains experience, she will soon be in charge of more projects and tasks.”

The University Partnerships Organization at INL leads recruiting efforts at universities and students interested in participating in an internship or in the lab’s postdoctoral or graduate fellowship programs can apply or find more information at