Wednesday, September 11, 2019

INL to collaborate with 3 commercial utilities on hydrogen production from nuclear plants

The Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station near Toledo, Ohio, will be the first site to produce commercial quantities of hydrogen using nuclear energy. (Photo by Bill Rayburn, Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station)
Three commercial electric utilities and Idaho National Laboratory have been chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy for projects intended to improve the long-term economic competitiveness of the nuclear power industry.

The utility participants are FirstEnergy Solutions of Akron, Ohio; Xcel Energy, a Minneapolis-based energy company that owns and operates two nuclear plants in Minnesota; and Arizona Public Service (APS), a Phoenix-based utility that operates Palo Verde Generating Station.

The three projects are involved in DOE’s effort to support development and demonstration of commercial applications that pair nuclear energy with a hybrid, non-electric application to produce hydrogen. DOE announcement for these projects and others can be found on this link: https://www.energy.gov/ne/articles/us-department-energy-awards-152-million-advanced-nuclear-technology-0.

“These first-of-a-kind projects represent significant advances for improving the long-term economic competitiveness of the light water reactor industry,” said Bruce Hallbert, director of DOE’s Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program, based at INL. “They will enable the production of commodities such as hydrogen in addition to electricity from commercial nuclear power plants. These projects also accelerate the transition to a national hydrogen economy by contributing to the use of hydrogen as a storage medium for production of electricity, as a zero-emitting transportation fuel, or as a replacement for industrial processes that currently use carbon-emitting sources in hydrogen production.”

The two-year project led by FirstEnergy Solutions will initially demonstrate and deploy a 1- to 3-MWe low-temperature electrolysis unit to produce commercial quantities of hydrogen. The first site, planned for 2020, is FirstEnergy Solution’s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station near Toledo, Ohio. The project will demonstrate how hydrogen from commercial nuclear operations can be used to produce “green” products and commodities in significant quantities for domestic use and for export to international markets where green and low-carbon attributes are incentivized. Hydrogen from Davis-Besse may initially be used to supply public transportation fleets in Ohio, in new direct iron reduction plants being constructed to produce steel products, or for other commercial products now under investigation.

“Thanks to the support provided to our Ohio nuclear plants by the state of Ohio, we are able to work with DOE to explore new methods of keeping nuclear power plants competitive in any economic environment," said Raymond Lieb, senior vice president of Fleet Engineering for FirstEnergy Solutions. "This is a great opportunity to show that hydrogen can be effectively generated in a carbon-free and safe manner.”

The second project, planned for 2021, will occur at an Xcel Energy nuclear site and employ hydrogen production technologies that might be used to reduce the environmental impact of industrial processes or in the transportation sector. Redirecting nuclear energy from electricity to hydrogen production could help balance the electrical grid with the increasing amount of wind and solar energy on the system. The company has also been testing flexible operations at its nuclear plants, but hydrogen could create an entirely new value stream. Xcel Energy plans to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent in the Upper Midwest by 2030 (from 2005 levels) and is pursuing a vision to provide electricity from 100 percent carbon-free sources by 2050.

”We’ve challenged our nuclear employees to find innovative ways to operate more efficiently, use technology, pursue new ideas and reduce costs to make our plants more valuable for our customers,” said Tim O’Connor, chief nuclear officer, Xcel Energy. “Projects like this hydrogen demonstration will ensure our nuclear plants continue to help Xcel Energy provide reliable, affordable carbon-free electricity for the Upper Midwest.”

The third project, planned for 2020-2022, will occur at APS’ Palo Verde Generating Station near Phoenix, Arizona. Hydrogen from the plant may be used as energy storage for use in reverse-operable electrolysis or peaking gas turbines during times of the day when photovoltaic solar energy sources are unavailable and energy reserves in the Southwest are low -- also to support a growing hydrogen transportation fuel market. Experience from this pilot project will offer valuable insights into methods for flexible transitions between electricity and hydrogen generation missions in solar-dominated electricity markets and demonstrate how hydrogen may be used as energy storage to provide electricity during operating periods when solar is not available.

“This project allows us to explore a new form of energy storage while continuing to provide customers what they want – clean, affordable and reliable electricity,” said Bob Bement, APS's executive vice president and chief nuclear officer.

Hallbert said, “These demonstration projects will confirm how commercial nuclear utilities can produce — without carbon emissions — essential products, like hydrogen, at a scale needed by industry. Nuclear energy can help meet the significant demand for hydrogen and other synthesized products while helping industrial users reduce their own carbon footprints.”

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Staybridge Suites hotel planned for Idaho Falls

A typical Staybridge Suites layout
It looks like Idaho Falls will be getting another hotel, as an erosion control permit has been filed for a Staybridge Suites hotel on Pioneer Road near Deseret Book.

The city of Idaho Falls Building Department approved the permit on Aug. 21. The applicant is The Koehler Organization of Aberdeen, S.D., and the owner is listed as JPK TR Idaho Falls, LLC, also out of Aberdeen.

Staybridge Suites is an all-suite, residential-style brand of hotels within the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), the company that also owns Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Candlewood Suites. The brand targets extended-stay and corporate travelers.

The chain was founded in 1997, and the first hotel opened the following year in Alpharetta, Ga. According to the company's website, it has more than 220 hotels in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Chamber announces Distinguished Under 40 honorees

The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce (GIFCC) has announced its 2019 Distinguished Under 40 honorees. The annual awards program honors 10 eastern Idaho young professionals who have excelled in their careers, community, and education. Co-workers, managers, and business associates nominate the young professionals.

A panel of GIFCC board members selected the honorees from 40 nominations received this year. The 2019 honorees are:
  • Clint Reading, College of Eastern Idaho
  • Jacob Workman, Idaho Falls Office of Idaho Legal Aid Services
  • Leela Abrahamson, Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel
  • Lezhai Gulbransen, Bonneville Youth Development Council
  • Lupita Fuentes, Northwest Cosmetic Labs
  • Matt Larsen, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center
  • Micah Austin, City of Ammon
  • Miranda Marquit, Miranda Marquit Freelancing
  • Stuart Draper, Stukent
  • Tim Sopalski, Bank of Commerce
The recipients will be honored at a luncheon held at the Downtown Event Center on Sept. 24 at noon. To attend the luncheon, please reserve your spot at https://idahofallschamber.com/event/distinguished-under-40/. Tickets are $20 for Chamber members and $25 for non-Chamber members.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

First Street reopens, new and improved; North Boulevard work starts Monday

Good news, eastsiders, the city of Idaho Falls has reopened First Street between Fanning Avenue and St. Clair Road.

The newly paved stretch reopened Wednesday at 5 p.m., in time for the evening commute. The summer project, which started July 8, involved replacing the water line from Lomax Street to the Idaho Canal, also storm drain improvements and road reconstruction. Idaho Falls Power replaced aging street lights and Davey Tree Service trimmed trees away from power lines.

The roadway was completely closed to provide a safe work environment for construction crews and to expedite the project. It was completed on schedule, according a press release from the city.

Beginning Monday, Union Pacific Railroad crews will be reconstructing two railroad crossings on North Boulevard, just north of Science Center Drive. Motorists should plan alternate routes.

This is likely to affect people who work in the INL Research Center and employees of Northwest Cosmetics Laboratory. But the tie-rod ends and shocks in their cars and trucks will be a lot better off.

The anticipated completion time is one week, barring unforeseen conditions. Motorists should avoid the area and plan alternate routes. Traffic will be detoured to 29th North (Stanley Street). The Idaho Falls Street Division will be providing traffic control.

Additional information on City of Idaho Falls construction projects can be found on the homepage of the city’s website or by clicking HERE

Monday, September 2, 2019

Ronald McDonald Family Room at EIRMC slated to open Friday

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho will be holding a ribbon-cutting at noon Thursday for the brand new Ronald McDonald Family Room at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. The remodeling of what was office space has been going on since April. When it officially opens on Friday, it will provide a “home away from home” for families with ill or injured children.

Following the Ribbon Cutting, RMHC of Idaho will be hosting a Community Open House from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Community members are invited to come tour the space, enjoy some refreshments, and learn how about how the Family Room will bring comfort to families.

In preparation for the program’s first day, RMHC of Idaho is also asking the community to help “stock the Family Room.” To ensure the space has everything needed to support families, they’ve put together an online wish list. The community can help by purchasing items off this wish list and either having them shipped straight to the Family Room or dropping them off during the open house.

When children are sick, the thing they need most is family. The Ronald McDonald Family Room will provide a home-like environment for parents and families of children receiving treatment at EIRMC. It will allow families a quiet place to get something to eat, take a shower, do laundry, watch tv, take a nap, or even stay the night, steps away from their hospitalized child. The Family Room will be staffed by RMHC of Idaho employees and through the generous efforts of community volunteers.

For more information about the Family Room visit rmhcidaho.org/familyroom.


Friday, August 23, 2019

Idaho Innovation Center announces classes for small business

The Idaho Innovation Center is holding several classes and workshops aimed at helping small businesses. A non-profit business incubator, IIC regularly partners with the Small Business Development Center and the Regional Development Alliance to assist business owners with business needs. Consultation and counseling are provided for free.

If you are interested in these services, call (208) 523-1026 to set up an appointment.

Here is a list of upcoming events.

Aug. 30, 10:30-noon: New tax law and financial strategies for small business. Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cultivating-your-business-tax-financial-strategies-for-smallbusinesstickets-69217119267

Sept. 9, 6-9 p.m.: QuickBooks class. Meets 9/9, 9/11, 9/16, 9/18, 9/23. Fee:  $199

Sept. 18, noon-2 p.m.: Elevating Your Business class. Meets every Wednesday for 7 weeks. A fun class that will help you learn to market your business more effectively. Fee: $149

Sept. 27, 10:30-noon: Human Resources for Small Business. Free workshop. Registration through Eventbrite mid-September.

Oct. 25, 10:30-noon: Advertising and Marketing. FreeE workshop. Registration through Eventbrite mid-October.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Center for Advanced Energy Studies to receive NuScale control room simulator

Young guests SCRAM a NuScale Power Module on a control room simulator during a Friends & Family Day in Oregon. The Center for Advanced Energy Studies in Idaho Falls is slated to get a NuScale simulator in the next year, courtesy of a grant announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday it has awarded three grants to support the installation of NuScale reactor plant simulators at Oregon State University, Texas A&M University-College Station, and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) in Idaho Falls.

NuScale is the Corvallis, Oregon-based company that is collaborating with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) on the Carbon Free Power Project. The project involves installation of 12 small modular reactors (SMRs) at Idaho National Laboratory's desert site by the mid-2020s. The facility will be capable of generating 720 megawatts of electricity. NuScale’s technology is the world’s first and only SMR to undergo design certification review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is scheduled to complete its design review by September 2020.

The DOE grants are for $843,986 total, of which $285,763 is to build the Idaho Falls simulator at CAES, on MK Simpson Boulevard. CAES is a consortium made up of Idaho National Laboratory, University of Idaho, Idaho State University, Boise State University and University of Wyoming.

"Housing the simulator at CAES in will facilitate collaboration with four university research institutions and experts in these fields at INL," said Richard Christensen, the lead collaborator from UI. "This simulator acquisition for these efforts is consistent with the UI's land grant mission to strengthen teaching, scholarly, and creative capacities statewide through new research pathways."

NuScale’s reactor simulator is a virtual nuclear power plant control room that includes an interface that accepts input from operators and displays parameters simulating plant response. The simulator facilitates research into human factors engineering, human-system interface design, advanced diagnostics, cyber security and plant control room automation. When completed, the simulator facilities will be used for research, education, K-12 outreach and public advocacy regarding nuclear power and small modular reactor (SMR) technology.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

National Reactor Innovation Center or "NRTS 2.0"? INL gets back to its nuclear roots

U.S. Sens. Jim Risch, left, and Mike Crapo, right, were on hand for the press conference Wednesday announcing the National Reactor Innovation Center coming to Idaho National Laboratory. Between them are DOE-Idaho Director Robert Boston (left) and INL Director Mark Peters. (Photo courtesy eastidahonews.com).
Before the more 21st century-sounding National Reactor Innovation Center was decided on, Idaho National Laboratory Director Mark Peters said he was entertaining “NRTS 2.0” as a name.

NRTS stands for National Reactor Testing Station, which came to eastern Idaho in 1949 with the Atomic Energy Commission and later became INL. In a way, Wednesday’s announcement that INL would be the official home of NRIC marked a return to the lab’s roots, which have never completely gone away.

Over the past 70 years, NRTS/INL was home to 52 reactors, only four of which remain in operation. What Wednesday’s announcement means is that INL is going to be the place for nuclear collaboration between the public and private sectors. That is already happening with the Carbon Free Power Project, which involves INL, NuScale, an Oregon-based subsidiary of Fluor, Inc., and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), a consortium of municipally owned electrical utilities, one of which is Idaho Falls Power. If all goes as planned, NRIC will be the site for 12 of NuScale’s prefabricated small modular reactors (SMRs). Licensing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is well under way, and a startup is anticipated for the mid-2020s.


The NuScale project is anticipated to create around 1,000 construction jobs to eastern Idaho, with a few hundred after the project has gone online. A lot of companies are watching the NuScale/UAMPS project very closely. Aside from the actual reactors, Idaho stands to benefit further from becoming a supply chain hub, Peters said at a press conference Wednesday, also attended by Idaho U.S. Sens, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.

NRIC has also been designated as the site for the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR), a fast-neutron source the DOE has deemed necessary for the next generation of nuclear reactors. Unlike light water reactors and pressurized water reactors, advanced reactors will be cooled by materials such as molten salt and thorium. They offer the possibility of burning spent nuclear fuel from LWRs and PWRs, and thus a solution to the waste disposal problem that continues to dog nuclear development in the United States. But before anything can happen, a lot of testing has to be done and a domestic source of fast neutrons is necessary. This is what Experimental Breeder Reactor-II did at Argonne National Laboratory-West between 1964 and 1994, before it was shut down.

“It’s hard to put an exact number on the amount of reactors that will be demonstrated here,” Peters said. “We’re talking to a lot of companies who have approached the laboratory and the department. I think there are a lot of interested players out there in the nuclear energy space.”

Also on hand for the announcement Wednesday was William D. Magwood IV, director-general of the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), an intergovernmental agency under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Magwood was DOE’s Director of Nuclear Energy 20 years ago when he announced at an Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Meeting that INL (then INEEL) had been designated the department’s lead nuclear laboratory.

As the Post Register’s business reporter at the time, I was covering that meeting and cynically thought to myself, “There’s a prize of dubious value.” Nuclear in the United States was at a low ebb in the late 1990s, so it wasn't unreasonable to think this.

A lot has happened in 20 years, but 20 to 30 years is how long it takes anything to happen in the nuclear industry, Peters said. Nuclear energy research in the U.S. might have been hanging on by a thread in 1999, but the threat of climate change and global warming was beginning to register in more and more minds, making carbon-free energy alternatives like nuclear a lot more appealing. In fact, it was a panel of scientific advisers who told President Bill Clinton to keep the nuclear option open.

In 2000, INEEL, Bechtel and Oregon State University researchers began a three-year project called the Multi-Application Small Light Water Reactor (MASLWR), which would become the basis for NuScale.

I have given up on writing stories quoting anyone predicting what they think is going to happen, near- or long-term. But the announcement that INL is returning to its nuclear roots is a big story with big implications for the region.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Idaho Falls Fiber adding new service areas

Idaho Falls Fiber announced Monday that residents on Sycamore Circle, Hickory Lane, Hickory Court, Hickory Circle, Tuscany Drive, Burgundy Drive and Napa Drive can now connect to the Idaho Falls Fiber Network. Customers may sign-up for service or check availability at www.idahofallsfiber.com or call IFF Customer Service at 208-612-8725.

The Residential Fiber Pilot Program officially launched in March with service available to customers between the south side of 17th Street and 21st Street and between Rollandet and South Boulevard, along with the Carriagegate and Waterford subdivisions.

Idaho Falls Fiber has partnered with four local Internet providers, Direct Communications, Qwk.net, Silver Star, and SUMO Fiber, to offer residents a variety of services and pricing. Once residents have signed up for service and selected their provider, Idaho Falls Fiber will schedule a site survey with the customer for the installation of the actual fiber to the residence. Once the fiber is installed, the local Internet provider will begin Internet service.

Construction continues in the third phase of the pilot program as contractors complete electrical and communication infrastructure upgrades. These upgrades, will not only provide access to high-speed Internet with Idaho Falls Fiber, but help Idaho Falls Power better maintain electric service reliability to the homes. Although currently in the pilot phase, customers who sign up will continue to have service even if the network does not expand citywide. There is currently no connection charge for the installation of the fiber line to a home under the pilot program so residents can take advantage of the opportunity the pilot offers to get a fiber connection into the home at no cost.

Pilot program residents should also note that Spliggity, a contractor for Idaho Falls Fiber, will be accessing utility easements to complete work in conjunction with the fiber network upgrade.

Idaho Falls Power and Idaho Falls Fiber expresses their deepest appreciation to customers within the pilot program for their patience and cooperation, especially during this construction phase.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Arbor holding open house through Friday

A promotional shot for The Arbor, a new wedding and reception center at 665 John Adams Parkway.
The Arbor, the event room and ballroom at the AmeriHealth Event Center, 665 John Adams Parkway, is holding an open house this week through Friday. Hours are noon to 7 p.m. every day.

Situated in what used to be First Baptist Church, construction started in July. The remodeling of the late-'50s era structure includes restoration of the hard wood floors to their original state, chandeliers and additional decorative lighting, and curtains and drapes to modify the light from the large stained glass windows.

The center will feature customizable backdrops and venue decoration options, completing bride and groom rooms and landscaping the property. Discounts are available to anyone who wishes to rent prior to the remodeling's completion. Call (208) 520-0247 or email Events@TheArborEventCenter.com for more information.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

DOE files for Versatile Test Reactor environmental impact statement

An artistic rendering of what the Versatile Test Reactor could look like.
The U.S. Department of Energy on Monday announced it has filed a notice of intent to develop an Environmental Impact Statement in its effort to build a Versatile Test Reactor by the mid-2020s. VTR's purpose is to test future fuels and materials for use in advanced power reactors.

Idaho National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in eastern Tennessee have been identified as possible locations for VTR. In addition, INL and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina are two locations being considered for the fabrication of the fuel needed to run the reactor.

“This testing capability is essential for the United States to modernize its nuclear energy infrastructure and for developing transformational nuclear energy technologies that reduce waste generation and enhance nuclear security,” U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in a press release.  “Lack of a domestic reactor with versatile fast-neutron-spectrum testing capability is a significant national strategic risk affecting the ability of DOE to fulfill its mission to advance the energy, environmental, and nuclear security of the United States and promote scientific and technological innovation.”

Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), an EIS is a necessary step for any major project like VTR. "Beginning the NEPA process at this time will ensure that all environmental factors are considered before the department makes a final decision to move forward with the project,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Rita Baranwal.

“DOE needs to develop this capability on an accelerated schedule to avoid further delay in the United States’ ability to develop and deploy advanced nuclear energy technologies,” she said. “If this capability is not available to U.S. innovators as soon as possible, the ongoing shift of nuclear technology dominance to other international states such as China and the Russian Federation will accelerate, to the detriment of the U.S. nuclear industrial sector."

During the first steps of this NEPA process, DOE invites the public to comment now through September 4 on what the department should include in the scope of the EIS draft version. Following that, the draft EIS analysis will be published and the public invited to comment on it for 45 days. DOE will evaluate comments before the EIS is made final. When final, the EIS will be published and made available to the public for 30 days before the department can issue a record of decision.

In addition to gathering written comments, DOE will host two interactive webcast scoping meetings to provide information about the VTR and the NEPA processes and gather oral and written comments. The webcast scoping meetings will be held Aug. 27 at 4 p.m. MDT and Aug. 28 at 6 p.m. MDT. To join the webcast scoping meetings by phone, participants can call toll-free in the United States at 877-869-3847.

Broulim's acquires Teton Clinical Pharmacy

Broulim’s Fresh Foods has acquired Teton Clinical Pharmacy and will expand services across eastern Idaho.

The acquisition became official Monday, according to a news release. The Teton Pharmacy on Jafer Court will close but Broulim’s will operate Teton locations on 17th Street in Ammon and West Broadway in Idaho Falls.

“The merging of these two local pharmacy businesses will increase access to healthcare services across southeast Idaho,” Broulim’s Pharmacy Supervisor Marcus Hurs said in the news release. “Teton Pharmacy’s bubble packing, compounding, and delivery services will be added to the Broulim’s locations. Broulim’s point-of-care services will be added to the newly acquired Teton pharmacy locations.”

Customers with Teton or Broulim’s will now be able to pick up prescriptions at any of the combined ten pharmacy locations. Patients can be screened for conditions and prescribed medications by the pharmacist to treat strep throat, urinary tract infections, flu, cold sores, and travel sickness prevention, with more services being planned for the future.

The 17th street location will be remodeled to make room for a new compounding room and bubble packing operation, with Joe Brown as the pharmacy manager. The Broadway location will undergo a few minor changes, with Michelle Misko as manager.

Pharmacy records for the Teton Pharmacy on Jafer Court will be transferred to the Broulim’s Fresh Foods at 2730 E. Sunnyside in Ammon.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Bank of Idaho continues expansion in Treasure Valley

Alan Mullins
Idaho Falls-based Bank of Idaho continues its expansion in the Treasure Valley with the announcement of a loan production office (LPO), now open in downtown Nampa’s Historic Library building at 101 11th  Avenue, Suite 215, Idaho Falls-based Bank of Idaho continues its expansion in the Treasure Valley with the announcement of a Loan Production Office (LPO), in downtown Nampa’s Historic Library building. The new office will offer a complete slate of commercial lending options.

“Bank of Idaho’s values line up directly with mine: developing meaningful relationships with small businesses, and commitment to community.” said Alan Mullins, VP area manager of loan operations. “When I heard that, I was immediately interested in joining their expansion efforts.”

"It’s great to work again for an independent bank that cares about fostering those types of small business relationships,” said Mullins, who started his career as a bank teller in Weiser. “Some of my best friends started out as clients back in the day."

Along with Mullins, the Bank of Idaho Nampa team is made up of Sean Edwards, commercial loan officer and Kelsey Pease, commercial loan assistant. The new office will offer a complete slate of commercial lending options.

Nampa’s Historic Library building was originally built for a bank in 1919. The Bank of Idaho is open now in the former library’s offices on the second story, while the acquisitions team is working to finalize arrangements for a permanent full-service branch location in Nampa.


Monday, July 29, 2019

Love at First Bite plans expansion to 5,000 square feet

Love at First Bite, one of the first stores at Snake River Landing, will be turning 10 this year and expanding in size.
Love at First Bite Mercantile announced Monday that it is expanding its gifts and oils shop at 901 Pier View Drive, in Snake River Landing. The expansion is under way and will increase the size of the store from around 3,000 square feet to nearly 5,000 square feet. This is the second expansion by the shop, which opened in 2009 with 1,500 square feet.

Located across from The Pier and the river, Love at First Bite is a unique, locally-owned shop that features truffles and old-fashioned candies and sodas, inspired cupcakes, eclectic gifts and an expansive line of specialty oils and vinegars known as the Twig and Vine Olive Oil Company.

"We have enjoyed being part of Snake River Landing since we opened nearly ten years ago," said owner Juli Richards. “With the growth in the area and in Idaho Falls, we are so happy to be able to grow along with it and to offer even more items in the shop.”

Love at First Bite will remain open during the expansion, which should be finished early this fall.

In addition to the Love at First Bite expansion, The Falls Apartments in Snake River Landing is also in expansion mode. Kartchner Inc. is currently developing 96 additional apartments, adding to the 228-unit complex that opened in 2017.

“It’s exciting to see businesses grow in Snake River Landing, particularly one that is locally owned and operated,” said Eric Isom, Snake River Landing's chief development officer. “With a positive environment, beautifully maintained grounds, steady traffic and ample parking, we look forward to seeing more businesses thrive in Snake River Landing.”

Monday, July 22, 2019

City of Idaho Falls to hold meeting, open house on EPA grant

The city of Idaho Falls Community Development Services Department will be hosting a community meeting and open house to discuss the Brownfield Assessment Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The meeting will be held Tuesday from 3 to 5 p.m. at 574 East 4th Street (the former Boy Scout Office).

Last year, the city, the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency, and Bonneville Metropolitan Planning Organization received a three-year grant from EPA for $600,000. Since receiving the grant, project staff have done background work such as creating a brownfield inventory.

While the grant monies may be used anywhere within the city, the focus of the grant work is primarily within the city core, covering areas including Northgate Mile, First Street, downtown and the south downtown areas. As the project now moves towards more public activities such as reuse planning and environmental assessments, city staff and the project’s lead consultant from Stantec hope to use the meeting to accomplish a variety of purposes.

“We want to make sure that those who come to the meeting will be able to understand the purpose of the grant and learn how property owners can directly benefit from the funds,” said Brad Cramer, director of the Community Development and Services Department.  “We also want to seek input on properties and areas where the community members feel the grant should be used for revitalization.”

Staff will also be scheduling appointments with interested property owners to provide technical assistance on environmental, cleanup, and other redevelopment issues on their properties. For more information on this event or to schedule an appointment, please contact Kerry Beutler, the city's assistant planning director at 208-612-8278.

Bank of Idaho Holding Co. completes private placement of stock

Jeff Newgard
Bank of Idaho Holding Co., the parent company of Bank of Idaho, announced Friday that it has completed a $15 million private placement of its capital stock. The investor in the private placement consisted of certain affiliates of Castle Creek Capital LLC, a well-established, sophisticated institutional investor that specializes in the community banking sector.

Proceeds from the private placement will be used to facilitate strategic initiatives and support the company's organic growth and market expansion activities throughout the state of Idaho. While Castle Creek will join the company’s shareholder base, the existing management team and board of directors will continue to lead the
bank’s efforts to provide exceptional products and services to the customers and communities that the bank serves.

"This is a momentous day for Bank of Idaho. We are excited to see the opportunities these resources will bring us as we strive to further differentiate ourselves as the preferred financial institution for small business banking throughout the state,” said Jeff Newgard, the bank's president and CEO. “As a result of this capital raise, we have significantly strengthened our balance sheet to support the next stage of our company's strategic initiatives. This represents a solid vote of confidence for our strategic
plan, as we continue on a path to providing a truly unique and personal banking experience for our small business clients across the state.”

Hovde Group LLC served as the sole placement agent for the transaction. Ernest J. Panasci, Partner at Stinson, LLP, served as legal counsel to Bank of Idaho Holding Co. for the transaction.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Credit Union buys primary naming rights to Idaho Falls event center

An artist's rendering of what the event center might look like.
The Idaho Falls Auditorium District announced on Tuesday a new long-term partnership with Mountain America Credit Union that includes naming rights to the long-anticipated facility.

"Partnerships of private enterprise and government are absolutely necessary in order to make projects the size of this one a reality,” said IFAD Board Chairwoman Terri Gadzik in a press release. “They have stepped up to the plate to help the event center team change the face of the economy in eastern Idaho forever."

Mountain America has purchased the primary naming rights to the Mountain America Center for $4.5 million. The credit union has more than 840,000 members throughout five states, including 15 branches in Idaho, and has reported $9 billion in assets. Previously, Mountain America purchased naming rights to the Mountain America Performing Arts Centre in Sandy, Utah, where its headquarters are located.

The total cost of the Idaho Falls project has been estimated at $62 million. No date for groundbreaking has been announced, but infrastructure is being built on Event Center Drive at Snake River Landing, which has donated the land. IFAD has posted a $10 million private fund-raising goal, of which Mountain America's contribution represents 45 percent.

The district reported $11.7 million in assets at the end of May, including more than $10 million in its accounts. It has raised $12 million from a 19 percent hotel bed tax, which voters approved of in a 2011 vote. Certificates of participation, a lease-financing tool, will allow the district to sell shares of the event center’s lease revenues.

The center has been envisioned as the home for a new Idaho Falls minor league hockey team and also a venue for concerts, sporting events, conferences, and other community events. The design of the 48,000-square-foot venue features an arena with seating for up to 5,500 people and a state-of-the-art convention center with flexible configurations.

As naming rights partner, Mountain America’s branding will be visible throughout the facility, with Mountain America Center prominent on the interior and exterior of the building, including a digital marquee sign along the freeway. Additional naming rights opportunities are available inside the facility.

“IFAD is committed to delivering an event center to the Idaho Falls community,” said Rob Spear, IFAD's executive director. “Today Mountain America provided us with the financial momentum needed to move this project forward.”



Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Great Race fund-raiser in need of volunteers

CEI Foundation is still in need of volunteers for its premier annual fund-raiser, The Great Race for Education, which takes place this Friday at Snake River Landing.

Since it began more than 10 years ago, the Great Race has raised more than $300,000 for scholarships at College of Eastern Idaho, formerly Eastern Idaho Technical College. Each year has a different theme. This years is the “Flamingo” Edition.

The foundation is looking for people who are not team owners or on a team. The time commitment is from approximately 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.

"Students this is a great way for you to fulfill your community service and see all the wonderful people who help provide scholarship opportunities," a CEI press release said. "If you commit to assist we just ask that you do show up and check your e-mail for volunteer information."

More than 100 volunteers are required to assist at race stations, set up field challenge challenge stations, judge challenges at the main event area and clean up. CEI employees who are interested need to ask their immediate supervisor for permission to assist.

To volunteer, follow this link to the Great Race webpage: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b054ca5a72faafa7-july

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Idaho Falls assistant city attorney recognized as 'Rising Star'

Michael Kirkham
Idaho Falls Assistant City Attorney Michael Kirkham was recently recognized by the Idaho Municipal Attorneys Association with the 2019 Rising Star Award at its annual conference in Boise.

The Rising Star Award is one of four Service and Achievement Awards that are given out to attorneys around the state for their exemplary performance. The award recognizes lawyers who are newer to the practice of municipal law. Kirkham has worked for the city of Idaho Falls for five years.

“(We are) fortunate to have Mike Kirkham as a part of our legal team,” said Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper. “He never fails to make a positive contribution in part because he has a bright mind and excellent legal instincts. And because of this, he is trusted by his colleagues both in the city and across the state.”

To earn the award, an attorney must provide outstanding service, show a willingness to learn, develop expertise in municipal law, and demonstrate an excellent attitude and reputation. According to the nomination, Kirkham was recognized for being hard working, well organized, personable, and for devoting outstanding time and effort to the IMA and community legal efforts.

“Mike has been a tremendous asset to our office,” said City Attorney Randy Fife. “We appreciate his professionalism, enthusiasm and dedication to the community and to the legal profession.”

Among some of his legal accomplishments include briefing and arguing successfully at the Idaho Supreme Court that the Statute of Limitations on contracts does apply to state government subdivisions, such as municipalities. Kirkham is also a recognized expert in the Idaho Public Records Act, has presented at IMA and freely given help to other municipal attorneys.

In his spare time, he has worked as an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho and taught classes on various topics around the state. He is a grader for the Idaho State Bar test and currently serves on the IMA Board.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

INL transfers technology to industry throughout region and beyond

INL’s development of a High-Temperature Irradiation-Resistant Thermocouple, which can withstand temperatures of over 1,250 degrees Celsius, has relied on collaboration with Idaho Laboratories Corp., a company with operations in Idaho Falls.
NOTE: This story appears on the INL.gov website. Having covered INL tech transfer off and on since the 1990s, when I was business reporter for the Post Register, it was interesting to see new developments. 

Technology transfer at Idaho National Laboratory has come a long way since 1980, the year President Jimmy Carter signed the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act, directing national labs to shepherd government-developed innovations into the private sector.

“Our core business has always been trying to get technology out of the lab and into the hands of people who use it,” said Jason Stolworthy, INL’s Technology Deployment director. “Technology advancements often result in profound societal benefit when commercialized, and we work with entrepreneurs, start-ups and innovative companies to turn INL’s innovations to products and services that improve our lives.”

From its inception, technology transfer required a paradigm shift in thinking at the national labs, said Ken Koller, who was a co-director of a former site contractor’s Technology Transfer Group along with Dr. Jane Welch, and is now CEO of Advanced Ceramic Fibers, an INL spinoff. By the mid-1990s, the U.S. Department of Energy incentivized technology transfer in the lab’s management and operations contracts. By Fiscal Year 1997, Idaho’s national lab accounted for seven of the 19 spinouts from national laboratories.

By mid-2019, INL had more than 300 active licenses across the United States. The greatest challenge is making a match between a lab-developed technology and someone who can realize a use for the technology. “It’s like matching a unique piece of art with a buyer,” Stolworthy said. “We have to find someone who understands its full value and potential. Plus, for a technology, they also need to be capable of commercializing it.”

In some cases, companies with INL-licensed technologies have headquarters in places like Virginia, Rhode Island or Texas, but have kept research and development teams in eastern Idaho, near the lab that hatched their innovations. Regionally, six companies in various stages of maturity offer examples of how the lab deploys technology to increase regional and national competitiveness.

To read the full story, follow this link: https://inl.gov/article/idaho-lab-transfers-technology-to-industry-throughout-region-and-beyond/

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Cellar to host Murder Mystery Dinner July 24


The Cellar, at 17th Street and Ammon Road, is planning its first Murder Mystery Dinner for July 24. Host Bryan Hewett says space is limited, that they will be capping it 40 people. In other words, reservations are required. Time is 6 p.m. and the cost is $35.

“This is an interactive dinner, so be prepared to interact and have fun,” he said. The director will be assigning roles, each person to please email their reservation to murdermystery.cellar@gmail.com.

“If you call in to make the reservation or go online, please make sure you let us know it's for the murder mystery dinner,” Hewitt said. You will then be asked for your email and put on the Mystery Dinner list, which offers exclusive insights, hints and tips.

“Don't worry, these aren't tough roles where you have to rehearse or anything,” he said. “Just show up ready to have fun.”

Participants are welcome to dress for the occasion. As the date gets closer all details will be clearly communicated.

Dinner will be served buffet style, in order for players to mingle and gather clues. There will be prizes, fun giveaways throughout the night and a whodunnit prize at the end.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

INL awarded Technology Commercialization funding for 13 projects

Source: U.S. Department of Energy
Idaho National Laboratory has received funding awards for 13 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. Overall funding awarded by DOE this cycle totals over $24 million across 12 national labs. INL was the most awarded laboratory with 13 winning proposals, receiving $2.18 million in TCF funds and equivalent matching funds from partners for a total of $4.36 million in funding.

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

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

Switchable Solvent Water Extraction for Material Processing and Isolation, $150,000
Principal Investigator: Aaron Wilson, Energy & Environment Science & Technology
Partner: Trevi Systems

Computer Programs for Analysis of Thermally Reactive Tracer Tests in Geothermal Reservoirs, $150,000
Principal Investigator: Mitchell Plummer, Energy & Environment Science & Technology
Partners: Geothermal Science, Inc. and Ormat, Inc.

Full-set Transformer Protection Barrier Manufacturing and Technology Commercialization Demonstration, $125,000
Principal Investigator: Todd Johnson, National & Homeland Security

Idaho National Laboratory Wireless Project, $150,000
Principal Investigator: Kurt Derr, National & Homeland Security

Advanced Manufacturing of Electrochemical Sensors for Molten Salt Applications, $75,000
Principal Investigator: Prabhat Tripathy, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partners: Boise State University and Inflex, LLC

Fabrication of Near-net-shape Metallic Components from Oxides, $75,000
Principal Investigator: Prabhat Tripathy, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partners: Boise State University and Inflex, LLC

High Temperature Next Generation Compact Heat Exchanger Development Using Additive Manufacturing Techniques with Embedded Sensor Capability, $150,000
Principal Investigator: Isabella van Rooyen, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: NuScale

Advanced Flow Meter for Extreme Environments (AFMEE), $100,000
Principal Investigator: Piyush Sabharwall, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: MicroNuclear

Rapid Field Chemical Detection Method of Actinides, $42,500
Principal Investigator: Catherine Riddle, Nuclear Science & Technology

Scintillation Hydro-Gel for Isotopic Neutron Emitters (SHINE) Neutron Detection Material for Nuclear Reactor Monitoring Systems, $37,500
Principal Investigator: Catherine Riddle, Nuclear Science & Technology

Neutron Spectrum Generator, $75,000
Principal Investigator: Wade Scates, Nuclear Science & Technology

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:



Application of Advanced Preprocessing Technologies for Biopower and Biobased Products, $300,000
Principal Investigator: Jaya Tumuluru, Energy & Environment Science & Technology
Partner: Lignetics, Inc.

Highly Dynamic Electronic Work Instructions for Advanced Reactors, $750,000
Principal Investigator: Johanna Oxstrand, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: GSE Systems

Meeting tonight on South Downtown I.F. Development Plan

The City of Idaho Falls Community Development Services Department will hold an informational meeting tonight with residents of the south downtown area and the public to talk about the Idaho Falls South Downtown Plan, a proactive planning document designed to guide development for the future in the south downtown area.

The meeting will be held at the Idaho Falls Library. The first meeting with residents will begin at 6 p.m. and the open house for the public will begin at 7 p.m. Both meetings will be held in Meeting Room Two.

In 2018, Idaho Smart Growth, in partnership with the Greater Idaho Falls Association of Realtors, conducted background research and initial public outreach for the Idaho Falls South Downtown Plan. Building on that work, the Community Development Services department formed the South Downtown Steering Committee, comprised of residents, landowners, developers, and interdepartmental city staff.

In April, a design charrette was conducted with the steering committee to formulate ideas to aid in the development of the area. The charrette allowed feedback that provided a framework for the draft plan. That framework will be the plan presented to residents and the public at tonight's meeting. Residents and the public are being asked to provide critical feedback and recommendations to be incorporated into the draft South Downtown Plan.

“The south downtown area’s central location and proximity to amenities makes it prime for reinvestment," said Community Development and Services Director Brad Cramer. "The South Downtown Plan is intended to be a proactive planning document which guides development in the area’s future. Guiding this evolution through a shared community vision is paramount to preserve the areas historic character and to facilitate positive business development.”

Thursday, June 20, 2019

EIRMC ER nursing unit named No. 1 in HCA system

The emergency room staff at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center
Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center's emergency department has been recognized as the best out of 185 HCA Healthcare hospitals nationwide. Nurses at EIRMC were recently recognized with the HCA Unit of Distinction award for driving excellence in clinical care and demonstrating outstanding performance in delivering compassionate, high-quality patient care.

“The Unit of Distinction Award is given only to the highest-performing ERs in HCA Healthcare,” said Matt Reeves, EIRMC's manager of Emergency Services. “Earning this award is a true acknowledgement of the outstanding caliber of emergency care that we deliver. It takes a high-performing team of nurses -- each demonstrating a deep level of commitment -- to achieve results like these.”

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Idaho Falls Parks & Recreation to unveil survey results tonight

The Idaho Falls Parks & Recreation Department will roll out the results of their communitywide RECreate IF survey at a public meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at The Waterfront at Snake River Landing.

“This is important to our community because it gives us information that will help us craft RECreate IF, which is our strategic plan and our comprehensive master plan," said Interim Parks & Recreation Director P.J. Holm. "Together those plans will help us determine what, where and how to build for the future of Idaho Falls Parks & Recreation facilities.”

The survey was mailed to Idaho Falls community members in April, and garnered hundreds of community responses.  It was also available for people to take online, to provide their input and suggestions.

“The mailed surveys had a really great response, well beyond what we’d hoped, that will provide us with statistically valid data for our plans,” Holm said. “The online component was also important, as it gives us more of a qualitative understanding of the how the community feels. Both those pieces together give us a pretty complete view of the direction we should be heading.”

The meeting is open to the public. Results from the survey, and information about RECreate IF will also be posted on the department’s webpage, located at www.idahofallsidaho.gov and at www.ifparkplans.com.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Fall River Electric Co-op annual meeting set for Saturday

Fall River Electric Cooperative’s annual meeting for owner-members, featuring the theme “People, Power, Purpose,” is set for Saturday in Ashton and will highlight another outstanding year of achievements.

First established in 1938 by farm families around the Ashton area, the cooperative now boasts over 14,000 members and more than 17,000 meters that receive power transmitted over 2,300 miles of lines. Fall River’s service area includes all of Teton Valley, Island Park, West Yellowstone and rural portions of Fremont, Madison and Jefferson counties. It is one of only three electric cooperatives in eastern Idaho.

The annual meeting is free to all customers that receive power from Fall River Electric. The day will start with a free breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns and a beverage, to be served from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. inside North Fremont High School in Ashton. In celebration of the co-
op’s excellent year, the first 500 members attending will receive a free ceramic knife set with peeler. Attending members may also enter a drawing for a $1,000 energy credit as well as thousands of dollars in other prizes.

As a family event, Fall River’s annual meeting will feature kids’ activities including bucket truck rides, bounce houses, face painting and rides in the Fall River Propane train. Nearly two dozen vendor booths offering information and free prizes will be featured, too. Vendors include an RV dealer, financial and health care providers and local agencies. Smokey Bear will also be in attendance, courtesy of the Ashton district office of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

For the first time ever, Fall River will provide a free Medicare seminar, conducted by representatives of the Ballard Insurance agency.

During the annual business meeting, which starts at 10 a.m., owner-members will be finalizing the election of three board of director members from a field of ten candidates as well as a couple of proposed bylaw changes Members will also receive a financial report. In addition to the board election, Anita Decker, former executive director of the Northwest Public Power Administration will be a guest speaker during the business meeting.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

New property management company offers help with rentals

Blue Pine Property Management has opened at 1820 E. 17th Street, Suite 135, specializing in managing residential real estate in Idaho Falls and surrounding areas.

"The community is growing quickly and the rental market is very strong," said Tyson Luthy, who started the company in April after more than seven years in the property management business. "We have developed a very owner-friendly management system that includes a 'vacancy guarantee' and 'pet guarantee' at no additional cost. These guarantees protect a property owner against potential vacancies or pet damages."

Blue Pine also owns rental properties in Idaho Falls. "We can relate to the concerns that property owners sometimes have," he said. "We believe that good management is the key to minimizing risk in real estate, and our experience and knowledge of the local market has allowed us to consistently help investors grow their portfolios and reach their financial goals."

The company offers flexible terms and a month-to-month management agreement that can be cancelled at any time. "We stand behind our work and don't want anybody to stay with us just because they are stuck in a contract," Luthy said.

For more information, visit the company's website, www.bluepinepm.com, call (208) 243-9492 or email info@bluepinepm.com.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Who remembers the age of the switchboard?

Switchboard operators in New York City, courtesy of the New York Daily News photo archive.
Raise your hand if you can remember when your phone number began with JAckson. Hmmm ... not many of you, are there?

Hard to as it may be to believe, but there was a day when the prefix to every number began with a word, its first two letters capitalized. Idaho Falls was JA, for JAckson. "JAckson 3-7393" may sound like a Wilson Pickett song (dating myself again), but it's actually the number I had for more than 30 years.

According to the Telephone EXchange Name Project, Blackfoot was SUnset, Rexburg was either ELmwood or ELwood and Rigby was SHerwood. There is a database where you can go to look up any town or city in the U.S.A. This makes me so glad we have the Internet.

Here's the cherry on top: A chart of Ma Bell's officially recommended exchange names. According to it, my smart phone number, 821-1285, should begin with one of the following: TAlbot, TAlmadge, TAylor, VAlley or VAndyke. I think Taylor rolls off the tongue best, e.g. "Hey man, call me at TAylor 1-1285." Of course, now you have to dial the area code first, another sign our world is in decline.

The past has so much to give us that's fun and fascinating. Could we marry the conveniences of the present with everything from the past that makes us smile? Or does the past make us smile because it's the past? In 50 years, maybe people will think of selfies as fondly as I do of my old phone number, OLympia 5-9822. I doubt it, but who knows? I don't expect to be around to find out.

Monday, June 10, 2019

INL Resilience Optimization Center established to help federal agencies, private industry

With impacts from natural disasters and human-caused incidents on the rise, resiliency — the ability to withstand impacts and rapidly recover from different degrees of disruption — has become a top priority.
With impacts from natural disasters and human-caused incidents on the rise, resiliency – the ability to withstand impacts and rapidly recover from different degrees of disruption – has become a top priority in the first two decades of the 21st century. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, disaster declarations between 2005 and 2014 rose 35 percent compared to the previous decade, costing $106 billion in federal assistance. Cyberattacks — more than half of which are preventable — cost an estimated $400 billion annually worldwide.

Now Idaho National Laboratory has established the INL Resilience Optimization Center (IROC) as an innovation center for system resilience and risk management. The center draws from INL’s extensive track record as a world leader in critical infrastructure systems analysis and security, as well as its unique, large-scale test ranges.

“Our national defense, economic prosperity and quality of life have long depended on critical infrastructures such as energy, water, transportation and telecommunications,” said IROC director Ron Fisher. “The rapid proliferation of telecommunications and computer systems all connected to each other has created new dimensions of vulnerability and risk to every organization. INL has been focusing on this in unique ways for a long time, and the IROC is INL’s commitment to offer resilience solutions to the nation.”

The IROC can organize multidisciplinary teams and lab-wide lifeline-infrastructure capabilities that are scalable to any asset, system or network, regardless of function or geography. Its experts also can analyze the resilience impacts posed by cyber-physical relationships and infrastructure dependencies and interdependencies.

In short, the IROC is a highly collaborative center that employs tools and resources from across the federal government, along with commercially available resources. By leveraging existing expertise, tools, test infrastructures and other partner capabilities, the IROC can comprehensively analyze the state of stakeholder resilience and provide optimized solutions that will yield observable results.

Forming a plan to enhance the resilience of critical infrastructures requires owners/operators to determine the ability of the system to withstand specific threats and then return to normal operations following degradation. Thus, a resilience methodology requires comprehensive consideration of all parts of critical infrastructure systems—from threats to consequences. The methodology must generate reproducible results that can support decision-making in risk management, disaster response and business continuity.

With the ability to provide personal attention to individual challenges posed by resilience gaps, the IROC can optimize a broad range of solutions to fit distinctive situations for federal agencies and private companies.

For more information, visit https://resilience.inl.gov or email resilience@inl.gov.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

INL releases grid cybersecurity open source software

INL researchers Rita Foster and Jed Haile demonstrate the capabilities of INL's Structure Threat Intelligence Graph (STIG) software. The product helps electric utility operators visualize and share cyber threat intelligence information.
A revolutionary new cybersecurity tool that can help protect the electric power grid has been released to the public on the code-hosting website GitHub. Developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory, the Structured Threat Intelligence Graph (STIG) software allows utility owners and operators to easily visualize, share, create, and edit cyberthreat intelligence information.

The ability to share threat intelligence is essential for protecting critical infrastructure like the electric power grid, water treatment facilities, oil refineries, and manufacturing plants from cyber exploits. Prior to the development of this software, threat information was too complex and cumbersome to share, limiting its application in operational environments. The new software standardizes the collection via Structured Threat Information eXpression (STIX) and converts complex data on cybersecurity vulnerabilities into a visualization that is easy to understand and act on. With STIG, utility owners and operators have a common system for sharing threat intelligence information, thus increasing the chances of detecting and mitigating cyber exploits before they lead to a cyberattack. 

“We’ve been working on the development of this tool for quite a while and have had success testing it with a major utility,” said Jed Haile, INL cybersecurity researcher and tool developer. “This software helps analysts process new threat information rapidly and makes it easier for them to find or create relationships between pieces of information.”

By releasing the open-source code on GitHub, INL researchers hope other developers will take on the challenge of making the tool even better and ultimately helping to better protect the nation’s critical infrastructure systems. In addition to Haile, INL Infrastructure Security Strategic Adviser Rita Foster and cybersecurity researchers Justin Cox and Zach Priest were instrumental in the tool’s development.

The team has been working closely to test the software with Southern California Edison, a principal member of the California Energy Systems for the 21st Century (CES- 21) Program, and the primary electricity supply company for much of Southern California. The company provides 14 million people with electricity across a service territory of approximately 50,000 square miles. Southern California Edison sponsored the research that led to the development of the software. Seeing the potential for wider application of structured threat sharing, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a request to release the open-source code.

The tool is available for free download at: https://github.com/idaholab/STIG.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Google makes good in class action settlement

$26.49 means never having to say you're sorry ...
Years ago BizMojoIdaho got bounced as a Google AdSense account for alleged violations of fraudulently urging people to click on the ads. Appeals were fruitless, as were attempts to restore the account.

My only explanation was that the Internet giant had taken umbrage at a tongue-in-cheek post from 2012 in which I didn't encourage readers to indiscriminately click on the ads but didn't discourage them from exploring the possibility of becoming a 7-11 franchisee. I was just having some fun, but within months I was busted. "What a humorless bunch!" I thought. I even got to talk to an actual Google guy from Chicago at a Chamber of Commerce event and he told me, "Yeah, they take a dim view of that." But it turns out it was a bigger deal than just me -- something I kind of knew all along -- and when I got a letter or email (not sure which) about a class action lawsuit, I signed up. What did I have to lose, right?

Now it looks like my wrongs have been avenged, to the tune of $26.49. According to this story in MediaPost.com -- Google's $11 million AdSense Settlement Gains Final Approval Ad -- this represents a fraction of what I may have earned if my account had been left up and running. Also note the lawyers made $3 million off this circus, but what else do you expect? Anyone have any suggestions on how to spend my settlement? Or should I wait for my Lumber Liquidators class action check to arrive? I'm sure it will be equally handsome.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Johnson Brothers opens new, expanded showroom in Boise

Johnson Brothers, a mainstay of Idaho Falls since 1905, has expanded in the Treasure Valley, relocating their design center and showroom to a facility with nearly three times the retail space of their old one. They will be hosting an open house June 20 at the new location, 2230 Cole Road, Suite 130, only minutes away from their previous site.

“This move allows us to further showcase our extensive product lines,” said co-owner Chris Sargis. “We’ll have interior and exterior doors, as well as windows, hardware, millwork, and specialty products readily visible. With trends shifting toward larger doors and windows, our expanded showroom will allow for the latest and greatest to be on display for customers to see and touch.”

The additional square footage will also provide both customers and staff with a comfortable design center where ideas can be fleshed out and visions brought to life.

The progressive retail and wholesale sales division, strategically located near other industry suppliers,
provides building products to users throughout the Intermountain Northwest region. “This move will help Johnson Brothers continue to grow and remain relevant in the Treasure Valley and beyond,” Sargis said. “The local market is still gaining momentum, so we’ve evolved into a true retail
location that services both end users and local contractors alike.”

Johnson Brothers carries general construction products from major manufacturers, including custom hardware, plastic laminate, casework, doors, windows, stair parts, commercial hardware, and fine architectural millwork. It also offers a broad spectrum of unique, niche and every-project items. The company offers personalized services, such as project management assistance, shop drawings, special orders, and value engineering.

Having been family-owned and operated for nearly 115 years, Johnson Brothers is an industry leader in the region. The company stands behind their employees and credits them as key differentiators from other supply firms.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Volunteers sought for 4th of July parade

The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce is seeking volunteers for the annual 4th of July Parade. Several tasks will be involved. All volunteers will receive a thank you bag with great gifts inside.

This is a great opportunity to connect with local people and businesses. If you are available on July 4 from 8 a.m. to noon, follow this link to volunteer or call 208-523-1010 #3.

As in past years, the parade route will start on Fourth Street, proceed west to South Boulevard, then south, ending at the intersection of Rogers Street and South Boulevard.

The 2019 Grand Marshal is Dr. Mark Peters of Idaho National Laboratory.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Vietnamese, sandwiches and a new bar: Three new establishments coming to downtown Idaho Falls

For those of you who missed it, here is a link to a story by Ryan Suppe that the Post Register posted on Monday: https://www.postregister.com/business/vietnamese-sandwiches-and-a-new-bar-three-new-establishments-coming/article_e356ac39-d8fb-5517-84de-d1883c840962.html. More great news from downtown Idaho Falls.

INL plans Power Grid Test Bed expansion

INL's Power Grid Test Bed is a 61-mile, 138kV dual-fed power loop complete with seven substations and a control center, all linked with state–of–the–art communications and instrumentation capabilities.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Idaho Operations Office is inviting the public to review and comment on a draft environmental assessment that proposes to expand the capabilities of Idaho National Laboratory's (INL) Power Grid Test Bed (PGTB). The test bed supports research, development and testing activities to improve the safety, security and resilience of the U.S. electrical grid.

DOE is proposing to construct a new 16.5-mile, 138-kilovolt overhead electrical line on the 890-square-mile INL desert Site. The new transmission line will consist of approximately 300 power poles located next to an existing transmission line. The new line will run from INL’s Central Facilities Area through the Critical Infrastructure Test Range Complex and end at the Materials and Fuels Complex.

The new power line will provide uninterrupted power for INL site facilities. Currently, researchers conducting experiments must disable and isolate an existing power line to conduct their work. The existing line will provide engineers and research scientists with a dedicated transmission line for conducting energized experiments and testing to support U.S. national security missions. The proposed action will support current and anticipated future use on INL’s Power Grid Test Bed.

In addition to the power line, DOE’s Idaho Office plans to increase the size of fencing around a nearby substation to support larger equipment necessary for the addition of the power line. Several gravel test pads located at various points along the pathway of the transmission line will be constructed or modified to support testing of power grid equipment, including diesel generators, transformers, circuit breakers, switchgear, load banks, instrumentation, and battery trailers.

The document, entitled the Draft Environmental Assessment for Expanding Capabilities at the Power Grid Test Bed at Idaho National Laboratory (DOE/EA-2097) was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and is posted for public review at: https://www.id.energy.gov/insideID/PDF/Draft-EA-2097PGTB.pdf.

The 30-day public comment period on the draft environmental assessment will conclude on June 21, 2019. Comments can be submitted by mail to Jim Jardine, 1955 Fremont Ave., Idaho Falls, ID 83415-1203 or by email to pgtb@id.doe.gov. Paper copies of the document are available on request.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

TRPTA meeting set for this evening

TRPTA buses at the agency's central station on West Broadway.
Representatives from the areas formerly served by the Targhee Regional Public Transportation Authority (TRPTA) have organized a meeting to discuss the status of TRPTA’s affairs and to initiate conversation on the future of public transit options in the region.

The public meeting will be held at the Skyline Activity Center, 1575 N. Skyline Drive, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Agencies invited to attend include Bonneville County, Idaho Falls, Ammon, Iona, Rexburg, state and federal representatives, and others who are involved with or impacted by the recent TRPTA developments. An agenda is posted on the city of Idaho Falls website and can be found here: https://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_05212019-725.

TRPTA's board voted to dissolve at an April 22 emergency meeting. The closure was the latest chapter in a troubled history that stretches back to 1994 and came after the Federal Transit Administration indicated concern regarding the agency’s lack of financial controls in November 2018. In February, FTA placed TRPTA on drawdown restrictions, prohibiting it from receiving capital expenditure funds, after a financial management report recommended corrective actions. Those restrictions led Idaho Falls, TRPTA’s biggest funding source, to withhold its funding.

TRPTA serves about 1,000 people monthly and provides more than 23,000 rides over the course of a year, according to board Chairman Michael O’Bleness. As well as running fixed bus lines, it provides rides to people with disabilities or who are medically fragile.



Thursday, May 16, 2019

Tru by Hilton scheduled to open June 11

This is what a Tru by Hilton looks like wherever one is built. The Idaho Falls Tru
is scheduled to open June 11.
Going by the website, it looks like the Tru by Hilton on Lindsay Boulevard will be opening June 11. “This hotel will soon be joining the Hilton Portfolio of Brands and is presently accepting reservations for June 11, 2019 and beyond” are the exact words.

Located at 680 Lindsay Boulevard, the hotel is owned by B&T Hotels IV LLC, which also own the Hilton Garden Inn next door and the Home2 by Hilton at Snake River Landing.

As a brand, Tru is aimed to appeal to a younger customer, in terms of both price and vibe. Hilton announced the Tru brand, its 14th, in January 2016, billing it as its re-entry into the midscale hotel segment. Its first-ever Tru property, in Oklahoma City, opened in 2017. ”I ultimately think this will be our biggest brand over time,” Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta said at the time of the brand’s announcement, pointing out that 40 percent of demand for hotel rooms is in the midscale segment, e.g. brands such as Comfort Inn by Choice Hotels and Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott.

Rates at Tru are in the $90 to $100 range. The brand is especially intended appeal to people in their 20s and early 30s who tend to favor modern design, public spaces where they can work and socialize, and advanced technology such as mobile check-in, according to the company’s webpage. Local snacks and drinks, including single-serving beer and wine, are available from a grab-and-go area. A build-your-own breakfast station is complimentary, and coffee and tea are free throughout the day. The play area features a large TV, and activities such as ping pong and foosball tables. Wi-Fi is free. Rooms come with either a king bed or double queen beds, in sizes of 231 or 275 square feet.