Friday, March 22, 2019

Dutch Bros plans new store near Hillcrest High School

Students at Hillcrest High School next year
 will have no excuse for sleeping in class.
The city of Ammon building department received site plans this week for a Dutch Bros Coffee shop at the corner of Eagle Drive and Sunnyside Road. In addition to Kohl's and Modern Home, this places Dutch Bros' third Idaho Falls/Ammon location in close proximity to Hillcrest High School.

Charlie Allen, Ammon's building official, said the site plans have to be reviewed and the City Council must take action before any ground can be broken. Going by the usual pace of things, he said that ought to be in May or June.

Dutch Bros (pronounced as "bros," not "brothers"), of course, is the wildly popular coffee purveyor that opened two Idaho Falls shops last year, on Woodruff Avenue and 17th Street. Based in Grants Pass, Ore., it is the country's largest privately held drive-thru coffee company, with outlets in seven states, with more than 9,000 employees.

The company announced in October 2018 it had received a minority investment from TSG Consumer Partners, a company whose food and beverage investments also include VitaminWater, PopChips, Smart Balance and Pabst Blue Ribbon. The size of the investment wasn't disclosed, but Dutch Bros said it planned to nearly triple its outlets, from 300 to 800, over the next five years.

Radio Shack returns to Idaho Falls

Reese Clawson
Radio Shack is back in Idaho Falls, in the Albertson’s shopping center on the city’s west side, west of Ace Hardware. This is great news for us geeks who like a local place to find capacitors, resistors, potentiometers, fuses, jewel lights, etc.

The store is managed by Reese Clawson, who has a history with Radio Shack dating all the way back to 1982, when it was in the Yellowstone Mall. The new Idaho Falls store is one of two franchises owned by Vern Murray. The other is in Pocatello.

The Fort Worth-based company declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015. Once the domain of do-it-yourselfers, Radio Shack's corporate directors decided in the early 2000s to make a strategic shift toward selling cell phones and accessories. By 2014, mobile phones accounted for nearly half of the company's total sales, but this had its downside. When consumers gravitated toward buying cellphones directly from wireless operators, carriers began covering their rising costs by reducing payments to Radio Shack and other resellers. This was aggravated as well by an overabundance of stores, and the company's profit margins and sales slid disastrously. The chain emerged from the 2015 bankruptcy only to declare it again in 2017. It came out of the second bankruptcy in early 2018.

Clawson, the son of a ham radio operator, is happy to see the chain getting back to basics. There are plenty of items to make hobbyists happy, and gone are the cell phones and the DISH Network offers. “They’re not doing all the stuff that put them out of business,” he said.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Shopko to close remaining stores nationwide

Shopko will liquidate its assets and close all of its remaining locations, including its store in Idaho Falls, by mid-June.

The company was unable to find a buyer for the retail business and will begin winding down its operations beginning this week, the company said in statement released Monday. The decision to liquidate will bring an end to the brick-and-mortar business that began with one location in Green Bay, Wisc., in 1962.
 
"This is not the outcome that we had hoped for when we started our restructuring efforts," Shopko CEO Russ Steinhorst said in the statement. The company in February announced plans to close 250 stores, or about 70 percent of its locations, as it attempted to scale back the business and work through bankruptcy to  restore profitability and attract a buyer or investor.

That list was expanded at noon Monday with the inclusion of the 120 stores that Shopko had hoped to keep open, according to a document filed Monday in U.S. bankruptcy court in Nebraska. Prior to bankruptcy, Shopko employed more than 15,000 people nationwide, according to court documents.

Employees at Shopko headquarters, in Ashwaubenon, found out about the liquidation during an emergency meeting on Monday. Individual stores had team meetings to pass along the same information.

The bankruptcy court had scheduled an auction for Tuesday morning in the hope of driving up the price of initial bids that were submitted last week. On Monday, it announced the auction was canceled and a bankruptcy consultant would oversee  liquidation over the next 10 to 12 weeks.

The court filing indicates all store closures will be completed by June 16. The company said it continues to evaluate options for its optical business. Shopko had originally hoped to spin off the business into standalone locations as part of its reorganization. The optical business now becomes one of the assets it will look to sell in the liquidation process. The liquidation at the newly-identified closing stores will look much the same as what has occurred at Shopko stores that have already closed: Discounts will slowly increase over a period of weeks as the company looks to sell every bit of inventory and equipment on hand.

Shopko and its affiliates filed for bankruptcy protection on Jan. 16 citing assets of less than $1 billion and liabilities between $1 billion and $10 billion. It had sought a buyer that would keep a smaller number of the company's brick and mortar locations operating beyond bankruptcy.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Salon h.Davis moves to new, larger location

Salon h.Davis owner Niki Young
Salon h. Davis has opened at a new, larger location, at 3544 E. 17th St. Suite 103. Owner Niki Young said she has been looking for a few years for a place to expand from the 25th Street location, where she started the business in August 2009. Her choices were limited, however. “I didn’t want office space,” she said.

Last September, however, Young’s client Mary Shell of S2M Development told her about the 17th Street space. Shell and her husband, Mark, own the building. While 2,700 square feet was more than what Young was envisioning — “I would have liked something three times bigger instead of four times,” she said — the location was good and she had an idea for how she wanted the space to look.

It is a look she describes as “industrial glam.” The vents in the ceiling are exposed, there is an ornate chandelier in the lobby and waiting area. As far as appointments are concerned, the salon now has 10 stations, more than double the four stations on 25th Street. There are three pedicure stations, two treatment rooms and a break room for the staff.

Young, who named the salon after her grandmother, is planning a grand opening for April 6.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Car wash planned for southwest corner of Yellowstone and Sunnyside

L. Jones emailed last Friday to ask what is happening on the southwest corner of Yellowstone Highway and Sunnyside Road, where she saw activity. Our examination of building permits with the city of Idaho Falls Building Department today reveals there is to be a Pony Express Car Wash built there.

The new construction permit application from Wednesday is from Josh Howa, a Boise architect, and the owner is Seven Synergy Holdings LLC of Lake Havasu City, Ariz. The city collected $155,800 in fees, including $120,960 for water services (we can’t have a car wash without water, can we?) and $34,720 for the sewer connection.

This is the second Pony Express Car Wash in the area. One opened in Chubbuck in January, and was featured on Local News 8 with a story about its unique water reclamation system, which incorporates trenches and settling tanks. Check it out using this hyperlink: https://www.localnews8.com/news/pony-express-carwash-will-use-new-methods-for-water-conversation/954652818.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Fall River Cooperative offering scholarships

ASHTON -- Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative is once again offering scholarships to local area high school graduating seniors whose parents or guardians are members of Fall River Electric. A member is anyone who receives electric service from Fall River, whether at a permanent residence, a vacation property or commercial business. Over the history of this program, Fall River Electric has
awarded over a half a million dollars in scholarships to deserving graduating seniors.

Fall River Electric scholarships are valued at $2,400 and are paid in increments of $600 annually. In order to apply, graduating seniors must have at least a 2.0 grade point average (GPA) and provide a short written essay stating their educational goals and why they are deserving of a scholarship.

Applications are now being accepted from seniors enrolled in the following school districts:

  • Teton #401
  • Fremont County #215
  • Sugar-Salem #322
  • Madison #321
  • Jefferson #251
  • Ririe #252
  • West Yellowstone #69

Interested seniors or their parents or guardians may obtain a scholarship application by visiting the Fall River Electric website at www.fallriverelectric.com, then click “MYCOMMUNITY” and open the “Scholarships” tab on the dropdown menu to download an application.

Applications must be postmarked by Friday, March 29, or can be dropped off at any of Fall River’s offices in Ashton, Driggs or West Yellowstone. For further information or to answer questions, call Joni Amen at 208-652-7002 or email her at joni.amen@fallriverelectric.com.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Edward Jones adviser Mike Silver opening office at Snake River Landing

Mike Silver
Edward Jones financial adviser Mike Silver announced this week he plans to open a new office this summer at 901 Pier View Drive, in Idaho Falls' Snake River Landing development. "The new office should allow me to continue helping my clients reach their most important financial goals,” he said.

Begun in 2006, Snake River Landing is a mixed-use planned community now home to more than 30 businesses. “We enjoy providing a professionally setting and working with businesses to fit their needs,” said Eric Isom, chief development officer. “Edward Jones has been great to work with and we are excited for Mike Silver to join the Snake River Landing community.”

Located next to Love At First Bite, Silver's office will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm. More information can be found at www.edwardjones.com/mike-silver

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Idaho Falls Fiber begins pilot program signup

Screenshot from Idaho Falls Fiber web page
Idaho Falls Fiber has begun offering fiberoptic services to city residents within the identified boundaries of its pilot program. Anyone interested can visit www.idahofallsfiber.com or calling IFF Customer Service at 208-612-8725.

Idaho Falls Fiber has partnered for the rollout with four local internet providers: Direct Communications, Qwknet, SilverStar, and SUMO. Anyone in the pilot areas, on the city's south side, can visit the website and enter their address to determine fiber availability at their location.  Once a customer confirms availability, the sign-up continues by selecting a service package and provider.

“This is a milestone for Idaho Falls residents,” said Bear Prairie, general manager of Idaho Falls Power and Idaho Falls Fiber. “We’ve had great response from local internet providers and we’re now ready to roll this program out to the public. There has been a lot of support and interest from the community for this, so it’s an exciting time and we’re eager to start connecting customers.”

Once residents have signed up for service and selected their provider, Idaho Falls Fiber will schedule a site survey and appointment 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 to the customer.

The Idaho Falls City Council approved the pilot program last September. “This kind of a public-private partnership is exciting," said Mayor Rebecca Casper. "It allows the city to focus on infrastructure, something we excel at and it allows local internet providers to offer services residents trust from companies they know. It captures the best of both worlds.”

The new website also provides pilot program area maps, information on how fiber optics works, billing and service details along with a wide variety of other frequently asked questions about fiber optics and the service.

As directed by the City Council, Idaho Falls Fiber will use data from the pilot program to examine the feasibility and costs associated with expanding high-speed fiber throughout the rest of the community.

“We are anticipating strong support and signups to join the network which will validate the demand in our community for this type of infrastructure,” Prairie said.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Downtown Development seeks three artists for 'Living Walls' project

The Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation's Public Art Committee has issued a request for proposals for three murals to be installed throughout downtown Idaho Falls. The locations downtown will be at: 1) Villa Coffeehouse; 2) The SnakeBite Restaurant; and 3) Willowtree Gallery. The murals will be installed this spring and summer.

The committee includes: Catherine Smith, Miyai Abe Griggs, Chloe Doucette, Lexi French, Amber Deschamps, Alyssa Callantine (Shorty), Georgina Goodlander, Carrie Scheid, Lisa Schulz, Kimmon Richards, and Chip Langerak.

"We believe this is an opportunity to share the community artist members’ visions and talents to represent and honor our community and the rich history and future.  Our goal is to facilitate conversations between downtown patrons and artists to create work that represents the unique qualities of Idaho and our cultures that make this city so beautiful,” said Catherine Smith, IFDDC's executive director.

IFDDC is committed to the use of public art to convey positive messages about the community and to activate underutilized private and public space for the public to enjoy. Living Walls is as a project aimed at bringing public and private walls to life. Through the years, we have seen the historical painted walls create dialogue in our community with both appreciation of the past and curiosity.

The mural design would be informed by the artist’s own research and approach to design. The artist should be able to communicate the approach to research and develop their artistic content relevant to downtown Idaho Falls. The RFP is open through May 1, after which the Public Art Committee will meet and select three proposals by May 15. Each artist will be compensated $2,500 for the mural and provided $500 for supplies. Applications should be submitted online at this link: https://seasonpresale1819.formstack.com/forms/living_walls

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Funding drive starts Monday for Ronald McDonald Family Room at EIRMC

Ronald McDonald Family Rooms are aimed at providing a home-like environment for parents and families of children receiving treatment at hospitals.
In support of a new Ronald McDonald Family Room in Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho is holding a "Fundraising for Families” campaign this week. Monday through Wednesday, the community is being encouraged to make donations toward the construction project.

Kicking things off, Fluor Idaho has made a leading gift of $10,000. Since the project was announced in December 2018, about $515,000 has been raised toward the $766,000 goal.

Construction of the family room is scheduled to begin soon, and an opening is planned for this summer. When finished, the Ronald McDonald Family Room will provide a home-like environment for parents and families of children receiving treatment at EIRMC.

When children are sick, the thing they need most is family. Ronald McDonald Family Rooms are aimed at giving parents and families a quiet place to prepare something to eat, take a shower, do laundry, watch TV, take a nap, or even stay the night, all within the hospital.

Assistance is provided by RMHC of Idaho staff and community volunteers. To make a donation, text the amount you'd like to give to 208-721-9077 or visit rmhcidaho.org/familyroom.