Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A little bit of history for today ...

Researching my weekly history column for the Post Register, I  found an interesting ad on the financial page of the Sept. 7, 1920, Portland, Ore., Daily Journal. It might be of interest some of my commercial real estate friends. The copy reads as follows:

“Per Capita — Idaho Falls is One of the West’s Wealthiest Cities ... The fact that Idaho Falls’ immense wealth is based on agriculture and it is the trading center of a vast irrigated region makes it unusually solid and places its bonds in the class of PREFERRED INVESTMENTS ... ONE TO TEN-YEAR 6 1/2% IMPROVEMENT BONDS ... INCOME TAX EXEMPT PRICE TO YIELD 7%”

Bonds could be bought in denominations of $100, $500 and $1,000. The ad was posted by Lumbermens Trust Co., under supervision of the Oregon State Building Department.

Good news from Google -- and how to stay in the Big G's good graces

Oh my gosh, after eight years it looks like BizMojoIdaho is out of the doghouse with Google! My AdSense account has been reinstated.

I don’t know what got me banned in the first place, a mildly satirical column on the blog or the mistake of clicking a Google-sponsored ad that appeared on my page (a bigger no-no than I had any idea, obviously). Whatever the case, my appeals fell on deaf ears for years until this past week.

For the education and edification of any publisher with a web page who wishes to stay in Google’s good graces, here is a rundown of do’s and don’ts from the email I received Monday afternoon:

  • It is against our program policies for publishers to click on their own ads or to encourage others to do so. In addition, the use of automated techniques to generate clicks, such as robots or scripts, is prohibited.
  • Use the Google Publisher Toolbar if you want to click an ad to check the landing page or other details. It will allow you to check the destination of ads on your page without the risk of invalid clicks.

The email contains a few cautions as well:

  • Please be assured that we are logging all the clicks, so do not click your ads to make sure the clicks are reported in the Performance reports. However, there may be reasons that you don't see the clicks right away as it may take up to 24 hours to finalize clicks and impressions in your reports.
  • Please note that if ad serving does not resume after your account is reinstated, there may be other issues needing resolution.

So I guess we wait and see. I'm curious to see how the ads appear and whether they generate any significant money. This blog turned nine years old earlier this month, and a lot has changed since I started it. I really appreciate the people who've followed it, the people who weigh in with questions and suggestions and tips, also my faithful advertisers. Thanks so much!

Chamber seeks Distinguished Under 40 nominees

The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce is seeking nominations from the community for its annual Distinguished Under 40 Awards. This is an awards program that honors 10 young professionals who have gone above and beyond to accomplish great things in their careers, community, and education. To be considered, young professionals can be nominated by co-workers, managers, and business associates. The nomination process will open this Thursday and the deadline is Oct. 30

Since it started as the Club of Commerce in 1904, the chamber has grown to include 656 member businesses representing more than 27,000 employees in the greater Idaho Falls region. Member businesses represent more than 30 different business sectors. The chamber works to create and protect competitive advantage for business in the region. For more information about becoming a member, contact Aaron James at marketing@idahofallschamber.com, or Stacy Butcher at programs@idahofallschamber.com Or call (208) 523-1010.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Finding the right fit | Mike Taylor, Taylored Fit

Mike Taylor
Mike Taylor's college education started with studying business until an economics class brought him to the realization that it might not be the right career for him. After moving on to performing arts and finding out that his lack of piano proficiency would be a big stumbling block, he turned to his physical education professor and asked, “How can I do what you do?” He changed his major to sports science and went on to get his master's degree in health education.

“I figured out I can work with people, I can talk about exercise and biomechanics and things that I'm interested in and teach people to help them feel better, look better, and just be happier with themselves and their lives,” he said.

Taylor's approach is holistic and takes in nutrition, behavior modification, and activity in a way that is enjoyable for the clients he serves to help them meet their fitness goals. “One of the things people like about me is that they don't feel judged. We have that accountability factor but they know me, they know my story. I've been through the ups and downs of weight loss and healthy lifestyle management, so I'm no stranger to the self-shame and the self-loathing we go through,” Mike said, “I try to find out where they are at and go from there.”

Since college, Taylor has worked full-time at the health department as well as providing personal training. “The last few years I've noticed that I've been trading time for money. I was running short on time. I've been working well over 60-plus hours a week. I decided I've got to do something different,” he said. As an answer to this, he has developed an online coaching program. COVID-19 has sped this up and now Taylor has a fully virtual program for his clients where anyone can visit any time during the day.

The vision is to grow his business and create a platform that anyone across the globe can access. He continues to see clients one-on-one as well as provide his virtual program and some small groups. When asked what he thinks sets him apart he said, “Personal training. I develop and design your program just for you. I'm the type of trainer you need.” He feels that his experience and training allow him to create a program that leads his clients to success.

He shared that an uncle once told him, “Mike, if you aren't living on the edge, you're taking up too much space. I really like that, the edge is the defining moment of what happens. You either stay on the edge or fall off.”

He admits that one of his biggest challenges is believing in himself daily. Although he does that for other people, he still needs that for himself. He feels strongly that you need to have your own support system and that is what helps to get you through the tough times. “We have setbacks, we have to learn self-reflection. Don't stew on the negative, learn from it and move on,” he said.

Taylor's family is active in sharing the story of fitness. They have recently started a YouTube channel called Taylored Fit Fam to share their own lives and how to fit fitness into everything a busy family of six kids has to do.

When considering self-employment, Taylor advises others who love to serve customers and are willing to have integrity in your business to go forward and follow their dreams.


Check out Mike's website for a free eBook and for more information on Taylored Fit at https://mikethetrainertaylor.com/.

Follow the Taylored Fit Fam on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSEy9EliKpQXdihkJh6o0rQ.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Shepherd's Inn 'Win the Whole Cow' fundraiser goes virtual

Shepherd’s Inn, eastern Idaho’s long-established pregnancy support center, will be holding its annual Win the Whole Cow fundraiser virtually this year. The center operates solely on grants, donations and fundraisers, and this year there is an added level of community need.

“Every little bit helps, and moving the event to a virtual arena makes sense right now,” said executive director, Julie Zahn. “We can save the golf tournaments and spaghetti dinners until it’s safe to gather again. That being said, we really need everyone’s help to rally around our event and join us online in our raffle ticket sales efforts. The bottom line is we still need to reach our $15,000 dollar goal to keep our services at the level our clients need."

No one really thought in the past about how much this annual fundraiser relies on local 4-H clubs to raise the yearly beef until there almost wasn’t a 4-H auction this year. Luckily, 4-H and county officials found a way to safely continue the sale. Shepherd’s Inn advocate and annual benefactor Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot purchased one of the bovines and donated it directly to the Win the Whole Cow raffle. Thieman’s Meats is stepping up again this year to provide the cutting, wrapping and storage of the beef until the winner is announced.

The grand prize alone is valued at over $4,500. To purchase tickets, go to https://shepherdsinn.org/win-the-whole-cow/ and select the amount of tickets you’d like to purchase, then click “Buy Now” The drawing includes not only the chance to win an entire beef cow but multiple themed gift baskets and other valuable prizes,  There will be a live Facebook drawing and announcement of the winners on Nov. 1.

To learn more about the raffle or to make a prize donation call 208-525-2014.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

DOE greenlights Critical Decision 1 for Versatile Test Reactor project

Even as the Versatile Test Reactor makes its way through the federal approval process, the VTR team has already begun collaborating with industry and academia to prepare experiments in anticipation of construction.

The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday announced it has approved Critical Decision 1 for the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) project, a one-of-a-kind scientific user facility that would support research and development of innovative nuclear energy and other technologies.

Idaho National Laboratory has been designated the lead national laboratory for the project, heading a team that also includes Argonne National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Savannah River National Laboratory, as well as several universities and industry partners. Detailed cost estimates are not yet available, but documentation submitted for Critical Decision 0, based on similar projects, put the estimate between $3 billion and $6 billion. When the analysis of alternatives and conceptual design are completed, more accurate cost estimates are expected with a narrow cost range.

DOE is s considering locating VTR at either Idaho National Laboratory or Oak Ridge National Laboratory and is following processes outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to make its determination. Since clearing Critical Decision 0 in February 2019, DOE has been preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) as required by NEPA, to analyze alternatives and study impacts.

Critical Decision 1, known as “Approve Alternative Selection and Cost Range,” is the second step in the formal process DOE uses to review and manage research infrastructure projects. As part of Critical Decision 1, federal committees reviewed the conceptual design, schedule, and cost range, and analyzed potential alternatives. The VTR project now moves to the engineering design phase as soon as Congress appropriates funding. DOE has requested $295 million for FY 2021 for the project.

Frequently asked VTR questions

Versatile Test Reactor’s purpose will be to produce high levels of fast-neutron radiation to mimic, in weeks or months, the effects sustained over years or decades in a power reactor core. Existing test reactors, like the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) at INL and the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, are thermal neutron reactors. Modifications can be made to simulate fast neutron conditions and limited boosting of fast neutron fluxes in thermal reactors, but irradiation conditions (in terms of neutron flux and energy spectrum) are not sufficiently prototypical to create data required in a formal fuels and materials development and qualification program for fast reactor designs.

DOE’s Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee studied the issue and released a report in February 2017, recommending preconceptual design planning to support a new test reactor, including cost and schedule estimates. Companies developing advanced reactor including TerraPower, Westinghouse and Oklo, submitted letters in support of the NEAC report. The only capability for testing fast spectrum irradiation currently available to U.S. companies is the Bor-60 reactor in the Russian Federation. U.S. researchers and developers encounter multiple barriers when seeking access to Russian Federation reactors, including export control concerns for materials and fuels testing, intellectual property rights, and international transportation issues.

TerraPower: The Versatile Test Reactor Is Essential to Reestablishing U.S. Nuclear Leadership

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the approval of CD-1 represents a significant step toward re-establishing the United States as a global leader in nuclear energy research, safety and security, and developing new technologies that will help supply the world with low-carbon energy. “The Versatile Test Reactor addresses a long-standing gap in research infrastructure in the United States,” he said. “We have not had a fast neutron spectrum test facility for decades. Many of the new reactor designs under development by in the United States require this sort of long-term testing capability. Not only will VTR support the research and development of much-needed clean energy technologies, but it is key to revitalizing our nuclear industry, which has long been the model for safe operations and security for the world.”

“The approval of Critical Decision 1 establishes a solid foundation upon which the design phase can begin,” said Dr. Rita Baranwal, Assistant Secretary for DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy. “We have repeatedly heard from industry and other stakeholders that the United States needs a fast neutron scientific user facility to maintain our global leadership in nuclear energy. This decision puts us firmly on the path toward achieving that goal.”

DOE will make a final decision on the design, technology selection and location for VTR following the completion of the EIS and Record of Decision. According to the current schedule, final design will be completed, and construction would commence in 2022. The target date for a Versatile Test Reactor to be fully operational is 2026, subject to an adequate level of funding appropriations by Congress. The range for the startup date is estimated to be 2026 to 2030.

INL.gov: Versatile Test Reactor key to answering big science questions for university researchers

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Registration still open for REDI's annual conference (virtual this year)

Registration is still open for the “What’s Up in Eastern Idaho!” conference being sponsored Oct. 8 by Regional Development for Eastern Idaho (REDI).

Originally planned for May, plans for a live conference were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and over the summer REDI started making arrangements for the annual conference to be held online. Speakers are to include Idaho Gov. Brad Little, U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo, and representatives from economic development organizations and state agencies.

"We have an exciting line up of speakers presenting on hot topics surrounding our region, said REDI CEO Teresa McKnight. “Slots are filling up fast, so we encourage those interested in attending to register as soon as possible."

Registration forms can be found at this link. A conference schedule can be found at this link.

REDI was created in 2015 to connect businesses to resources for growth, build relationships, help nurture and grow world-class sectors, and be a champion in promoting eastern and southeastern Idaho, an area encompassing 14 Idaho counties. It provides comprehensible and pertinent information to enable timely decision making for business expansion, attraction, and regional growth. REDI works with stakeholders to expand regional assets and connect public and private partners together to facilitate research and collaboration efforts, strengthen the workforce pipeline through industry needs assessment, education and training, and to enhance research and entrepreneurial activities in the region.

Monday, September 21, 2020

I.F Mayor Casper heads ECA's 'New Nuclear' initiative

The board of directors of the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA), an organization better known for its work in advancing the cleanup of U.S. Department of Energy sites, has launched a new initiative aimed at supporting the development of new nuclear technologies.

Rebecca Casper

The self-funded, one-year initiative will focus on small modular reactors, micro and advanced reactors, a skilled nuclear workforce, and new nuclear missions around DOE facilities.

“With growing bipartisan support for nuclear energy in Congress, new federal demonstration projects led by DOE and the Department of Defense, and notable investment from the private sector, local governments want to be meaningfully engaged—and prepared—to match the strengths and needs of our communities with new nuclear opportunities,” the ECA said in its Sept. 15 announcement.

To focus its work, the ECA formed the New Nuclear subcommittee, led by Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper. It has identified three core questions:

  • What do communities need to know to attract and support new nuclear development/missions?
  • What and how should communities communicate to industry, national laboratories, and state and federal governments about local resources and development opportunities?
  • What hurdles and challenges will communities face and who can the ECA work with to overcome them?

The ECA, a non-profit, membership organization of local governments adjacent to or impacted by DOE activities, said that its communities host and support the nuclear research and development that is under way across the DOE complex. This includes, the organization said, the advanced nuclear reactors at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee; the production of high-assay low-enriched uranium in Piketon, Ohio; and the development of the Versatile Test Reactor and the NuScale small modular reactor at Idaho National Laboratory.

The ECA also points to private-sector initiatives such as Bill Gates’ TerraPower, Deep Isolation’s nuclear waste disposal solution, and NDB’s battery that is powered by nuclear waste.

“ECA communities are knowledgeable about and, in many ways, driven by the nuclear missions they already host,” the Sept. 15 announcement said. “These local governments are eager to fill vital roles, from establishing new U.S.-based manufacturing and supply chains to promoting creation of training programs at local community colleges around existing nuclear sites.”

The New Nuclear subcommittee intends to begin by hosting a series of educational webinars to facilitate interaction and develop a shared understanding of the outlook for developing technologies, messaging and advocacy strategies, national security implications, and supply chain impacts and needs.

The ECA will also develop written resources to support education and outreach in communities on specific issues, including understanding priorities and timelines, federal and state regulatory requirements, community and workforce needs related to siting, potential cost-sharing, and public/private partnership opportunities. New issues are expected to be identified through ongoing discussions throughout the project year.

Participation: Those looking to collaborate or provide educational resources, or those wanting more information about the ECA New Nuclear subcommittee, are asked to contact Kara Colton, ECA director of nuclear policy, at kara.colton@energyca.org or MacKenzie Kerr, ECA program manager, at mackenziek@energyca.org.

Gasoline demand, prices likely to slip in Idaho

As the summer draws to a close, fuel demand is starting to slip in Idaho and across the country, and gas prices along with it. According to AAA, the average price in the Gem State dropped two cents on the week, while the U.S. average was down three cents.

And there’s more good news on the horizon – soon, refiners and retailers will be making the switch to winter-blend fuel, which requires fewer additives and is cheaper to produce than summer blend.
Barring an unexpected supply issue related to wildfires or Tropical Storm Sally in the Gulf Coast, pump prices are expected to continue their slow descent this week.

"'Never say never' seems like an appropriate reaction for just about everything in 2020, but if we follow the normal trend, the most expensive gas prices of the year are already well behind us,” says Matthew Conde, AAA Idaho public affairs director. “It may take a little time for the last of the summer-blend fuel to work its way through the system, but when it does, we could see gas prices drop all the way to Thanksgiving.”

Today, the Idaho state average for regular fuel is $2.45, which is two cents higher than a month ago, but 31 cents cheaper than a year ago. Meanwhile, the current U.S. price is $2.19, which is a penny higher than a month ago, but 38 cents less than a year ago. Idaho ranks 9th in the country for most expensive gas prices, which is typical for our state.

The Energy Information Administration reports that national gasoline demand currently sits at 8.3 million barrels per day. Even though stock levels dropped by nearly three million barrels this week to 231 million bbl, that’s still a surplus of three million barrels over last year. In the Rockies region, stock levels actually increased on the week by 400,000 barrels to reach 7.4 million barrels on hand.

With an 86 percent utilization rate, Rocky Mountain refineries are currently some of the most active in the country, trailing only the Midwest region. As long as regional refineries stay busy and finished gasoline supplies continue to grow, Idaho prices are likely to stabilize or even decrease.

Tropical Storm Sally and the devastating wildfires in the West could delay fuel deliveries in some areas, but at this time, disruptions are expected to be temporary and site-specific.

“The United States is currently producing 10.3 million barrels of crude oil per day, compared with 12.4 million a year ago,” Conde said. “With fewer opportunities for people to travel for business or pleasure, commute, or even take kids to school, there’s less demand for some finished products like gasoline and jet fuel.”

After being distilled at a refinery, the average 42-gallon barrel of crude oil produces 20 gallons of gasoline, 11 gallons of diesel, and 4 gallons of jet fuel, among other things.

Here’s a sampling of gas prices around the Gem State as of Sept. 14:

  • Boise – $2.48

  • Coeur d’Alene – $2.33
Franklin – $2.44

  • Idaho Falls – $2.34
Lewiston – $2.43
Pocatello – $2.46
Twin Falls – $2.45

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Electric vehicle owners invited to participate in survey

Idaho National Laboratory will be one of the national laboratories analyzing data collected from electric vehicles and charging stations.

Although it might not be widely known, Idaho National Laboratory has conducted electric vehicle research for the U.S. Department of Energy since the early 1980s and plays a leading role in the national laboratory complex today, especially when it comes to data analysis. Over the last decade, INL has partnered with numerous automakers and private companies to understand how consumers are using electric vehicles and charging stations.

Energetics, a technology consulting firm, has asked INL and other labs to analyze data from its latest project. The Electric Vehicle Widescale Analysis for Tomorrow’s Transportation Solutions (EV WATTS) project will collect real-world use data from electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles around the country. Starting in January 2021, the company will share this data with INL, Argonne National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory so they can analyze it for ongoing electric vehicle research.

Right now, the company is calling for volunteers who want to participate in the EV WATTS program. Owners of an EV or a plug-in hybrid can volunteer their vehicle(s) for the project. Energetics will install Geotab telematic hardware that logs the vehicle’s driving and charging behavior. The program will cover the cost of the hardware, installation and subscription service for up to 18 months.

There is no financial incentive to take part in the study, but the subscription service allows participants to access their driving and charging data through the MyGeotab dashboard. This provides instantaneous reporting on fuel economy, mileage, maintenance issues, faults and vehicle activity. The dashboard also allows users to compare their own data with other vehicles in the program. All information collected by EV WATTS will be kept anonymous.

Nationwide, Energetics is asking for 1,600 EV/Plug-in hybrid owners to take part. Considering that there are more than 1 million such vehicle owners in the United States, one might think it no problem. But the profile of the everyday EV user is changing, said John Smart, lead researcher for INL Mobility Systems and Analytics. First, there are growing concerns across society about data gathering and privacy, he said. Secondly, the first adopters – folks much more likely to have a keen interest in every aspect of their vehicles – are giving way to people who just want to get in and drive.

With the rapid increase in vehicle electrification, there is a need for up-to-date, publicly available national data to understand end user charging and driving patterns, as well as vehicle and infrastructure factors that may affect planning. Under its $4 million contract with DOE, Energetics will work with Clean Cities coalitions, fleets, state and local governments, vehicle manufacturers, utilities, and charging station providers. The data will come from:
    •    All-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
    •    All vehicle applications (cars, buses, etc.)
    •    Multiple geographic areas and climates
    •    AC Level 2 and DC fast charging infrastructure
    •    Various electric vehicle supply equipment sites (corridors, workplace, multiunit dwellings, curbside, fleets, transit, ports, airports, etc.)

In the last study of this kind, conducted by INL between 2011 and 2013, there were far fewer EVs on the highways. The cars in the study – Nissan LEAFs and Chevrolet Volts – had limited range and performance.

Since then, almost all automakers have brought an electric vehicle to market. “Tesla is clearly dominant, but there’s more variety than ever before,” Smart said. “Americans love to have options, and they love bigger vehicles.”

In addition to the wider variety, many more charging stations exist than there were eight years ago. “Now it’s feasible to drive an electric vehicle from coast to coast,” he said.

Smart said having an outside organization collecting the data frees INL and other national laboratories to do more nuanced and in-depth analysis. “The industry can take the data and form the models that allow them to simulate EVs in the future, when there are more of them,” he said. “We need to know how many charging stations are going to be needed. And the electrical utilities need to know what sort of effect many more vehicles are going to have on the grid.”
How to register

If you own or lease an all-electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, and would be interested in having a Geotab telematics device installed for providing data to the EV WATTS program, please answer the questions in the survey associated with the area of your residence.
Eastern Idaho: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/EVWATTSEastern-Idaho
Blaine County: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/EVWATTSBlaine-County
Boise Area: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/EVWATTSBoise-Area

Monday, September 14, 2020

Bonneville County takes lead in incidence of reported COVID-19 cases

Wanting to be number one is usually a worthy goal, but it looks like Bonneville County is on track to be Idaho's top COVID-19 hotspot this week. Cases reported to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The number of total cases reported since the end of March has climbed to 2,208. While still small compared to Ada (11,953) and Canyon (7,687), a few things ought to set off alarm bells.

Number one, Bonneville County's seven-day moving average incidence rate per 100,000 people is the highest in the state now save for rural Custer and Clark counties. It's at its highest level since mid-August, when it peaked at 40.7. The statewide rate stood at 12.4 on Sept. 13.

Likewise, the first day of this week saw Bonneville outpace Ada and Canyon in the number of new cases reported.

If you want to browse the numbers, they can be found here: https://public.tableau.com/profile/idaho.division.of.public.health#!/vizhome/DPHIdahoCOVID-19Dashboard/Home. Meantime, let's be careful out there, OK?

Idaho Falls home prices up sharply in 2020

After watching a mid-century home across the street from me sell in less than a week we thought it might be time to take a new look at the housing market in the greater Idaho Falls area. What the January-through-August numbers reveal is a market in which homes are selling in the roughly the same numbers and at a faster pace than either 2019 or 2018, and at significantly higher prices.

The median price for a home in this area jumped from $193,256 to $246,054, an increase of 27.3%. This is confirmed by a report on Zillow.com, from August, which calls the market temperature “very hot.”

“The median home value in Idaho Falls Metro is $247,983. Idaho Falls Metro home values have gone up 11.5% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 0.4% within the next year. The median list price per square foot in Idaho Falls Metro is $119, which is lower than the Idaho average of $173. The median price of homes currently listed in Idaho Falls Metro is $260,000. The median rent price in Idaho Falls Metro is $1,200, which is lower than the Idaho median of $1,400.

Mortgage delinquency is the first step in the foreclosure process. This is when a homeowner fails to make a mortgage payment. The percent of delinquent mortgages in Idaho Falls Metro is 0.5%, which is lower than the national value of 1.1%.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

AmeriTitle names Jenny DeMott newest I.F. escrow officer


Jenny DeMott
AmeriTitle has named Jenny DeMott as the newest escrow officer in its Idaho Falls office.

The promotion comes after nearly one year in the title and escrow industry. In this role she is responsible for the closing of real estate transactions for buyers, sellers, and borrowers throughout Bonneville County.

DeMott is a southeast Idaho native who graduated from Bonneville High School. She spent 15 years in the dental industry before moving into real estate industry, earning her real estate license in 2018.

Her passion for helping people, love for the business and ability to adapt helped her quickly move into an escrow officer position, said Richard Hajek, AmeriTitle VP and state manager. When she isn’t working, she enjoys golfing with her husband, Ryan, boating with friends, traveling, and spending her lazy days with her stepkids and her dog, Brooks.  

“Jenny has a high level of integrity, a superior work ethic, and an attitude for service that makes her a great fit with our already outstanding Idaho Falls escrow team," Hajek said. "I am proud of how quickly she has transitioned and stepped up to take care of AmeriTitle clients.”

DeMott can be reached at AmeriTitle Idaho Falls, at Jenny.DeMott@AmeriTitle.com or 208-524-6600.

Bank of Idaho expands commercial lending division

Tony Vahsholtz

Bank of Idaho has expanded its commercial lending division, embracing the strengths of the Small Business Administration (SBA).

With an eye toward becoming the go-to SBA lender in Idaho, the bank is capitalizing upon its
comprehensive expertise in SBA lending by creating a cutting-edge, stand-alone SBA department headed by Tony Vahsholtz, formerly the vice-president and area commercial manager of the Boise Market.

"SBA lending has always been a passion of mine, and I've been doing it since 1998," Vahsholtz said. "Judging by current trends, I really think you'll see a lot of SBA lending done over the next two years. We want to be regarded as the experts in this market."

The shift creates advantages on multiple levels: clients will benefit from the enhanced focus of the new department; and the bank gains assurance because a larger portion of its small-business lending portfolio will be backed by the SBA.

Bank President and CEO Jeff Newgard said adding a specialized department was a boots-on-the-ground decision made after booking more than 1,000 PPP loans in a matter of weeks. "Our loan officers along with our small-business customers are really finding that the SBA is tailoring programs to provide a lifeline that's not available anywhere else. So it only makes sense to get that help to the small-business community as quickly and efficiently as possible."

For instance, the SBA has introduced a program in which they'll cover the first six payments of loans booked before the end of September. "That's huge. For larger loans, that could be hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Vahsholtz said. "And I imagine they'll make new offers as well, as the recovery continues. We want to be there to make sure small businesses in Idaho are first in line."

Vahsholtz officially began in his new role Aug. 17. He relishes the unique opportunity. "Bank of Idaho expanded into the Boise market when I signed on, just over a year ago, and this is very similar. We start up, expand, find the right people, and book some loans,” he said. “We’re very adept at growing the bank by simply addressing our customers’ needs. It's great to work at a place that operates like that. "

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Idaho Falls Costco reveals opening numbers

For Labor Day, Costco is offering it signature 10 inch round cakes. Available in white or chocolate. Baked fresh in house and available at all Costco Bakery locations. Save $2 off at the bakery through Saturday, Sept. 6.

Costco opened its doors in Idaho Falls Aug. 14, and while the grand opening was expected to be busy, it ended up being more successful than managers had predicted.

Over the weekend, 1,300 people signed up for a new membership. Approximately 11,000 members came through the doors and sales were 20% higher than anticipated, Manager Greg Gillingham told the Post Register.

“I think the larger warehouse helped to spread members out in the store a bit more so it didn’t feel congested or have lines at checkout,” he said.

I still have the Kirkland pink Himalayan salt I bought at the Pocatello store in 2017, so I'm on the fence about joining, but it's my wife who will make that decision, I suspect. If you have joined, here are some links that might enhance your experience.

25 Best Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco (Kiplinger)

The Best Things to Buy At Costco, Because We Know Those Giant Aisles Can Be Overwhelming (Woman's Day)

The 10 Best Things We Bought at Costco in February (Kitchn)