Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Morgan Construction, ESI announce merger

Morgan Construction Inc., an Idaho Falls-based commercial general contractor founded in 1989, has announced it has merged with Boise-based ESI Construction, Idaho’s largest privately held general contractor. The transaction closed earlier this month. Morgan Construction will become Morgan Construction, LLC a Division of ESI.

Matt Morgan, founder of Morgan Construction, will continue as a business development and client relations executive with the new company, working alongside the ESI team as the two companies merge capabilities and employees.

“(We) believe this merger will enable us to serve our clients at an even higher level thanks to the resources that ESI brings to the table,” Morgan said in the press release announcing the merger. “In addition, this merger will give myself and my wife, Lynne, more time to focus on people and causes we’re passionate about in this new chapter of our lives moving forward.”

Morgan Construction is the developer involved with Jackson Hole Junction, on West Sunnyside Road near Exit 116 of Interstate 15. ESI has project experience in eastern Idaho, most recently doing work for Idaho National Laboratory, with whom they worked on joint venture projects such as the Collaborative Computing Center and Cybercore.

“This merger of two great companies allows ESI an exciting opportunity to support already established clients and new clients on exciting projects by enhancing our efficiency and response to a broader market. Idaho is our home and we want to be able to serve all communities throughout the Gem State as we grow together,” said ESI’s president and co-owner, Neil Nelson. "Developing eastern Idaho is important to ESI and Morgan Construction. Matt’s talented team will have the full support of ESI’s resources so we can continue to complete great projects for our clients.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Bank of Idaho opens wait list for Paycheck Protection Program applicants

Jeff Newgard
Bank of Idaho has announced the opening of a wait list for Idaho businesses interested in securing funds as part of the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) included in the COVID stimulus package passed by Congress.

Businesses affected by the pandemic are eligible to receive low-interest loans under this program and can submit their waitlist application at https://www.bankofidaho.com/cares. PPP loans may be eligible for full or partial forgiveness if the money is used for qualifying costs and depending on the specific rules of the program. As soon as this program goes live, Bank of Idaho will start assisting clients on its waitlist.
In the first round of PPP funding, Bank of Idaho secured $96 million for more than 1,000 Idaho business owners.

“The PPP is a true lifeline for small- to mid-sized businesses,” said Jeff Newgard, Bank of Idaho
president and CEO. “With the pandemic still in full force, now’s the time for businesses to take steps to secure their futures. By joining our waitlist now, business owners will be able to submit their applications as soon as the program goes live. Even if business owners worked with another institution for Round 1 funding, they can choose any bank they like for Round 2.”

Bank of Idaho has been committed to community – and Idaho businesses – for more than 35 years.
With total assets of $551 million and growing, the Idaho Falls-based bank presently has 10 full-service branches in operation across southern Idaho. In addition to retail and commercial banking, Bank of Idaho also offers a full spectrum of trust and investment services, along with mortgage lending. For more information, please visit https://www.bankofidaho.com or call (208) 524-5500.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Fall River Electric Co-op mails cashback checks

This week Fall River Electric Cooperative mailed cashback checks to more than 6,200 of its owner-members (customers) totaling just over $1 million dollars as part of its patronage capital program. Because Fall River Electric operates as a nonprofit cooperative, it is in fact owned by the customers it serves which the co-op refers to as owner-members. When revenues collected by the co-op exceed operating costs, those extra revenues become patronage capital, which is then disbursed to its owner-members on an approximate twenty-year cycle. This retirement cycle helps the cooperative achieve its ideal equity level which also helps the co-op obtain loans at lower interest rates which helps to keep electric rates to members lower.

Unlike an investor-owned utility that pays profits to stockholders, Fall River Electric’s patronage capital is a customer’s investment in the cooperative and is used in building new or maintaining existing infrastructure, including generation facilities, poles, wire, transformers, and substations. These cash back payments will be especially beneficial to members who have been impacted by this year’s pandemic and can be likened to an infusion of capital into our area’s economy just in advance of the holidays.

The amount of cash back that a member receives is based on how much electricity they purchased during the years being retired. This year, members are receiving patronage capital earned in 1999 and a portion of 2000.

According to Fall River Electric’s CEO/General Manager Bryan Case, “Cashback payments made
to our customers are a unique and tremendous benefit of being a member of our cooperative. It is made possible with the approval of our elected board of directors. They analyze the financial health of our cooperative and only pay out patronage capital when it is in the best interest of our entire membership.” Case added, “Fortunately our staff and management continue to do an outstanding job of managing our financial and physical resources, so our equity has dramatically improved in recent years, now at 45 percent, which is a significant contributing factor to the board’s ability to retire patronage capital to our owner-members.”

To learn more about Fall River Electric’s patronage capital program, visit http://www.fallriverelectric.com/patronage-capital-2/.

Idaho Falls YMCA receives $5,800 from Arby's Foundation

The local Arby’s affiliate has committed to allocate $5,800 from Arby’s national Make a Difference campaign to the Idaho Falls YMCA. The funds will go toward underserved youth and families through the YMCA's Scholarship Fund in its Early Learning, School Age, STEM, Summer Day Camp, Big Elk Creek Camp, and Youth Sports programs.

“Our Arby’s Foundation fund-raiser helps to ensure that every child in our community has the opportunity to reach their full potential.” said Arby's Franchisee Amanda Roberts of Kona Inc. “We’re thrilled to be able to give back and reinvest funds in Idaho Falls for such a significant cause.”

The donation is coming at a crucial moment for the Idaho Falls YMCA in this pandemic-wrought year.
“We feel so fortunate for the generosity of the Arby’s Foundation. The timing aligns perfectly with our Light Their Future fund-raising campaign,” said Idaho Falls YMCA CEO Monica Bitrick. “This year has been especially tough for our families, and because our typical, in-person community fund-raisers could not take place this year, we're grateful that benefactors like Arby’s have stepped in to lift us up.”

As part of the annual the Make a Difference in-restaurant fundraising campaign, Arby’s restaurants brought in more than $4 million this fall to support national organizations dedicated to providing kids the future they deserve. In 2020, the Foundation will grant more than $6 million to over 300 youth-serving non-profit organizations across the country. Nearly half will be reinvested locally in communities across America. Additional funds will be granted to Arby’s Foundation national non-profit partners: Big Brothers Big Sisters, No Kid Hungry and Junior Achievement (3DE) to support programs focused on childhood hunger, youth leadership and career readiness. The Arby’s Foundation will celebrate a major milestone this year – hitting the $100 million mark in total grants given since inception.

Chamber names 'Distinguished Under 40' award winners

The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce has announced the 2020 recipients of its Distinguished Under 40 Award. This is an annual awards program exclusive to eastern Idaho that honors 10 young professionals who have gone above and beyond to accomplish great things in their careers, community, and education. The winners will be presented their awards at their place of business, and the Chamber will provide photos of presentations upon request.

The 2020 Winners of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce “Distinguished Under 40” are:

Anthony Hernandez, Teton Volkswagen
Beth Swenson, Idaho Falls Public Library
Brennan Summers, Office of Rep. Mike Simpson
Derek Moss, Premier Technology, Inc.
Jeff Carr, Museum of Idaho
Jordan Cammack, Thunder Ridge High School Drama Teacher
Josh Bristol, Rich Broadcasting
Katie Gasser, Visiting Angels
Kiersten Landers, Divinia
Mike Walker, College of Eastern Idaho

Friday, December 4, 2020

Pioneer League to remain in Idaho Falls

The old grandstands at Highland Park, which were destroyed by fire in 1975. (Museum of Idaho photo)
You can call it wishful thinking, but it is good news that Pioneer League baseball will continue in Idaho Falls.

Major League Baseball and the Pioneer League jointly announced this week that the Pioneer League has been designated a “Partner League” of MLB. Starting in 2021, the Pioneer League will transition from affiliated status to an independent professional MLB Partner League that continues to provide high-quality baseball to the states of Idaho, Montana, Utah and Colorado. All eight members of the Pioneer League – the Billings Mustangs, the Grand Junction Rockies, the Great Falls Voyagers, the Idaho Falls Chukars, the Missoula PaddleHeads, the Ogden Raptors, the Northern Colorado Owlz and the Rocky Mountain Vibes – will continue participating in the league and will maintain their existing team names and brands.

Idaho Falls' relationship with the Pioneer League dates back to 1940, when the Russets, a New York Yankees farm team, began playing home games at Highland Park, where wooden grandstands had been built by the Works Progress Administration the year before. Over 80 years, a dozen Major League organizations have had a farm team here. After Pearl Harbor the Yankees pulled out and the Russets became a co-op team, according to an account in digitalballparks.com. The Brooklyn Dodgers came in 1949 and stayed for one season. They were succeeded in 1950 by their the crosstown National League rivals, the New York Giants, who stayed three seasons.  There was a two-year gap before the Detroit Tigers came in 1954 and remained through 1958. The Pirates came in 1959, followed by the White Sox in 1960 and 1961. The Yankees made a triumphant and brief return for 1962 and 1963, changing the name of the team to the Idaho Falls Yankees, before the California Angels settled in 1964. The Angels remained through 1980, the longest continuous stretch for any one organization.

A spectacular fire destroyed the WPA grandstands in 1975, but a community effort led by Post Register Publisher E.F. McDermott and Club President Eugene Bush, a prominent attorney and state legislator, kept the Angels and the Pioneer League in Idaho Falls. Games were played at McDermott Field until Melaleuca Field was built in 2006-2007. After the Angels left, the club was affiliated with the Oakland A's, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres and since 2004, the Kansas City Royals.

As a Partner League, the Pioneer League will collaborate with MLB to provide organized baseball to communities throughout the Western U.S. and Canada. MLB will provide initial funding for the league’s operating expenses, as well as install scouting technology in Pioneer League ballparks to provide MLB Clubs with first-class scouting information on Pioneer League players. The agreement will also include a procedure for player transfers to MLB Clubs. The Leagues also will explore joint marketing, ticketing and fan engagement opportunities.

The Nov. 30 MLB press release followed the late September announcement of the Appalachian League’s evolution into the premier college wood bat league for the nation’s top rising freshmen and sophomores, as well as today’s unveiling of the new MLB Draft League in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia and Ohio. These are both part of MLB’s broader efforts to modernize player development while preserving baseball in the local communities in which it is currently played.

Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Economics & Operations, said: “Over the past year, we have worked closely with Pioneer League owners and elected officials to ensure the continued success of baseball in the Mountain West. We’re excited to support this new initiative and look forward to Pioneer League baseball returning in 2021.”

The Pioneer League joins the Atlantic League, the American Association and the Frontier League as an MLB Partner League. Each Partner League covers a different geographic area in the United States and Canada and attracts players of varying levels of experience. All Partner Leagues provide communities with high-quality professional baseball and share MLB’s goal of growing participation and engagement with baseball and softball.