Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Deputy laboratory director nationally recognized for inclusive leadership excellence

Juan Alvarez, Idaho National Laboratory deputy laboratory director for Management and Operations and chief operations officer, has earned a Leadership Excellence Award from the National Diversity Council. The award recognizes individuals from diverse fields who exhibit exceptional leadership qualities and foster a positive and inclusive work environment. Winners must have an extraordinary track record of developing, growing and improving organizations, while serving as a role model for others.

In Alvarez’s time at INL, he has prioritized creating access to opportunities to innovate and improve the lab’s mission and goals. He’s also shown how inclusive diversity is critical to building an empowered workforce that sustains INL’s competitive advantage and helps the community grow.

“Juan is changing the world for the better and inspiring others with his work,” said Kemal Pasamehmetoglu, executive director of INL’s Versatile Test Reactor program and executive sponsor of the Multiculturals in Leadership council. “Recognitions like this further solidify INL’s visibility and reputation as an employer of choice and as an organization that empowers, supports and employs incredible people.”

In addition to his deputy lab director and chief operations officer roles, Alvarez also serves as co-chair of INL’s Executive Inclusion Council, where members provide visible support and strategic insight into where the lab is going to ensure deliberate inclusion actions for effective end results. During his tenure at the laboratory, Alvarez has helped embed visible diversity, inclusive thought leadership and employment equity across INL’s workforce, supply chain and charitable giving. He has also championed INL’s efforts to become a national employer of choice for women, people of color, people with disabilities, military veterans and the LGBTQ+ community.

Alvarez’s inclusive leadership goes beyond the walls of the lab. He also chairs the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs and co-chairs the city of Idaho Falls’ Connecting Us, Sustaining Progress initiative. Alvarez was honored at the 17th Annual National Diversity and Leadership Conference. See a full list of the Leadership Excellence honorees here.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Two eastern Idaho women named 2021 Top Women of the Year

Congratulations to Toni Karlsson and Marcella Medor, two women from Eastern Idaho honored by the Idaho Business Review as 2021 Top Women of the Year.

Medor, president and founder of MarCom, and Karlsson, a research scientist at Idaho National Laboratory, were among the 50 women chosen out of a field of more than 150 nominees. Both will be honored Sept. 30 at the Boise Centre during the 2021 Women of the Year gala.

Medor, a member of the Abenaki Tribe, founded MarCom in 2003. Today, the company is a Small Business Administration-certified, Native American-owned and woman-owned business with offices in Idaho Falls and Butte, Mont., providing management, administrative, engineering, nuclear operations, and health-and-safety services to Department of Energy (DOE) sites around the nation, with 90% of their

work coming from INL. To read more, follow this link: 

An Inside Look at INL’s Partnership with MarCom, LLC

Karlsson started working at INL in January 2019. She holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from Chalmers University of Technology, She earned her master’s in nuclear engineering and her bachelor’s in materials engineering from University of Idaho. Her research involves thermal properties of molten salts used for electrorefining spent nuclear fuel.

Here is a 2020 video of her talking about Molten Salt Reactor research activities at INL:

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

INL researchers help develop irrigation modernization tool

Modernization of irrigation of the West's aging irrigation system has been identified as a way to conserve water, produce power and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Reinvestment in the nation’s irrigation systems has numerous benefits. It can simultaneously promote the economic well-being of farmers and rural communities, generate more renewable energy, and advance environmental stewardship. Plus, such efforts could cut carbon emissions in the farm sector, a priority for the U.S. departments of Energy and Agriculture, as our nation works to combat climate change.
That’s why the Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), Idaho National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have created a new software tool, IrrigationViz, to help analyze the costs and benefits of irrigation modernization.
Irrigation technology has developed to the point where pressurized pipes can deliver water for irrigation while generating in-conduit hydropower that can be used to power electric pumps that currently rely on diesel, and in the future, also power electric tractors and combines. The rights of way for these pipes can also be used for fiberoptic cable, bringing broadband to rural areas that may currently not have high-speed internet options.
INL and PNNL’s IrrigationViz is a decision support and visualization tool that enables users to estimate how much water is lost by the current system, how much water would be saved by specific investments, and how much hydropower potential there is in the system. It also estimates higher value crops that could be planted based on the improved water reliability, water purification and habitat benefits of including wetlands, and connectivity between surface and groundwater sources.

This tool can help interested parties produce master plans, enabling them to identify the highest priority projects for their system. Using a combination of public and local data and geographic information systems, the tool helps irrigators produce the plans needed to access federal funding programs, such as those of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The purpose of the tool is to help communities identify the system designs that are right for them,” said Thomas Mosier, INL’s Energy Systems group lead. “The hope is that our tool can help stakeholders identify opportunities to achieve benefits for farmers, local communities and the environment. There used to be this one-size-fits-all modernization paradigm. The approach we’re seeing today is much more nuanced to the local context.”

The two national labs began collaborating in 2018 to find ways that hydropower could enable modernization benefits nationwide and especially across the Western United States, said PNNL researcher Bo Saulsbury.

“It’s really exciting to provide a tool to help assess and realize both short- and long-term benefits,” he said. “Near-term returns include more local jobs, higher profits for farmers, investments in rural communities and increased water supply for various uses. Reducing the carbon footprint of agricultural operations, increasing renewable energy generation and promoting environmental sustainability and community resilience are examples of long-term benefits.”

Federal investment in water and irrigation projects dates back nearly 150 years and is in large part responsible for establishing the rural economy in the United States. A vast system of reservoirs, canals, headgates, levees and culverts provides water to roughly 18.7 million acres of farmland, serving one-third of the U.S. population and generating half of the nation’s total crop revenue.

Since the early 1970s, however, the country’s irrigation infrastructure has remained largely unchanged. Billions of dollars are lost every year by a system that, on average, loses about 30% of its water to seepage and evaporation. Meanwhile, the demand for water has grown, not just from irrigators but conservationists, recreationists, industry and municipalities.

Agriculture is a major user of groundwater and surface water in the United States, accounting for approximately 37% of the nation's consumptive water use and 80% in the West. Efficient irrigation systems and water management practices can help maintain farm profitability in an era of increasingly limited and more costly water supplies.

Recognizing the economic constraints many canal companies and farmers face, WPTO is committed to offering irrigators the decision-making resources they need before they move forward with critical investments.

Monday, June 21, 2021

New Italian restaurant coming to Idaho Falls Greenbelt

A friend of mine who recently moved here commented to me that Idaho Falls didn’t have a “real” Italian restaurant. No offense, but Johnny Carino’s and Olive Garden didn’t count in her view. I had to explain the whole Olive Garden saga, and how it was front page news when the announcement came. But I understood what she was saying.

Little did we know as we spoke that a new Italian restaurant offering authentic cuisine was in the works. Mama Fla, Authentic Italian Cuisine, is eying an opening in the next few weeks at 385 River Parkway, next to the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Flaminia Cantelli is registered as the owner. She and her husband, Marco Assirelli, are from Rome and moved to Idaho Falls less than two years ago when he opened a North American division of Sensor Medica, a company that makes equipment and software for biomechanical analysis and foot orthotics.

As they have been remodeling the property Mama Fla has been serving food at the Idaho Falls Farmers Market. The projected menu will include fettuccine, linguine, lasagne, gnocchi and rigatoni with different types of sauces. Most of it is what you find around Rome, but the lasagne is from Bologna, in northeastern Italy, and they will also be serving risotto, a northernwestern Italian rice dish.

The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Take-out and delivery options will be available to customers as well.

Their web page is www.mamafla.com and their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/Mama-Fla-102018922059757/.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Phillips named Bank of Idaho retail banking v.p.

Jarod Phillips
Bank of Idaho has named Jarod Phillips vice president of retail banking, a promotion from his position as vice president/senior branch banking officer.

"Since before I arrived here, Jarod has been a key player in this bank's trajectory," said Bank of Idaho President and CEO Jeff Newgard. "As VP of Retail Banking, he'll be able to capitalize on that depth and breadth of experience. He's got great analytical abilities and he's an outstanding communicator. There's nobody better suited for the job."

In his new post, Phillips' responsibilities will include the administration of bank branches in all regions, providing oversight, guidance and direction on matters ranging from individual branch performance to staffing decisions. He'll work directly with branch managers to ensure that projections, expectations and customer needs are being met through engagement of the bank’s consultative model.

Since signing on with Bank of Idaho in July 1999 as a customer service clerk and loan processor, Phillips has occupied positions as a sales manager, commercial loan officer, branch manager, marketing director, and most recently as senior branch banking officer.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Fall River Electric ballot features seven candidates

Fall River Electric members will be electing three board members this month from a slate of seven candidates.

As a non-profit electric cooperative, one of the guiding principles of Fall River Electric is democratic member control under which an elected nine-member board of directors provides the strategic direction, sets policies, and makes decisions to ensure the Cooperative’s financial viability. Each year, owner-members (customers) of the co-op have the opportunity to electric three board members that will each serve a three-year term.

This year, seven candidates are running for board positions from three of the nine districts.
Those districts including District 1 Rexburg/Rigby area, District 5 that encompasses an area
from northwest Driggs on through the Tetonia and Felt area, and finally, District 6 which is the
Ashton area. All members of the cooperative are eligible to vote for these candidates no matter
where members reside since the board represents all owner-members. Voting can be done
online, by mail-in ballot or in-person at the Cooperative’s Energy Expo to be held on June 19,
2021, at North Fremont High School in Ashton. Winning candidates will be announced at the
conclusion of the business meeting portion of the Energy Expo on June 19.

This year District 1 incumbent Brent “Husk” Crowther is seeking a second term and is joined on
the ballot by fellow Hibbard area resident Rick Clements. Incumbent Brent Robson is seeking a
fourth term in District 5 where he faces newcomer Emily Nichols, while three candidates via for
one position in District 6. Dede Draper is seeking her third term where she faces fellow Ashton
area resident Britney Stegelmeier and Greg Bitter of the St. Anthony area.

Video statements from each candidate can be viewed on Fall River Electric’s website at
www.fallriverelectric.com by clicking the link “Energy Expo.

Written statements from each candidate can be found in the Energy Expo booklet along with
the ballot for mail-in voting which has been mailed to every owner-member of the Co-op.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Idaho Falls considers pilot program to monitor residential water use

To read the city's Water Facility Plan, follow this link: https://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/DocumentCenter/View/975/Water-Facility-Plan-PDF?bidId=

The city of Idaho Falls is looking at starting a pilot program to study residential water use that would involve giving 100 homeowners access to real-time monitoring through a mobile app as the city collects data it intends to use in its decision making.

In 2015, following discussion and public comment, the City Council approved a Water Facility Plan that provides key water system information, evaluations and recommendations regarding growth and sustainability of the water system. Both commercial and residential water conservation measures were recommended in the plan.

The Residential Water Conservation Pilot Program is designed to help shape the future of Idaho Falls residential water use while conserving Idaho’s most valuable resource.

“We have been monitoring some commercial property water use for up to sixty years, but this program will give us the ability to monitor residential property so that we can make more data-driven decisions in the future," said Idaho Falls Water Division Superintendent Dave Richards. “The new system makes water conservation easier for the user by literally putting it in the palm of their hand."

By monitoring water usage in various size homes and properties over the next two years, the Water Division hopes to gain a better understanding of how water is used in households and which water fixture replacements provide the maximum benefit in our area. The division would also gain critical data needed to plan for the city’s future growth and needs.

The program would be similar to energy efficiency programs dating back to the 1970s and '80s, Richards said.

If the program is approved by City Council, the Water Division will contact 100 qualifying homeowners to discuss the program. They would look for homes of varying characteristics (lot size, age, means of landscape watering, etc.). The Division would then install water meters within the existing meter pits on the properties of those randomly selected.

“The pilot program will not impact their water bill, and residents will continue to be billed on a non-metered basis,” Richards said.

Water usage would be monitored for one year prior to installing new fixtures. After that, the Division would schedule a tour of each of the 100 homes to help the resident identify a list of inefficient water fixtures (toilets, faucets, shower heads, washers, sprinkler times, etc.) that qualify for the replacement program.

The resident would have the option of purchasing replacement fixtures from an approved list of WaterSense certified fixtures and selecting a company to complete the installation of the replacement fixtures from an approved list of licensed and bonded plumbers.

The City of Idaho Falls would reimburse up to a maximum of $500 (approximately five fixtures) per household. The city would also reimburse the homeowner up to a maximum of $500 per household for the installation cost of a plumber.

Water usage would then be monitored for a second year, with the Water Division comparing water usage patterns with those of the previous year, before the fixtures were replaced. This could help determine which fixtures promote the best conservation potential for a future water fixture rebate program.

Although no date has been fixed, the Idaho Falls City Council will vote on the program at a regular meeting. To receive notifications about upcoming City Council meetings and city press releases, go to www.idahofalls.gov and click on the Notify Me button.

All City Council meetings are live streamed and archived for later viewing on the City of Idaho Falls website.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Commercial Real Estate Transactions | 7 June 2021

Wolf Holdings, LLC purchased 1.71 acres of land located at 1055 Jones Street in Idaho Falls. Dustin Mortimer of TOK Commercial represented the buyer. Paul Fife of SVN represented the seller.
K&R Commercial Properties, LLC purchased 1.43 acres of land located at 2458 Iona Rd. in Idaho Falls. Dustin Mortimer of TOK Commercial facilitated the transaction.
Eden Home Health of Idaho Falls leased 5,000 square feet of office space located at 2540 Channing Way in Idaho Falls. Dustin Mortimer of TOK Commercial facilitated the transaction.
B&E Ventures, LLC purchased approximately 6,800 square feet of industrial space located at 353 E. 1st Street in Idaho Falls. Dustin Mortimer of TOK Commercial represented the seller. Cody Mitchell of TYGRE represented the buyer.
Blue Pines Management leased 220 square feet of office space located at 610-640 S. Woodruff Avenue in Idaho Falls. Dustin Mortimer of TOK Commercial facilitated the transaction.
The Nova leased 1,400 square feet of industrial space located at 2295 N. Yellowstone Hwy. Dustin Mortimer of TOK Commercial represented the tenant. Randy Waters of SVN represented the landlord.

Source: TOK Commercial

Monday, June 7, 2021

Public review of MARVEL microreactor document starts

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the start of a 31-day public review period on a Final Environmental Assessment for a proposal to construct the Microreactor Applications Research Validation & Evaluation (MARVEL) project microreactor inside Idaho National Laboratory’s (INL’s) Transient Reactor Test Facility.
MARVEL, a sodium-potassium cooled, thermal microreactor with a power level of less than 100 kilowatts of electricity using High-Assay, Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU), will be capable of testing power applications such as load-following electricity demand to complement intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar – to help ensure reliable energy around the clock. It will also test the use of nuclear energy for water purification, hydrogen production, and heat for chemical processing.  
From Jan. 11 to Feb. 9, 2021, DOE conducted a public review and comment period on the project’s Draft Environmental Assessment. Comments received during that public review period, along with the agency’s corresponding responses, are published in the Response to Public Comments section of the Final Environmental Assessment issued today. DOE invites the public to comment on a proposed Finding of No Significant Impact for the project.

“Nuclear energy has always been a reliable power source that doesn’t emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” said INL Director John Wagner when the Draft Environmental Assessment was issued for public review on Jan. 11. “MARVEL is the next step that will allow for prompt, small-scale demonstrations of several environmentally-friendly technologies associated with advanced microreactors as well as larger reactors, which will benefit the nuclear energy industry and energy consumers.” 
Ever since the first useable amount of electricity generated by nuclear energy was demonstrated in 1951 at the Experimental Breeder Reactor-I in Idaho, nuclear power has played an essential role in U.S. electricity generation. Nuclear energy today generates nearly 20% of the nation’s electricity and about 55% of U.S. carbon-free electricity. That electricity is generated by large light-water reactors that each generate hundreds and sometimes thousands of megawatts of electricity, with each megawatt being enough to power about 1,000 homes.
International interest is now growing in microreactors: very small, factory fabricated, transportable reactors. Microreactors can be used in remote communities, industrial sites and defense bases, as well as for applications such as backup generation for power plants, humanitarian assistance, water purification, hydrogen production and disaster relief missions. Just like large traditional reactors, microreactors use fission to produce energy with no carbon emissions.
The DOE Microreactor Program supports research and development (R&D) of microreactor technologies. Led by INL, the program conducts both fundamental and applied R&D to reduce the risks associated with new technology performance and manufacturing readiness of microreactors. The intent is to ensure that microreactor concepts can be commercially licensed and deployed, and to reinvigorate U.S. leadership in nuclear energy.  
MARVEL will be an important step forward to provide industry partners with the ability to test new microreactor-related technologies and provide real-world, viewable examples of how commercial end-users could incorporate microreactors into their clean energy portfolios. The Final Environmental Assessment and proposed Finding of No Significant Impact, prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, are posted for public review at:
The 31-day public review period on the Final Environmental Assessment and proposed Finding of No Significant Impact will conclude on July 8, 2021. Comments on the proposed Finding of No Significant Impact can be submitted by mail to Garrett Kropp, 1955 Fremont Ave., 83415-1222 or by email to marvel@id.doe.gov. Paper copies of the document are available on request.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Showbiz Cinemas pulls out of Jackson Hole Junction; Ron Sayer, apartments part of new plan

The updated plan for Jackson Hole Junction

Jackson Hole Junction announced Thursday that Showbiz Cinemas will not be building an entertainment center at the Sunnyside Road development, but Ron Sayer Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, and Ram will be relocating their dealership there and Pioneer Crossing Apartments will be building 224 residential units.

“Jackson Hole Junction is thrilled to bring two fantastic amenities to Idaho Falls,” said Matt Morgan, one of Jackson Hole Junction’s developers, in a news release. “And this is just the beginning. We’ll be bringing more exciting projects to Jackson Hole Junction soon.” 

While ground had been broken at Jackson Hole Junction in February 2020, Texas-based Showbiz Cinemas suffered heavy financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has scaled back its business. Morgan and his partners “are re-imagining Jackson Hole Junction,” according to the company news release. The revised plans include dining, upscale living, retail spaces and additional healthcare providers.

Jackson Hole Junction’s first hotel, a Holiday Inn & Suites, opened last June and enjoyed a successful first season. The commercial center is looking to add a second hotel in 2022.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Allegiant to begin non-stop service from Idaho Falls to Portland on Friday

Idaho Falls Regional Airport will celebrate the inaugural flight of Allegiant Airlines from IDA to Portland (PDX) with a traditional “water salute” on Friday at 9:30 a.m.

A water salute is a traditional aviation ceremony to welcome a new flight, with fire fighting vehicles shooting arches of water over an aircraft as it taxis along the runway near the terminal. Passengers on the flight will also receive bags with celebratory “goodies.”

“This is a very exciting day for Idaho Falls as we celebrate a new flight that will open up a new segment of travel,” said Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper. “For the traveler, it means the start of a new era of travel options. And for all of us it indicates that eastern Idaho as a region and Idaho Falls in particular, are poised for some very promising growth in the coming months.”

The new route to the Pacific Northwest will be a direct flight twice a week from IDA to Portland. Originally planned as a summer service, the flights are now scheduled to run year-round.

“We are thrilled Allegiant has chosen to partner with IDA as they bring this new, year-round service to the region,” said Rick Cloutier Idaho Falls Regional Airport Director. “This new route is the beginning of three new flights this summer that will literally open up dozens and dozens of new options for travel with major connections all over the United States and internationally.”

The inaugural flight will depart from IDA at 9:30 a.m. The first flight from PDX to IDA will arrive later that day, at 1:30 p.m.  

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Schwarze selected for U.S. Chamber of Commerce leadership program

Chip Schwarze
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation this week announced Chip Schwarze, President/CEO of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce, has been selected to participate in the fifth cohort of its premiere business leadership program. The Business Leads Fellowship Program trains and equips leaders from state and local chambers of commerce, economic development agencies, and trade associations with resources, access to experts, and a network of peers to build their capacity to address the most pressing education and workforce challenges.
Following a competitive application and selection process, Schwarze was selected along with 34 other state and local chamber executives and association leaders to participate in the fifth class of this program. The yearlong virtual program, which concludes with an in-person meeting in June 2022, will cover the entire talent pipeline, including early childhood education, K-12, higher education, and workforce development.

“Education and Workforce are at the top of most business owners’ priorities right now. I am excited to be a part of this prestigious program to bring greater resources to the businesses of eastern Idaho,” Schwarze said. The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce works with businesses across eastern Idaho.
“We created the Business Leads Fellowship Program in response to the needs of our state and local chamber partners,” says Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president of the Center for Education and Workforce. “They, better than anyone, see the critical link between education and economic development, and we are glad to be able to support them as they take on this critical leadership role in their community.”
Upon completion, Business Leads Fellows will join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s dedicated network of 200 chambers of commerce and statewide associations from around the nation who regularly engage on education and workforce initiatives.
For more information on the Business Leads Fellowship Program, visit the program’s website.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Reed's Dairy announces fifth store opening, in Kuna

By Catie Clark
Reprinted from Idaho Business Review

Reed’s Dairy is finally coming to Kuna. The Idaho Falls-based maker of ice cream and other dairy products will open its fifth store in Kuna this summer.

“We hope to open mid-to-late June,” Alan Reed told the Idaho Business Review. “If all the dominoes fall right, it will be mid-June.”

Reed’s Dairy has four stores in Idaho Falls, Ammon, Meridian and southwest Boise. The dairy also has a wholesale business with retailers across southern Idaho and northern Utah, like Gossner’s Cheese in Heyburn and Logan, selling Reed’s ice cream cones; and Kesler’s Market in Blackfoot, selling the dairy’s ice cream and milk products.

The stores sell the dairy’s milk, cheese and ice cream. They also sell ice cream cones and other ice cream treats. One signature Reed’s product is the Brown Cow, which is a float made with Reed’s chocolate milk with scoops of Reed’s ice cream added. Reed’s also offers a home delivery service of dairy products and eggs in selected areas in eastern Idaho and the Treasure Valley.

The family-owned business maintains its own herd of dairy cows in Idaho Falls, which gives the dairy quality control over milk and ice cream production. It also gives the Reed family the ability to create their own recipes and innovations for their products like Alan Reed’s innovation of using potato flakes instead of nonfat milk powder in the dairy’s chocolate milk.

The new Reed’s Dairy store in Kuna is 2,563 square feet, located at 1353 N. Meridian Road, Suite 101, in the same shopping development as Ace Hardware and Ridley’s Market. Malissa Jackson of Colliers represented the lessor; and Mike Erkmann and Ben Kneadler from NAI Select represented Reed’s Dairy for the transaction. The details of the lease transaction are not public; however, according to Colliers, retail spaces in the shopping development have listed lease rates of $18 to $22 per square foot for NNN lease terms, with NNN expenses estimated at $5.50 per square foot.

The irony is that Alan Reed tried to lease at this location in the fall of 2016: “I looked at this same location when we first came looking to come to Boise. Then my realtor called me up recently and said, ‘Alan, you’ll never guess what spot just opened up in Kuna!'”

The Reed family has been farming in the Idaho Falls area ever since Alan Reed’s great-grandfather moved to Idaho from Iowa. The family business started its dairy operation in 1955 and began packaging and selling its own dairy products in 1962. Reed’s started making its own ice cream in 1980.

The first Reed’s store is still located at the dairy farm on Highway US-20/Broadway in Idaho Falls, though the retail operation is now on its third building. The business opened its Ammon and Meridian stores in 2017 and in southwest Boise in 2018. In a previous interview, Alan Reed said he would be interested in opening a store in northern Utah soon.

Idaho Falls seeks comment on housing issues

The Idaho Falls Community Development Services Department is asking for help on the issue of housing in the city, seeking input through two separate surveys and virtual public meetings.

The first survey seeks input on the development of a five-year plan for housing, community development, and infrastructure. The plan is intended to provide guidance on the creation of policy in the areas such as housing, economic development, public services, public facilities, and infrastructure investment over the next several years.

Known as the “Consolidated Plan for Housing and Community Development,” the study is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The process is intended to help the city in its efforts to provide decent housing, to expand economic opportunities and to provide a suitable living environment.

In addition to the survey, there two virtual public meetings have been scheduled: Wednesday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to noon and again from
5 to 7 p.m. To register for the 10 a.m. meeting residents can go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4886154222620060172. For the 5 p.m. meeting the registration is located at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5308108302453540108.

The second survey is designed to help the city solicit input on impediments to fair housing choice. The goal of that survey is to help identify whether barriers and adverse policies exist in housing areas such as rentals and sales, lending, insurance, and the public sector. 

In addition to the survey, there are also two virtual public meetings to help gather the input and experiences from residents and those involved in the housing industry.  That meetings will be held on Tuesday, May 25, from 10 a.m. to noon and Wednesday, May 26, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“This survey and the public outreach have a significant influence on how the city will spend the nearly $2.5 million it expects to receive in grant funds over the next five years,” said Lisa Farris, Grants Administrator for the City of Idaho Falls.  “We hope as many interested parties as possible contribute their voice on how those funds should be spent by taking a few minutes to complete the survey or attending the virtual meetings.”

Those interested in participating can register online for the Tuesday meeting at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4894227936502743564.  Those interested in the Wednesday meeting can register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4409209168234976524.

Both of the surveys can be found on the City of Idaho Falls’ Community Development Block Grant website at https://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/299/Community-Development-Block-Grant. Both surveys are available in English and Spanish. Residents interested in obtaining more information can also call 208-612-8323. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Hydrogen from Nuclear Power Test Set at Idaho National Laboratory

Reprinted from Powermag.com

By Darrell Proctor

A California company that introduced a new electrolyzer technology last year has announced an agreement with Idaho National Laboratory to test how nuclear energy can create clean hydrogen using the product.

San Jose-based Bloom Energy on May 18 said INL will use the company’s solid oxide, high-temperature electrolyzer to produce carbon-free hydrogen through electrolysis, powered by nuclear generation. Bloom on Tuesday said the electricity generated by nuclear facilities could produce “cost-effective hydrogen,” including during periods when the power grid has an ample supply of electricity. Rather than ramping down to prevent an oversupply of power, the plant can use its electricity to produce hydrogen.

INL, based in Idaho Falls, Idaho, is a nuclear science and technology lab. The facility’s team leads research, development, and demonstration projects to support and expand the use of nuclear energy. The group, like those in other countries, is involved with supporting the growth of a hydrogen economy, a sector with a rapidly growing market as governments and industries worldwide seek to decarbonize their operations.

‘Thermal and Electrical Power’

“The high-temperature electrolyzers take advantage of both the thermal and the electrical power that are available at nuclear power plants,” said Tyler Westover, the Hydrogen and Thermal Systems Group lead at INL. “This expands the markets for nuclear power plants by allowing them to switch between sending power to the electrical grid and producing clean hydrogen for transportation and industry energy sectors.” 

Bloom Energy’s electrolyzer, which the company announced in July 2020, converts water (or steam) into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can then be injected into the natural gas pipeline, or put into storage for future use in a fuel cell. The hydrogen also could be used by fuel cell-powered vehicles, or in industrial processes that consume large amounts of hydrogen.

The company on Tuesday said its electrolyzer “has a higher efficiency than low-temperature electrolyzer technologies, thereby reducing the amount of electricity needed to produce hydrogen. The steam supplied to the electrolyzers can also be generated by the thermal energy produced by the nuclear power plant, bolstering the overall efficiency of hydrogen production further.”

“There’s a heavy focus on carbon-free hydrogen production in establishing the hydrogen economy. As clean hydrogen innovation continues, the emphasis needs to be on efficiency to ensure that electricity from nuclear and renewable sources are used wisely,” Deia Bayoumi, vice president of product management at Bloom Energy, told POWER. Bayoumi said his group expects “to begin the electrolyzer demonstration with Idaho National Laboratory this year.”

Simulate Conditions

The Idaho lab plans to test Bloom Energy’s technology at its Dynamic Energy Testing and Integration Laboratory, a facility where researchers can simulate steam and load-following conditions as if it were already integrated with a nuclear power station. The simulations can provide the opportunity to model operations in a controlled environment.

Venkat Venkataraman, executive vice president and chief technology officer for Bloom, in comments shared with POWER said, “We must think creatively and seek all possible low, zero, and negative carbon solutions to benefit our planet. Harnessing excess energy to produce hydrogen is a solution with a positive impact on global decarbonization efforts and we look forward to working with the team at Idaho National Laboratory to make this a reality. As a result of this pilot, we expect to establish carbon-free hydrogen generation with the highest efficiency of any electrolyzer in the market today.”

An article in the April 2021 issue of POWER outlined the use of fuel cells to produce clean energy, including with the use of hydrogen. Several groups have begun participating in the market, including oil and gas majors such as BP, which recently announced details of what it called the largest hydrogen production project in the UK.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Island Park Realtor Karen Cameron earns national honors

Karen Cameron

C21 High Desert Realtors agent Karen Cameron, crushed it last year and she has the hardware to prove it, after being presented the Century 21 Grand Centurion Producer Award for 2020. This is the most prestigious award presented to Century 21 real estate professionals based on sales production within a calendar year. She earned the national distinction by selling a record number of properties in the Island Park area. She ranks number three in Idaho’s Century 21 offices and No. 31 nationally in 2020 Adjusted Gross Commission. Cameron is also listed seventh in the state for the number of properties sold within Century 21 offices.
“Karen is the only recipient in our C21 High Desert Realtors history, and one of only a few in the nation to be honored with the Grand Centurion award”, said company partner Kerry Howell. “Needless to say, we are ecstatic for Karen and also for everyone in the C21 Island Park office who helped handle this incredible amount of work.”
Cameron became a licensed realtor in Idaho and started her career at Coldwell Banker Eagle Rock in 1986. After getting a taste of the mountain-property life at Rainbow Realty in 1994, It was in 1996, when she became the designated broker for Henry’s Fork Realtors of Island Park, that the depth of her knowledge and expertise really began to grow, making her the go-to-agent for all matters Island Park. Cameron joined C21 High Desert Realtors in 2005 and has been building to Grand Centurion status since.
 “I love Island Park and the people I’ve come to know that have chosen the Island Park area to create their family memories. I really enjoy helping people, so this award is truly icing on the top of the cake for me, and thanks to my C21 High Desert team for the assist!” Cameron said. “It goes to show what a truly desirable area we all live in. Maybe we take it for granted being so close, but everyone wants a part of our gorgeous mountain life.”
Based in Idaho Falls, C21 High Desert Realtors was formed in 1996 and currently led by broker Patrick Malone and operating partners Kerry Howell, Randy Waters and Kevin Cutler.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Nick Terry joins TOK Commercial team in Idaho Falls

Nick Terry
TOK Commercial has added Nick Terry to its eastern Idaho brokerage services team.  Terry will specialize in selling commercial real estate investment properties.

A native of Idaho Falls, Terry brings 14 years of experience as a commercial lender at both Wells Fargo and Zions Bank. His skills in financial analysis, evaluation and deal-making strategies will benefit clients that he represents in buying and selling commercial real estate, particularly multi-family properties. His deep community involvement, professional accomplishments, and exceptional customer service will make him a valuable asset to TOK Commercial’s brokerage clients across Idaho.

From tenant and landlord representation to acquisitions, property management, and advisory services, TOK Commercial is Idaho’s largest full service commercial real estate company. The firm’s Brokerage and Property Management teams operate out of Idaho Falls, Boise and Twin Falls and serve clients in several western states, including Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Nevada and Utah.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Event center project applies for building permit from city

An artist's rendering of what the event center might look like

Things are moving with the Mountain America Center, which applied Monday for a building permit from the city of Idaho Falls.

The application, from the Salt Lake firm of CRSA, is for a 123,697-square-foot structure at 1690 Event Center Drive, with a job valuation of $51 million. The owner is Pioneer Front Properties LLC of Idaho Falls.

Here is a breakdown of fees to be paid:

  • COMMERCIAL PERMIT: $138,472.73
  • FIRE REVIEW: $22,225.63
  • PLAN CHECK: $90,007.27
  • EROSION CONTROL: $100.00
  • WATER SERVICES: $111,132.00
  • SEWER CONNECTION: $21,917.00
  • TOTAL FEES CHARGED: $383,854.63

"The project is as shovel ready as any project in the country," said Rob Spear, executive director of the Idaho Falls Auditorium District. Speaking at a mid-April Idaho Falls Online Lunch-In, Spears said they are looking at having the project finished in October 2022.

In the past year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the district spent $21 million. This was on the construction pad, parking lot, Event Center Drive (in partnership with Ball Ventures, owners of Snake River Landing and donors of the land for the center), and improvements to Pioneer Road.

A bond underwriter has been hired, he said, and they are negotiating with an investor. Bateman Hall/Hogan is the general contractor, and the operating agreement with Centennial Management has been finalized.

After bids went out earlier this year, a final guaranteed maximum price of $56.5 million was settled on March 31. This is the actual construction cost, Spears said.

With donations they've received rom Admiral Beverage, Teton Auto Group, Cooper Norman and MDU Foundation, the district faces a financing gap of $2.21 million. While Spear said he is confident they can close it, "The faster we can close it the sooner we can convince the investor that we're a good bet on moving forward." Naming rights and endorsements are still available.

To view the video, visit www.facebook.com/IFlunchin/videos/869618347219671

Friday, April 23, 2021

Duck Donuts schedules May 1 grand opening for Ammon store

Duck Donuts has scheduled a May 1 grand opening for its first shop in the Idaho Falls area and second franchise location in Idaho. The store is owned by Bonnie and Wyatt Wetsel and located at 2675 Sunnyside Road in Ammon, in the Hillcrest Plaza next to Hillcrest High School.

The first guest in line will receive a free Duck Donuts gift basket and a free dozen donuts every month for a year. To win monthly donuts there will be a drawing for a second customer, as well as more door prizes and merchandise giveaways.

The Wetsels have lived in the Idaho Falls area for nearly 15 years and own the 5 Star Truck and Auto car dealership. They have five children and recently became grandparents.

The 1,200 square-foot retail store reflects the franchise’s iconic beach theme and family-friendly atmosphere. Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pa., Duck Donuts opened its first locations in 2007 in the beach resort towns of Duck and Kitty Hawk, N.C. It began franchising in 2013, and now has more than 100 locally owned and operated shops across 21 states and one international location in Dubai.

In addition to donuts, the Ammon location serves Duck Donuts’ signature coffee blends — Riptide Roast, Light House Blend, and Sunset Pier Decaf-espresso -- donut breakfast sandwiches, donut sundaes, new menu items including frozen beverages and milkshakes, select retail items and more.

The store will offer indoor seating and, coming soon, outdoor seating as the weather allows. Curbside pickup is available by calling the store.

Duck Donuts and this store’s owners are committed to customer and employee safety as Idaho recovers from COVID-19. Employees will wear face masks. High-touch surfaces will be frequently sanitized and the store will remain in compliance with all state and federal guidelines. Plexiglass shields have been installed. Customers will be asked to maintain a six-foot distance from each other.

Hours are Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. to noon. Opening weekend hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. No seating will be available on opening weekend.

For more information, specials and donut topping updates, visit the Duck Donuts Ammon Facebook page or connect on the web at DuckDonuts.com. For more information about the company, visit www.duckdonuts.com.


Bank of Idaho 'Swing for the Green' tournament returning

After a pandemic-induced hiatus in 2020, Bank of Idaho has announced its annual Swing for the Green Charity Golf Tournament is returning this year. The event will take place June 24-25 at the Idaho Falls Country Club.

Bank of Idaho led the way in creating the CEI Education Endowment Fund in 2017. At that time, pledging proceeds from the new golf tournament would be deposited directly into the fund. Each year the endowments have grown, and in 2019 the contribution was just over $25,000. The endowment has a current value of $65,000, and the goal is to get the fund over $100,000 this year.

“As we’ve expanded our branches westward, we’re looking into ways to expand and share our endowment success elsewhere — to help other community colleges across the state," said Bank of Idaho President and CEO Jeff Newgard. "And to keep pushing fund-raising thresholds here in our hometown, we're adding some new highlights that I think will make this year's tournament our best one yet."

Past major tournament sponsors -- Teton Wealth Management, Fisher’s Technology and Townsquare Capital -- have returned to support this year's 25-team tournament. The event will feature LPGA professionals, a derby auction, shopping and customized player kits. A pre-tournament party featuring a four-course dinner, a wine tasting, signature cocktails and live musical entertainment will take place on the Idaho Falls Country Club patio the evening of Thursday, June 24.

To buy tickets or join the tournament, go to: bankofidaho.com/s4g/

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Kraupp honored as "Accomplished Under 40" by Idaho Business Review

Tyler Kraupp
Tyler Kraupp, director of marketing at Bank of Idaho, has been honored by Idaho Business Review as part of its “Accomplished Under 40” for 2021.

Kraupp is a “fifth-generation Idaho Falls resident with strong marketing and leadership experience,” an earlier Bank of Idaho news release said. Prior to joining Bank of Idaho, he started a creative agency and COO of a digital firm. Kraupp also served as and secretary of the business climate and economics development CUSP (Connecting Us, Sustaining Progress initiative) Panel in Idaho Falls. He’s also currently vice president of Breaking Boundaries, an Idaho Falls-based nonprofit dedicated to helping individuals with HIV/AIDS and to promoting diversity.

“The Accomplished Under 40 program’s annual honorees are first nominated by the Idaho business community at large, and then the nominees themselves must submit an application for consideration,” the Idaho Business Review article stated. “Based on a uniform scoring system, the judging panel then whittles down the list of applicants to 40 finalists, taking into account the categories of professional achievement, leadership, mentorship and community service.”

This year’s awards ceremony will be held virtually at 4 p.m. July 13. The honored individuals will be featured in a magazine published by the Idaho Business Review on July 16.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Three seats open on Fall River Electric Co-op board

Three positions on the nine-member Fall River Electric Cooperative board of directors are set for election this year, including District 1, Rexburg/Ririe area; District 5, west Driggs/Tetonia area; and District 6, the Ashton area. The Co-op’s board is responsible for providing strategic direction for the future of the cooperative.

If you are an owner/member (customer) of the Co-op living in any of those three districts and are interested in serving on the board, nomination by petition is currently open. To have your name placed on the official ballot, interested members are to submit a petition with their name on it accompanied by fifteen signatures of members who also reside in the district. Deadline to submit petitions is Monday, April 26, 2021. You must reside in one of the districts listed that have a seat up for election.

If you are interested in submitting a petition to be a candidate, please contact Fall River’s CEO Bryan Case at (208) 652-7431 or by email at bryan.case@fallriverelectric.com. Remember, the deadline to present your petition is Monday, April 26.

For further information on the duties of board members and the qualifications, refer to pages 7 through 11 of the cooperative’s bylaws which can be found at https://www.fallriverelectric.com/bylaws.

Monday, April 12, 2021

McDonald's Is Closing Hundreds of Walmart Locations


At the end of last month, some Wal-mart shoppers in Ammon, Idaho were surprised when they noticed that the in-store McDonald's had closed after 18 years of serving customers who got hungry pushing their carts up and down the aisles. Lindsay Rainey, a spokesperson for McDonald's USA, told East Idaho News that two of its other restaurants inside Idaho Walmarts would also be closing. 

"Our people are one of our highest priorities, and with the closure in Ammon, all employees of the restaurant have been offered positions at [other McDonald's locations]," Rainey said. "Closing a restaurant is a difficult decision in any town but we look forward to continuing to serve our customers at our other McDonald's restaurants in the neighboring communities."

The McDonald's inside a Walmart in Camden, Delaware—the town's only McD's—also closed last month, as did three in-Walmart locations in Bradenton, Florida. According to The Wall Street Journal, these closures aren't the only ones: McDonald's is reportedly shuttering all but 150 of its Walmart-based restaurant locations between now and this summer. (Walmart's website says there are currently 4,743 Walmarts scattered throughout the United States. If you took AP Math, you've already calculated that just over 3 percent of Walmarts will still have an in-store McDonald's.) 

McDonald's and Walmart have had a symbiotic relationship since 1994 and, at one point, 1,000 Walmarts had their own McDonald's locations. That number had slipped to around 875 by 2012, dropped to 638 in 2017, and fell to about 500 by the beginning of 2020. The fast-food giant went through two rounds of Walmart-related closures last year, which were both planned before the pandemic—although the Journal reports that McDonald's "sped them up" when things took an unprecedented turn. 

Last July, McDonald's announced that it would be closing 200 restaurant locations—including 100 that were inside Walmart stores—due to decreases in sales volume. Analysts noted that capacity restrictions inside retailers and an increase in grocery deliveries and curbside pickups likely contributed to a decline in demand for those locations. And then there was our newfound preference for the drive-thru. Kevin Ozan, McDonald's Chief Financial Officer, said that a super-sized 90 percent of the chain's sales were made through drive-thru windows during the second quarter of last year.

Walmart is now trying to figure out what to do with those now-empty spaces where a McDonald's used to be. The Journal reports that it is giving Taco Bell a trial run in some locations, others may get a Domino's Pizza (some 30 Walmarts already have a Domino's), and it plans to open at least 10 Charleys Philly Steaks in some stores. It is also giving smoothie vending machines a try. "We took a turn to make sure what we are doing matched up with the strategy for the company," Linne Fulcher, Walmart's vice president of customer strategy, said. 

If you're a loyal McCustomer, this shouldn't affect your ability to get a Big Mac meal at all: McDonald's still opened around 500 restaurants worldwide last year, and has plans to open another 1,300 new locations before the end of 2021. 


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Pole fitness studio opening in Idaho Falls


Chelsea Barnes
Reprinted from EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS – A new type of exercise experience is coming to eastern Idaho this spring.

Pre-registration is now open for pole fitness classes at The Pole Experience, a new tenant moving into Patriot Park at 2295 North Yellowstone Highway in Idaho Falls the first week of May.

Owner Chelsea Barnes tells EastIdahoNews.com there are sometimes misconceptions about this type of business. She says The Pole Experience is about fitness, and is not related to strip clubs, dancing or anything of a sexual nature.

“I’ve gotten that question a lot,” Barnes says. “A lot of the classes are similar to Zumba, very upbeat and fun. We’ll be (using a pole) and doing squats and lunges and things like that to build body strength, not any kind of dance routines.”

There are three levels of classes focused on developing full-body strength, muscle definition and flexibility. Those who graduate from these classes will move on to more advanced instruction in Inversion 1 and 2.

“Inversion is kind of like what you see on TikTok and Instagram — people flipping upside down, doing crazy spins, climbing a 12-foot pole, and back bending down the pole. Those are things you should not try to attempt right off the bat,” says Barnes.

Barnes was introduced to pole fitness in 2011 after graduating from Ririe High School and moving to New York City. One of her friends had lived in Denver, Colorado and Las Vegas, Nevada, where pole fitness gyms were fairly common.

They drove past a pole fitness gym while on a road trip in New York and decided to take some classes.

“They had six levels at the studio I went to. I was at level four when we moved back here (in 2014),” Barnes says. “A lot of the very high up, aerial stuff, I had a little bit of experience with but I hadn’t gotten quite to that stage.”

With no place to practice in eastern Idaho, Barnes tried continuing with her own pole at home but was ultimately forced to give it up because the space wasn’t big enough.

She first thought about opening a pole fitness business of her own several years ago.

“I was probably seeing five posts a week on social media asking if there were any pole fitness or pole dancing places. We’d been sitting on a business plan for two years and decided we just need to do it,” says Barnes.

Just as the project was gaining momentum, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and put a halt on everything.

But she’s excited the project is moving forward again and is happy others seem to be interested as well.

“We already have three classes that are full. Registration is open for seven others … and they’re at least half full,” Barnes says.

Classes are open to anyone 18 and older. Barnes is eager to share something she’s passionate about with others and invites locals to give it a try.

“I want to emphasize you don’t have to have the perfect body strength (to participate). Any stage you’re in with weight or age, you’re welcome to come,” she says.

Barnes worked with Randy Waters at SVN High Desert Commercial and Century 21 High Desert in acquiring the 1,400-square-foot space. Patriot Park is next to State Trailer RV and Outdoor Supply.

To pre-register or learn more, visit the website or Facebook page.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Paycheck Protection loan application deadline extended to May 31

Jeff Newgard
The PPP Extension Act, signed Tuesday by President Joe Biden, will lengthen the application period for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by two months.

Originally scheduled to expire at the end of March, the extension gives small businesses until May 31 to apply for PPP loans and gives the Small Business Administration until June 30 to consider applications.

"If you own a small business and have been on the fence about participating in the program, I'd encourage you to apply," said Bank of Idaho President and CEO Jeff Newgard. "While many other institutions have stepped back from their PPP lending programs, we still consider it an important service – as a matter of fact, we recently created a new SBA department."

Initiated early in the pandemic crisis, PPP loans are credited with saving hundreds of thousands of American small businesses. This first round of loans deadlined in 2020.

The second round opened for application in January 2021. Businesses affected by the Coronavirus pandemic could be eligible to receive a low-interest-rate loans under this program and can submit their 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 upon eligibility.

For the second round, SBA removed a cap on small loans to encourage lenders to work with smaller borrowers. Also, $15 billion was set aside for lending institutions with less than $1 billion in assets, and another $15 billion was earmarked for banks with less than $10 billion. Second-round applicants are limited to loans under $2 million, with a total loan amount from both rounds under $10 million.

I.F. Downtown Development names social media, marketing specialist

Gibby Smede
The Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation (IFDDC) has brought on Gibby Smede, a local artist, as its social media and marketing specialist. Smede will be responsible for communications and social media campaigns to promote downtown Idaho Falls.

Smede is the creator of Pugsslane Alley in downtown Idaho Falls and joins IFDDC in an exceptional time of growth and progress. Construction projects over the last four years have been well under way with the completion of The Broadway development, the Downtown Event Center and the Bonneville Apartments, which have brought new life to the historic Hotel Bonneville, first built in the late 1920s.

A handful of new businesses plan to open in mid-to-late summer this year and construction projects that began before the COVID-19 pandemic have begun to make good progress, said Catherine Smith, IFDDC's executive director. With a focus on social media reach, Smede’s work will be focused on IFDDC's mission to advance downtown as the regional center for commerce, culture and leisure activities.

“We are optimistic the good work of IFDDC will continue as we move forward on projects that will thrive with Gibby’s creative eye and colorful talents," Smith said. "Public art installations are planned for this summer and new marketing efforts to promote the cultural and historic center of Idaho Falls will benefit from Gibby’s talents.”

For more information about IFDDC, visit http://downtownidahofalls.com.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Idaho Falls Power begins major 161kv powerline construction


Bear Prairie
 power project more than four decades in the making is getting underway in Idaho Falls that will improve power transmission capacity and provide critical redundancy to the power system throughout Idaho Falls and across east Idaho.

Originally conceptualized in the 1980s, Idaho Falls Power (IFP) started examining routing options and public outreach to determine the best routes for the second half of a major 161kv power line built along the southern portion of Idaho Falls.

In 2011 IFP paused work on the project as the utility addressed legal challenges and focused on working with landowners to pursue additional land acquisitions and rights-of way for the 14-mile-long project.

“Obviously this is a large and critically important project for Idaho Falls and the surrounding area,” said Idaho Falls Power General Manager Bear Prairie.  “Our residents and businesses depend on our ability to provide stable and reliable sources of power.  We can produce all the energy in the world, but without a way to transmit that power to our customers, it’s of no value.  This project provides a must needed key element to a reliable power system to carry energy to critical areas of growth in and around the city.”

In 2017, IFP partnered with Rocky Mountain Power on the project to make it a dual use line that will also serve the growing needs of RMP customers. In addition to circling Idaho Falls to the north, RMP will also build an additional line that will improve service to their customers in Eastern Idaho.

The line will provide critical transmission upgrades and service capabilities for IFP customer’s around the rapidly growing north and west side of Idaho Falls. The line will connect to the existing Sugarmill substation along Hitt Road and extend north across Lincoln and Yellowstone.  The line will cross over U.S. Highway 20 near 25th then travel to the west and across the Snake River.

The power line will then connect to a new IFP substation, which is also currently under construction, near Idahoan Foods and the Upper Power Plant off of West River Road in the northwest area of Idaho Falls along the Snake River.

Summit Line Construction, the contractor for the project, has been drilling holes along the new route in order to provide foundations for the new poles to be installed.  Concrete pouring for those foundations will begin soon, and installation of the poles should begin sometime in the next six to 12 weeks, depending on conditions.

IFP anticipates that the project will be completed and ready for service by this fall.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Bank of Idaho names new v.p. and trust officer

John Kociolek
John Kociolek has taken a position with Bank of Idaho as a vice president and trust officer. He will be responsible for day-to-day trust and estate administration, as well as new business development in the Boise area.

Kociolek has been in the trust and estate business since 1980. He has previously served as the National Estate Settlement Manager for Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh; Market Trust Executive for Bank of America in Tampa and Orlando; and was recently the National Trust and Estate Manager for Capital Bank and Trust Company in Reno, Nevada.

"We're fortunate to land a candidate with John's credentials," said Bank of Idaho VP and Trust Department Manager Jeremy Parkinson. "Our clients will directly benefit from the depth and breadth of knowledge he brings to the table."

The hire allows Parkinson to focus his energy on big-picture strategy and growth. "With a staff of nine now, we're really able to give all of our clients a personal touch, which is really important in trust and wealth management work." he said. "We're not just managing investments, we're helping people plan for the future. We advise them in lots of different areas of their financial world."

Parkinson said that although he and his staff have had great success working remotely with their clients over the past year, they will all welcome a return to face-to-face conversations. "The better we know people, the better we're able to help them, and for that, there's no substitute for meeting in person," Parkinson said. “We've assembled a great team of experts, but we are continuing to look for opportunities to grow in the Boise market and eastern Idaho. I believe we're assembling the best team of trust and
wealth experts of any community bank in the state.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Super Chix plans to open in Ammon on Wednesday

Super Chix will have a soft opening Wednesday at 11 a.m. at its new Ammon location inside the Hillcrest Plaza, 2671 East Sunnyside Road, with a grand opening to follow Saturday. For that event, the first 100 people through the door will receive a free chicken sandwich and a free regular fry.”

Super Chix is a fast-casual dining franchise that offers a variety of chicken sandwiches, hand-cut fries, salads and frozen custard. The restaurant comes courtesy of Flying H Holdings, LLC, the same franchise company involved in bringing Five Guys to Ammon. Company President Bill Hawes told East Idaho News in December that the experience played a role in his decision to open Super Chix.

“It’s got a lot of gravity in that area,” he said. “It’s great to be close to the high school, other (places to shop) and the movies. There’s a lot of food choices in that area and it’s growing.”

Super Chix first opened in Dallas in 2013 and now has stores throughout Texas, Alabama and Utah. New locations are have been planned for Bozeman, Mont., Fort Collins, Colo., and San Jose, Calif. Hawes said he plans to open stores in Logan, Utah, Pocatello and Rexburg.

The Hillcrest Plaza will also be home to Duck Donuts and Jersey Mike's Subs, both due to open soon.

Super Chix will be open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday with a 10 p.m. closing time Friday and Saturday. Visit the website or Facebook page for more information.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Fall River Electric offering scholarships to high school seniors

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 $70,000 in scholarship funds are available this year while throughout the history of this program, Fall River Electric has awarded over a half a million dollars in scholarships to deserving graduating high school seniors.

Fall River Electric scholarships are valued at $2,400 and are paid in increments of $600 annually. To apply, graduating seniors must have at least a 2.0 grade point average (GPA) and provide two short written essays stating why they are deserving of a scholarship. Applications are now being accepted from seniors enrolled in the Madison, Jefferson, Ririe, Sugar-Salem, Fremont, Teton, and West Yellowstone school districts.

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 “My Community” and open the “Scholarships” tab on the dropdown menu to download an application.

Applications must be postmarked by Friday, March 26, 2021 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 Angela Haws at 208-652-7002 or email her at angela.haws@fallriverelectric.com.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

INL leader named to Top 100 Women in Energy list

Dr. Marianne Walck
Dr. Marianne Walck, Idaho National Laboratory's deputy laboratory director for science and technology, has been named a Top 100 Women in Energy at the national Energy Inclusion Conference.

The award recognizes top women leaders who directly contribute to business growth and strategic direction within their organizations. Honorees must maintain a record of accomplishments in their areas of expertise, be effective role models who inspire others, demonstrate a deep commitment to corporate citizenship, and operate with the highest level of integrity and ethical behaviors.

Walck has nearly four decades of experience as a leader in the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratory complex, both at Sandia National Laboratories and INL. As a female executive, Walck has championed INL’s efforts to become a national employer of choice for women, people of color, people with disabilities, military veterans and the LGBTQ+ community. As co-chair of INL’s Executive Inclusion Council, she has helped embed visible diversity, inclusive thought leadership and employment equity across INL’s workforce, STEM outreach, university partnerships, marketplace, supply chain and charitable giving.

“This is a well-deserved honor for Dr. Walck. Her commitment to active, visible and transformational leadership continues to make an impact on America’s energy future; and her support and mentoring is developing the next generation of scientists to respond to our energy challenges,” said Ron Crone, INL associate laboratory director and co-executive sponsor of INL’s Women in Leadership Council.

In addition to leadership roles at SNL and INL, Walck chaired the National Laboratory Chief Research Officers Council, which steers the research operations for 17 Department of Energy national laboratories and, in 2020, she joined the executive committee of the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory, to shape America’s R&D response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For a full list of the Top 100 Women in Energy honorees, follow this link: The Energy Inclusion Conference Announces the Top Women in Energy

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Alaska Air to start nonstop flights to SEA-TAC in June

The 76-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprop

Idaho Falls Regional Airport announced today that Alaska Airlines will begin nonstop service between Idaho Falls and Seattle on June 17, making it the fourth destination added to the airport’s route map this year and a major milestone for the community.

The addition of the new, direct Seattle flight gives IDA travelers 12 nonstop destinations to choose from, as well as hundreds of one-stop connections. Alaska Airlines will become the fifth major airline to now operate out of IDA, the second busiest airport in the state.

“We are very pleased to welcome Alaska Airlines to our market and wish them every success,” said Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper. “Providing direct flights to Seattle opens up a whole new set of destinations for our passengers at very competitive rates.”

Seattle will be the first nonstop destination offered locally by Alaska Airlines, and will connect passengers to over 60 cities from its Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) hub. “With the only year-round nonstop flight to the West Coast, guests will benefit from shorter journeys, low fares and great service,” said Brett Catlin, Alaska’s vice president of network and alliances.

IDA Director Rick Cloutier said the agreement has come after many years of hard work on the part of the airport team to grow air service options for the region. "We are thrilled to welcome Alaska Airlines and are working hard to continue to provide additional flights and destinations to the people of Idaho Falls and throughout the region,” he said.

The daily, year-round flight will be operated with a Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft offering passengers a comfortable and reliable flight experience. With 76 seats arranged in a two-by-two configuration, customers will enjoy the spacious interior cabin during the easy flight. Tickets are now available for booking at www.alaskaair.com or by contacting a local travel agent.