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.