Thursday, January 8, 2015

Janis Joplin book author John Byrne Cooke to speak Saturday at Barnes & Noble in Grand Teton Mall

Author John Byrne Cooke will be at the Idaho Falls Barnes & Noble store Saturday, Jan. 10 at 1 p.m. to talk about and sign copies of his book “On the Road With Janis Joplin.”

John Byrne Cooke
Cooke, who lives in Jackson, Wyo., was the rock legend’s road manager from 1967 to 1970. His picture of Joplin is of a hugely talented singer who was much more than the onstage dynamo and hard-drinking woman of public perception. As Cooke reveals, she was also funny and highly intelligent, a fully-rounded, three-dimensional person who was very much on a personal and professional upswing when an accidental overdose of heroin caused her premature death in October 1970.

A graduate of Harvard and a musician himself, Cooke’s first encounter with Joplin came in 1967 at the Monterey International Pop Festival, where he was on the crew of documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker. Joplin and her band, Big Brother and the Holding Co., were not widely known outside of San Francisco, but her performance electrified the audience and, once the film was released, the rest of the world.

Cooke became Joplin’s road manager after Big Brother signed with Albert Grossman, also manager of Bob Dylan, The Band and Peter, Paul and Mary. Cooke continued with Joplin after she left Big Brother and was with her for her only European tour, her 1969 performance at Woodstock, with the Kozmic Blues Band, and the famed Festival Express train tour across Canada in the summer of 1970 with her last band, Full Tilt Boogie.

During his Barnes & Noble visit, Cooke will talk about Joplin, read from his book, and show a film that he shot on the road while touring with Janis and Big Brother. Copies of Cooke's book will be available and Cooke will sign them after his talk.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Some basic math on the Affordable Care Act

How were you at math word problems in school? This one ought to be easy enough.

A school district has 1,000 full-time employees and spends $4,800 a year on each of them for group health insurance. If the school district doesn’t pay for this insurance, it faces an annual fine of $3,000 per employee. How much can the school district save each year by dropping its group health insurance?
Brian McKellar
The answer is $1,800 per employee. Multiply that by 1,000 and you have $1.8 million in savings.

Idaho School districts are some of the largest employers in the state, yet Idaho pays schoolteachers some of the lowest salaries in the nation, starting at $31,248.00 and capping at $57,782 after 25 years of service. Although it’s exciting that there is a plan to raise teachers’ base salary to $40,000 over the next five years, according to a study done in 2013 a family of four in Bonneville Country requires $54,939 to “get by.”

Unless both parents work, Idaho teachers still have to struggle to make ends meet. In fact, I personally don’t know any teacher whose spouse also doesn’t work.

Wouldn’t it be great if somehow we could put some extra cash in their wallets?

The Affordable Care Act stipulates that any company with more than 100 employees is required to offer health insurance. If it doesn’t, it faces a maximum penalty of $3,000 per employee. But based on the clients who have approached us, school districts are paying much more than that simply to cover their employees. Incredible as it sounds, by dropping group health coverage, even with the $3,000 maximum penalty figured in, some school districts could easily save more than a million dollars and give every teacher a raise.

This doesn’t even address coverage for families. Many school districts contribute $0 towards family health insurance, and some teachers are paying more than $600 a month on their school group plans.

The ACA has made it easier than ever for people to qualify for inexpensive health coverage. A family of four in Bonneville County earning $54,939 (the “get by” number from above) would qualify for a $380 monthly tax credit, making the price of the second lowest silver-level exchange plan $336.82 a month.

Do the math. Show your work. Class dismissed.

Brian McKellar is an independent agent with McKellar Insurance and a member of the Square One business development group.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Freddy's Frozen Custard plans to open Wednesday

The scene Monday morning at Freddy's, as training enters the home stretch.
The Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburger at 355 North Woodruff Avenue in Idaho Falls is looking at opening Wednesday morning at 10:30. Training has been taking place this past week in preparation, and anyone interested in going to work there can apply online at www.freddysusa.com.

Juicy burgers and fries!
The store’s hours will be 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Founded in Wichita, Kan., in 2002, Freddy’s began franchising two years later and has since been recognized by Technomic — an online food industry research and consulting firm — as the seventh fastest growing burger chain in the U.S. with sales of less than $200 million. Between 2012 and 2013, the company saw a $42.7 million jump in sales, an increase of 41.8 percent.

While frozen custard is featured in the restaurant’s name, at the heart of the operation is its 1950s-style burgers. Last year, the company's burgers ranked ninth in a survey conducted by Consumer Reports of the Best and Worst Fast-Food Restaurants in America.

“The savory steakburger is inspired by the ’50s style staple and reminiscent of an era focused on quality, cooked-to-order meals that bring families and loved ones together,” the company's Web site says.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Dunkin' Donuts in 2015? Chain plans major expansion

Screenshot from the Dunkin' Donuts Web site
I've been told by a source I trust that it's only a matter of time before Dunkin' Donuts comes to the Idaho Falls area, but it's been a waiting game.

The Quincy, Mass.-based chain has 10 stores open in the Salt Lake City-Ogden area, but none in Idaho so far. Conventional wisdom would lead one to think that Boise is where the first one will go, but who knows?

The reason I am writing about this is this article that ran Tuesday in Business Insider: Dunkin' Donuts is Expanding Like Crazy. Rest assured that I have my sources and will be keeping on top of this one.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Day 1965: '12 hours of color' on KIFI

NBC Sportscaster Jim Simpson
Some of you are probably aware that I write the Looking Back column that runs every Thursday in the Post Register. Examining the papers from late 1964, I was intrigued by an ad posted by KIFI. What different times we lived in! All the bowl games were played on the same day, and none of them had corporate sponsorships. Color TV was still a novelty. In fact, I'd be curious to know if there's any way of finding out how many homes in Idaho Falls actually had color TVs.

Anyway, here is what ran in today's column:

50 years ago
KIFI Channel 8 was advertising "12 Hours of Color" on New Year's Day 1965. The fun on the NBC affiliate was to start at 9 a.m. in Miami with the Orange Bowl parade, hosted by Dennis Weaver. At 9:30 a.m. came the 76th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade, hosted by Lorne Greene and Betty White. At 11:45 a.m. came the conclusion of the Sugar Bowl (Syracuse vs. Louisiana State), followed at 2:45 p.m by the conclusion of the Rose Bowl (Michigan vs. Oregon State), then at 5:45 p.m. the conclusion of the Orange Bowl (Alabama vs. Texas), then a sports roundup at 8:30 p.m. featuring host Jim Simpson.