Thursday, February 2, 2017

Idaho Falls schedules meetings for discussion of fiber network expansion

The City of Idaho Falls is planning four informational meetings in February to foster a community-wide discussion about the future of the Idaho Falls Fiber Network.

The city’s dark fiber network was established in 2002 to upgrade the city’s internal communications capabilities while keeping costs low. It was expanded over the next five years, and in 2007 access to the network was granted to commercial service providers.

The network has expanded nearly every year since, providing connectivity to businesses on the philosophy that competitive Internet service rates will keep facilitate economic development. Today, 27 of the 30 commercially available pairs of dark fiber are under lease. Eight commercial internet service providers (ISPs) lease access to the network to provide broadband internet of 1 gigabit and upwards to 383 local businesses. In addition, 12 local businesses lease fiber directly from the city to provide network access to 76 locations.

In 2015, Idaho Falls Power enlisted a consultant to explore options for expansion of the network, including options for fiber to homes in the city.

The consultants, Finley Engineering and CCG Consulting, examined the cost of building fiber throughout the city based on a variety of scenarios and a range of options for potential business models for network expansion. They evaluated the city as a stand-alone service provider, public-private partnerships between the city and a new or existing ISP, and for an open access network similar to the current configuration but expanded to service residences.

At each meeting, Idaho Falls Power staff will provide information on the history of the fiber network, the options for potential network expansion, and results of a recently conducted survey of local customers. Each meeting will feature an informal, open house format and will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the following locations:

Thursday, Feb. 9, Compass Academy, 955 Garfield Street

Monday, Feb. 13, Taylorview Junior High School, 350 Castlerock Lane

Tuesday, Feb. 21, Idaho Falls High School, 601 S. Holmes Avenue

Wednesday, Feb. 22, Skyline High School, 1767 Blue Sky Drive

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Startup Weekend Rexburg begins Thursday night

Startup Weekend Rexburg will begin Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at North Point, 141 W. First South, in the special events room on the third floor.

Startup Weekends are 54-hour events designed to provide experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. The events are centered on action, innovation, and education, beginning with Thursday night pitches and continuing through testing, business model development, and basic prototype creation. Finally, on Saturday night, participants conduct demos to a panel of potential investors and local entrepreneurs.

Participants are challenged with building functional startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks.

The facilitator will be Luke Bayard, president of Cal Poly Entrepreneurs. Two years ago, Bayard was a Cuesta College business student, looking to transfer to Cal Poly. He is now one of the leading student voices for Cal Poly entrepreneurship.

Luke grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. His father is a lawyer in private practice and his mother owns a floral shop. Seeing his parents’ example sparked a passion in him and made him want to be an entrepreneur, he said. During his high school years, he built a small business as an independent fitness trainer.

The organizing team for the event consists of Daniel Torres, Scott Johnson and Will Jenson. More information, including registration, can be found at http://www.up.co/communities/usa/rexburg/startup-weekend.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Idaho Falls seeks public comment for downtown planning

A panoramic view of downtown Idaho Falls taken when parking was not as much on everyone's minds. 
The City of Idaho Falls has plans for a guide for development and redevelopment of the downtown area, and is asking members of the community for their thoughts.

The guide will address such topics as streetscape design, housing, parking and more. By engaging the public, the city hopes to coordinate vision and guiding principles, discuss financing strategies, identify possibly catalytic projects and avoid mistakes.

The city’s web page, ifdowntown.com, admits this is not the first attempt at coming up with a coherent, unified plan for downtown. “In recent years there have been many studies and plans for downtown,” it says. “However, these plans have lacked the effort and clear responsibility necessary for implementation. As the City continues to implement economic development programs to attract new businesses, shoppers, sporting events, art, entertainment, and recreation, a cohesive plan is necessary to achieve the full potential of downtown Idaho Falls.”

To get things started, there will be an open house on Tuesday (Jan. 31) from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Idaho Falls Library, 457 W. Broadway. For those unable to attend the meeting, comments can be made online at http://www.ifdowntown.com/participate--comment.html or by calling the Idaho Falls Planning Division at (208) 612-8187.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Idaho Falls Black Bear Diner ribbon cutting set for Jan. 30

Black Bear Diner's menus "The Black Bear Gazette," have an old newspaper theme.
We'll keep you posted on the actual opening date and time, but we can report the Greater Idaho Falls has a ribbon cutting scheduled for Black Bear Diner, 1610 E. 17th St., on Jan. 30 at 11:30 a.m.

Located in the Hall Park Shopping Center, this is another project of Venture One Properties'. It has been in the works since August, when the Idaho Falls Building Department issued at commercial remodel permit.

The general contractor on the 458,104 square-foot project has been Bateman Hall. The space had been vacant since Rusio’s closed in 2015, but Venture One's Shane Murphy announced in May he had lined up Black Bear, a company based in Redding, Calif., which was already active in Idaho, in Boise, Twin Falls and Chubbuck.

The chain dates back to 1994 in Mount Shasta, Calif., when it was founded by Bob and Laurie Manley with help from Bruce Dean.  The franchise has grown to more than 76 locations in eight western states, including two in Idaho, in Boise and Chubbuck. Black Bear Diner was recognized in 2015 by Franchise Times as one of the smartest growing brands.

Black Bear features a rustic motif with "over-the-top bear paraphernalia". Every restaurant is decorated with a 12-foot-tall black bear carving by artist Ray Schulz. Additional murals and artwork are created for each restaurant by Steve and Gary Fitzgerald and Colleen Mitchell-Veyna.

The menu format mimics an old newspaper titled, “The Black Bear Gazette,” with articles on the front page. It offers family meals such as breakfast, burgers, salads, and shakes. Pies, bread and cobblers are prepared on site.

For a full menu and additional information, visit blackbeardiner.com.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Partnership for Science & Technology seeks award nominees for 2017

The Partnership for Science & Technology, an organization based in Idaho Falls, is taking nominations for its annual awards.

Nominees will be evaluated based on how closely their contributions align with PST’s mission, to independently examine and promote responsible energy technologies and environmental stewardship to benefit Idaho and the region. They may be an individual, agency or organization. Submissions should include the nominee’s name, affiliation, city of work or residence, nominator’s name and nominator’s contact information. In 100 to 500 words, explain the nominee’s contribution and how it meets the general and specific nomination criteria.

Specific criteria for each nomination category are as follows:

Science and Technology Educator Award
The Science and Technology Educator Award acknowledges outstanding efforts to educate and empower our future leaders and community members.

Science and Technology Innovator Award
The Science and Technology Innovator Award recognizes future leadership potential by celebrating an early-career contribution to energy, science or technology.

Regional Energy Advocate Award
The Regional Energy Advocate Award acknowledges an outstanding contribution to the region’s energy options or public energy discourse.

National Energy Advocate Award
The PST Board of Directors will select a National Energy Advocate Award winner to celebrate an outstanding national contribution that is consistent with PST’s mission to advocate for responsible advancement of energy, technology and/or environmental stewardship.

Recent awardees include Idaho National Laboratory’s Dr. Catherine Riddle, University of Idaho’s Dr. Robert Smith, INL’s Dr. Shannon Bragg-Sitton, Center for Advanced Energy Studies’ Dr. Ray Grosshans, NuScale Power’s Dr. Jose Reyes, former Idaho Falls Mayor Jared Fuhriman, nuclear energy startup TerraPower, LLC, and Western Governors’ Association Executive Director James Ogsbury.

Nominations should be submitted by March 15 to info@p-s-t.org. For more information, visit http://www.p-s-t.org.