Thursday, May 14, 2020

Diabla's Kitchen plans move to old Westbank property

Renovation work inside the old Westbank Restaurant.
Diabla's Kitchen, an A Street mainstay for several years, is moving into much roomier digs, as owner Deana Bowles Brower and company are renovating the old Westbank Restaurant property on River Parkway. In a recent Facebook post, Brower said they are eyeing an opening in June, possibly Father's Day weekend. In the meantime, they are carrying on with takeout food from their location at 368 A Street. A seafood fest is also planned for Saturday and Sunday, although seating will be very limited due to community coronavirus concerns. Details can be found here.

As for the new location, this is a welcome development for a property that has been vacant since August 2014. That was when owner Dane Watkins closed it in a dispute with Om Shiv Ganesh, the financially troubled company that was running the nearby tower. Watkins had been leasing the restaurant and convention center to Om Shiv Ganesh, but when the hotel's owner, Idaho Hotel Holdings, filed a default judgment for more than $3.4 million and the tower went into receivership he decided he would shut the restaurant down and look for a new buyer or operator.

The tower was sold at auction in January 2015 for a reported $2.3 million. Various attempts have been made to reopen the restaurant, lounge and convention center.

The Westbank itself dates back to 1928, when Ferris Clark, son of Mayor Barzilla W. Clark, built two log buildings by the Snake River to accommodate motorists on their way to Yellowstone National Park. Over 52 years, Clark expanded with a red brick motel, then a restaurant and lounge, then more motel rooms. He retired in 1980 and died in 1987 at age 79.

After Clark left, the property went by different names, including Red Lion and finally the Hotel on the Falls. It was owned by Jim and Sharon Bennett and Robert and Sharon Paulus, the children of Olga Gustafson Rigby, who had taken over after Clark’s death. In 2012, however, the hotel was deeded to trusts set up by the families while Watkins bought the motel, restaurant, lounge and convention center.
An old postcard from the '60s, when the restaurant and lounge were added.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

EIRMC names assistant chief nursing officer

Jami Lieber
Jami Lieber has been named assistant chief nursing officer at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. In this role, Lieber will work with the chief nursing officer to oversee clinical nursing operations throughout the hospital, ensure quality patient care and lead efforts to increase patient satisfaction. Lieber recently served as administrative director of medical surgical services, as well as administrative director of cardiovascular and imaging services, at Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas. Prior to her tenure at Southern Hills, Lieber oversaw cardiovascular services at St. Rose Dominican Hospitals for 14 years. Lieber holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from University of Nevada Las Vegas and a master’s degree in business administration from Roseman University.

Monday, May 11, 2020

From TV to online | Nate Eaton, East Idaho News

Nate Eaton
Renae Oswald

In 2006, Nate Eaton started his television career at KIDK and was there for three years, until he moved to Richmond, Va., to work for the ABC station there. After working for the Richmond station for about four years he received a call from Frank Vandersloot, owner of Melaleuca, with an idea to do an online news agency.

“The answer was no," he said. "I'd just gotten married, we'd just bought a house and I'd just signed a new contract with my TV station. Looking at it then, it was kind of career suicide. Once you leave TV it's hard to get back in.”

Two years went by, however, and he had kept the offer it in the back of his mind when he got another call from Vandersloot. After meeting with him and deciding a move back to Idaho would give him more of what his life needed, the answer was yes.

The only direction that Eaton was given when starting East Idaho News was to build a good product. He was given the creative freedom to construct his vision of an online agency, and in five years' time it has grown to what it is today.

Initially, Eaton didn't think it would work. “I figured, I could go and do this because I was ready for a change anyway. ... I'll go and do this for two or three years and if it completely bombs I'll go and do something else. We'll move back to the East Coast and maybe I'll get back in TV," he said. "It has succeeded a bazillion times better than I thought it would.”

East Idaho News covers a wide range of stories from public interest to investigative reporting. Much of what they report on comes from the public. “We want to interact with our audience," Eaton said. "Our audience is very interactive, and we like that for the most part."

When asked about negative feedback, he said that in the beginning it was hard to take and he had to work to not take it personally. “The instant reaction is to become defensive," he said. Today, he's got a more measured attitude. "For the people who are angry with me, I'd love to sit down and have lunch with them. I want to understand your perspective,” he said. “Generally though, within two to three days I've forgotten about it. The news cycle is so short.”

East Idaho News has been a conduit for giving to the community. One of the most well known avenues is Secret Santa during Christmastime. “It was our first year, and I got a call from a local couple who said they wanted to give away $100,000,” he said. The couple's challenge was that they didn't know how to find people in true need, so they asked for Eaton's help. That gave him the idea to bring a camera along to record the giving and spread the good feeling of being generous.

“We were out until Christmas Eve that year giving this money away and posting videos.” This was noticed by a national television show that shared some of these stories. It has continued to grow year over year, and this past year East Idaho News was able to give away $500,000 to needy families across eastern Idaho. Last year there were 4,000 applications. Throughout the year Nate receives emails from people all over the world who have been watching these videos on YouTube and have been inspired.

Having covered news since 2006, Eaton said his most challenging stories have been those who have involved children. “A lot of times, after the fact, some of my best relationships are those that I've covered in those horrible situations,” he said. He related that the stories where he has been able to help make a difference are some of his favorites.

Working with Dateline NBC on the Lori Vallow story has been a great experience, one on which they have been able to share resources. “We are independent at East Idaho News," Eaton said.
"Anybody anywhere can have our stories, just give us credit. On this particular story we are working more with Dateline just because they have helped us so much.” Despite the national attention, Eaton said he loves east Idaho and doesn't have plans to go to a bigger market at this time.

Eaton admits that he has feelings of doubt from time to time, but the stories keep him going. He's carried by the people he gets to talk to and share their lives. “There's a lot of insecurities that I have and sometimes I need to just push through it."

The month of March was the largest East Idaho News has ever had, and there's no sign it will slow down. Eaton would like to expand to other parts of the state and perhaps do some national expansion to small towns eventually. He's hoping that he's setting a precedent that can be replicated.


To learn more about East Idaho News, visit their website at https://www.eastidahonews.com/. Check them out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EastIdahoNews/. Find them on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd7U6pdRYzU-K_vFqwzLBqQ.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

CISA, INL launch routing tool for truckers, drivers

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL) launched a new Commercial Routing Assistance (CRA) tool today for truckers and other commercial drivers in the U.S. This free app incorporates coordinated data streams and plots multiple routing options so commercial operators can plan and manage vehicle movements across multiple states quickly in times of disasters or other restrictions.

“The nation’s critical infrastructure and essential services rely on the ability to move goods along our transportation systems and disruptions can cause supply chain issues and ripple effects across the country. This app will help the trucking industry operate effectively and efficiently and prepare for emergency situations in order to ensure the delivery of goods and resources to government, industry and the American public,” said Bob Kolasky who leads CISA’s National Risk Management Center.

This app, which CISA funded and INL developed in partnership with industry and government operational professionals, leverages coordinated data streams provided by the All Hazards Consortium (AHC) Sensitive Information Sharing Environment (SISE) to visualize and streamline commercial vehicle movement across multiple states by aggregating documents, information, and data relevant to the logistics industry in times of restricted operations.

"Our capabilities are highly relevant to the missions of CISA and the Department of Homeland Security," said Marianne Walck, INL's deputy laboratory director for science and technology. "This technology is just one of the many products America's national laboratories are developing during this time of need, and I couldn't be more proud of their work.”

For more information and access to the Commercial Routing Assistance (CRA) tool landing page, visit https://cra.inl.gov 

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)  https://www.cisa.gov/

Idaho National Laboratory (INL)  https://inl.gov/

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Eligibility criteria for Idaho Rebound grants announced

Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced Monday the full eligibility criteria and process for small businesses to apply for an Idaho Rebound cash grant.

Little announced last week that $300 million in cash grants will be made available to Idaho small businesses impacted by COVID-19. No other state in the country is putting up more money in direct cash support for small businesses. Cash grants of up to $10,000 will be directly deposited into the bank accounts for eligible businesses. More than 30,000 businesses could benefit.

The Governor’s Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee finalized the eligibility criteria and related details. Applications will be handled in two waves:
• Eligible entities with one to 19 employees may apply starting at noon May 11 through noon May 18.
• Eligible entities with one to 50 employees may apply starting at noon May 18 through noon May 22.

All applicants must first establish a secure Taxpayer Access Point (TAP) account if they do not already have one, in order to protect their personal and business information on submitted applications.

All eligibility criteria, information on how to apply along with instructions on how to gain a TAP account are available at https://rebound.idaho.gov/idaho-rebound-cash-grants-for-small-businesses/.

Recipients of the grants will be shared at Transparent.Idaho.Gov when information is available.