Otter forms LINE 3.0

Otter forms LINE 3.0

Otter forms LINE 3.0

Horman

Peters

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed an executive order Monday creating the latest iteration of the Leadership in Nuclear Energy Commission, branded LINE 3.0.

The commission will be staffed by many familiar faces, though a number of changes have been made. One of those changes led a local representative who wasn’t reappointed to the commission to cry foul.

In a statement, Otter said the purpose of the new commission remains largely the same.

“We got a lot of value out of LINE 2.0 – a lot that figures to help us sustain and enhance the Idaho National Lab’s mission and its potential as an economic driver for Idaho for many years to come,” Otter said. “I don’t want to lose that kind of momentum. LINE 3.0 will help ensure that we don’t.”

The LINE Commission isn’t a regulatory body, having only advisory authority, but it serves as an important forum for top-level discussions involving nuclear energy, INL and state government.

Former lab director John Grossenbacher will remain on the committee, but current director Mark Peters will replace him as co-chairman. Lt. Gov. Brad Little will continue to serve as the other co-chairman.

Otter also tapped Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, to serve as the House’s representative to the commission. Horman said she has worked with INL officials for 20 years, beginning with her time on local school boards.

“I am humbled by this appointment by the governor and this opportunity to serve,” Horman said. “Over the last two decades, my commitment to the men and women of INL has never wavered.”

Horman, known as an education expert, said she hopes to put particular focus on education and training to address workforce needs at the lab.

“A lot of the most significant issues facing the lab in coming decades are related to workforce and that’s an area of expertise for me,” she said.

Horman was named to the House Environment, Energy and Technology Committee in 2017. Horman was also instrumental earlier this year in negotiating a deal that allowed INL to use state financing to build two facilities, one focused on cybersecurity, the other on supercomputing.

The $90 million in local investment isn’t expected to cost state taxpayers anything, since the terms of INL’s lease will ensure that it pays off the bond. INL officials said the project will expand the lab’s cybersecurity mission and provide educational and research opportunities in partnership with the state’s universities.

Horman replaces Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Idaho Falls, who has served on the last two versions of the LINE commission. Thompson reacted angrily to the news Tuesday, attacking Horman and the new commission.

“LINE 2.0 was a valuable entity, but by putting a legislator on there without any energy experience, it diminishes the validity of the entire commission,” Thompson said.

Thompson served as the chairman of the of the House Environment, Energy and Technology Committee for two years, though last year he was replaced by Rep. Dell Raybould, R-Rexburg, and made the vice-chairman. He noted that he also serves on energy committees with the National Conference of State Legislatures and recently toured a nuclear facility in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Otter didn’t discuss Thompson’s ouster in a statement, but Thompson was one of 30 lawmakers who sued Otter earlier this year over his veto of the grocery tax repeal.

On the Senate side, Sen. Mark Nye, D-Pocatello, will also serve on the commission, as will Butte County Commissioner Rose Bernal.

House Speaker Scott Bedke will continue with the commission. He was previously a non-voting ad hoc member of the commission, but in LINE 3.0 he will have voting rights.

“I look forward to serving on the commission and to do everything we can to make sure INL’s mission is meaningful and a growing concern in the eastern part of the state,” Bedke said.

Other appointees include Mayor Rebecca Casper, Center for Advanced Energy Studies director Noël Bakhtian, University of Idaho vice president Janet Nelson, Boise State University vice president Mark Rudin, Idaho State University vice president Cornelis Van der Schyf, U.S. Ecology CEO Jeff Feeler, International Isotopes CEO Steve Laflin, Department of Commerce director Megan Ronk, Department of Environmental Quality director John Tippets and Sam Eaton, Otter’s legal council.

The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes will be represented by either Marcus Coby or Talia Martin, and either Attorney General Lawrence Wasden or a designated representative of his office will also serve on the commission.

The new commission is formed at a time when there have been mounting calls to revisit the specifics of the 1995 Settlement Agreement. Because the Department of Energy has been unable to meet certain cleanup milestones, INL has been blocked from importing small quantities of spent nuclear fuel for research purposes. Lab officials have said the ongoing blockage endangers some of the lab’s key missions.

LINE 3.0 will have its first meeting Oct. 4 in Twin Falls.

FBI to add 350 new jobs in Pocatello

FBI to add 350 new jobs in Pocatello

FBI to add 350 new jobs in Pocatello

FBI Building
A new data center that is currently under construction at the FBI building in Pocatello is expected to bring 350 new jobs to the Gate City.

Scott Kraus/Idaho State Journal

The data center under construction at the FBI site in Pocatello will ultimately require adding about 350 employees when it’s finished, said Michael Malinowski, section chief of the IT Infrastructure Division in Pocatello.

That’s an increase in employees from the current number of around 200 and will include new hires and transfers he said during a press event on Wednesday. Construction on the data center started in August. It should be done in early 2019, he said.

Malinowski said the pay range for employees in the data center will be competitive.

“We are extremely competitive for most positions,” he said.

Meanwhile, in addition to the increase in employees, the project will bolster contractors.

“There are a lot of local contractors that are going to be involved in this building,” he said.

The project overall will have an impact of tens of millions of dollars on the local economy, according to John Regetz, executive director of the Bannock County Development Corporation. In April 2016 it was initially thought the project might bring in about 300 workers.

“That’s good news that they’re increasing their level of commitment,” Regetz said. “It just means more good jobs in our community. These are going to be good-paying jobs.”

He said having those extra jobs and added income here will help the retail sector and businesses in and around the Pine Ridge Mall. It would also likely bolster the housing market.

“If our developers and contractors don’t respond quickly enough there will be a tight supply,” he said.

Regetz also said it might also create an opportunity for training partnerships with Idaho State University.

“It could really expand our high-tech talent base,” he said.

Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad says he happy to see the project advance.

“We’ve always talked to them about 300 to 400 jobs for this data center so it’s great news,” he said.

He said the jobs will offer living wages and those are the kinds of jobs the city has been hoping to help bring to the community.

“It’s going to be a great economic boost for our community and we are very excited to have them expand their operation here,” Blad said.

City officials: Public-private partnership creates economic opportunities for East Idaho

City officials: Public-private partnership creates economic opportunities for East Idaho

City officials: Public-private partnership creates economic opportunities for East Idaho

Public-private partnership creates economic opportunities for East Idaho

Government and business leaders at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Northgate Project on Thursday.

City of Pocatello press release

One of the largest public-private partnerships in Idaho is moving forward after government and business leaders broke ground on the Northgate Project in East Idaho.

This project represents an unprecedented partnership between six public and private entities that will increase mobility and economic opportunity along the Interstate 15 corridor.

“This project presents a fantastic opportunity for not only Pocatello and Chubbuck but also all of East Idaho to grow and thrive into the future,” said Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad.

In June, those partners signed an agreement that would build a new interchange on I-15 and new local roads to connect to the interstate.

The new infrastructure would open the north end of Pocatello and east Chubbuck to new development by way of a master planned community called Northgate. Once fully built, the project is expected to bring a new 1 million square foot IT park, retail businesses, and 10,000 new homes.

“This project kicks off a visionary transformation in the Portneuf Valley that will echo for generations,” said project developer Buck Swaney.

Crews will begin some site work this fall with the majority of the construction expected to begin in spring 2018.

Eastern Idaho State Fair has record-breaking year

Eastern Idaho State Fair has record-breaking year

Eastern Idaho State Fair has record-breaking year

Fair-goers take to the rides at the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot on Sept. 5. The nine-day event saw more than 239,103 fair-goers, a new overall attendance record. John Roark / jroark@postregister.com

The Eastern Idaho State Fair added an extra day this year and was rewarded with record-setting attendance.

This year’s fair opened for the first time on a Friday, a day earlier than usual, and saw more than 239,103 fair-goers during the nine-day event, a fair news release said. The attendance record breaks the old mark, set in 2016, of 231,023. In addition to the overall attendance record, some of the individual days broke attendance records as well, the release said.

“Combine the beautiful weather we had all week with the dedication of thousands of people, the most amazing grandstand shows ever and 2017 was an incredibly successful year,” Fair Manager Brandon Bird said in the release. “… We are so grateful to be able to continue this 115-year tradition in this community.”

Plans already are starting to form for next year’s fair, which will run Aug. 31 to Sept. 8, 2018.

REDI ANNOUNCES HIRING OF DANA KIRKHAM AS STAR DIRECTOR

REDI ANNOUNCES HIRING OF DANA KIRKHAM AS STAR DIRECTOR

REDI ANNOUNCES HIRING OF DANA KIRKHAM AS STAR DIRECTOR

 

IDAHO FALLS, ID – September 5, 2017 – REDI announced today that Dana Kirkham, current Mayor of Ammon, has been hired as the region’s Science Technology and Research (STAR) Director.  She will begin part-time with REDI on September 11 moving to full time when her mayoral duties end in December.

“We are excited to have Dana Kirkham join our staff in this important position dedicated on our region’s science, technology and research (STAR) sector,” said REDI CEO Jan Rogers.  “With her background in working at the federal government, CIA and State Department, and her strong legislative experience, Dana will bring impressive skills to support STAR efforts throughout the region,” she said.

Kirkham will be the point of contact on this growing and vital industry cluster, serving as the primary spokesperson for topics and actions tied to STAR industry representatives.

“I look forward to supporting Eastern Idaho’s vast STAR industries while focusing specifically on federal programs across the region.  Managing and expanding these key sectors will benefit the whole region by creating more STAR related opportunities,” Dana Kirkham stated.

Eastern Idaho is anchored with the largest concentration of higher education opportunities in Idaho, a Department of Energy national laboratory, three additional major science and research labs, and advanced manufacturing. Hiring Kirkham as STAR Director is vital to moving this industry cluster forward and is strongly supported by Idaho National Laboratory, Fluor Idaho and numerous industry partners.

 

REDI announces Ammon Mayor as New STAR Director

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) – REDI announced Tuesday current Ammon Mayor Dana Kirkham has been hired as the region’s Science Technology and Research (STAR) Director.

Kirkham will begin part-time with REDI on September 11 moving to full-time when her mayoral duties end in December.

“We are excited to have Dana Kirkham join our staff in this important position dedicated on our region’s science, technology and research (STAR) sector,” said REDI CEO Jan Rogers.  “With her background in working at the federal government, CIA and State Department, and her strong legislative experience, Dana will bring impressive skills to support STAR efforts throughout the region.”

Kirkham will be the point of contact on this growing and vital industry cluster, serving as the primary spokesperson for topics and actions tied to STAR industry representatives.

“I look forward to supporting Eastern Idaho’s vast STAR industries while focusing specifically on federal programs across the region,” Kirkham said. “Managing and expanding these key sectors will benefit the whole region by creating more STAR related opportunities.”

Dana Kirkham, Mayor of Ammon, Hired at REDI

Dana Kirkham, Mayor of Ammon, Hired at REDI

Dana Kirkham, mayor of Ammon, hired at REDI

dana-kirkham-croppedDana Kirkham, the mayor of Ammon, has been hired as science and technology director at REDI, Regional Economic Development Eastern Idaho.

Kirkham will start out part-time Sept. 11 as science, technology and research director, and will move to a full-time position when her mayoral duties end in December, said REDI executive director Jan Rogers.

Kirkham has worked with the federal government, the CIA, and the State Department, Rogers said.  She’ll serve as the primary spokesperson for topics and actions tied to representatives of the science, technology, and research industries.

REDI hires outgoing Ammon Mayor Kirkham

REDI hires outgoing Ammon Mayor Kirkham

Kirkham

Ammon Mayor Dana Kirkham was hired for a new position with Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho.

Starting Monday, Kirkham will be REDI’s part-time science, technology and research (STAR) director. Kirkham will work full time for REDI after her mayoral term ends in December; she isn’t seeking re-election.

“This looks like a good challenge and a nice opportunity to expand my ambassador role beyond the city of Ammon to eastern Idaho,” Kirkham said. “We have a lot to offer and I’d like the opportunity to try to sell us a bit.”

Kirkham will be the point of contact regarding eastern Idaho’s science and research communities, which include Idaho National Laboratory, several universities and a handful of advanced manufacturing companies.

In her new role, Kirkham will focus on leveraging local federal resources.

“There’s opportunities through (INL contractor) Fluor, INL, the FBI in Pocatello and other federal programs that maybe the community at large needs to have a better understanding of, and their value in economic development, opportunity and education,” she said. “And hopefully that’s what I’ll bring to this position.”

Kirkham has professional experience with several federal agencies.

“With her background in working at the federal government, CIA and State Department, and her strong legislative experience, Dana will bring impressive skills to support STAR efforts throughout the region,” REDI CEO Jan Rogers said in a news release.

Risch Honors Fin Fun

Risch Honors Fin Fun

John Roark / jroark@postregister.com Jerry Browning, Karen Browning, Sen. Jim Risch and Steve Browning pose for a photo after Risch presented the family with a copy of the Congressional Record that noted the importance of small businesses such as Fin Fun in Idaho Falls on Aug. 29. John Roark / jroark@postregister.com

John Roark / jroark@postregister.com Sen. Jim Risch speaks to Fin Fun employees about the importance of small businesses such as Fin Fun in Idaho Falls on Aug. 29. John Roark / jroark@postregister.com

John Roark / jroark@postregister.com Sen. Jim Risch, left, is shown a mermaid tail by Steve Browning, owner of Fin Fun, during an Aug. 29 tour of the facility. John Roark / jroark@postregister.com

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, tours the Fin Fun facility in Idaho Falls on Aug. 29. John Roark / jroark@postregister.com

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, tours the Fin Fun facility in Idaho Falls on Aug. 29. Fin Fun manufacturers mermaid suits for swimmers. John Roark / jroark@postregister.com

Sen. Jim Risch honored Idaho Falls small business Fin Fun Mermaid on Aug. 29, presenting the company with a piece of the congressional record, the official record of the proceedings of the U.S. House and Senate.

The company produces mermaid swimsuits and fin tails, among other products.

Fin Fun has experienced astounding growth — 3,000 percent over three years, according to the Idaho Department of Commerce. The U.S. Small Business Administration named CEO Eric Browning and CFO Steve Browning the state’s “Small Business Persons of the Year” in April.

The following month, Risch named Fin Fun the small business of the month, and last week, Risch presented the business with a piece of the congressional record commemorating the achievement.

“The American dream is alive and well today,” Risch said, reading from a speech he had given on the Senate floor. “… Idaho’s small businesses, and the entrepreneurs behind them, share a dedication to producing the highest quality products and services.”

Risch toured Fin Fun’s Idaho Falls headquarters, meeting employees and learning about the company’s production, marketing and export processes.

“You export to 170 countries. Add 30 more, and you’ll export to the whole world,” Risch said in a speech at the company’s Idaho Falls headquarters.

The company started simply. Karen Browning, Eric and Steve’s mother, got a request from her granddaughter Emily to make her a mermaid outfit. Karen made one, and soon other kids were asking. She and her husband Jerry founded the business. They ran it until 2012, when Steve and Eric assumed day-to day operations.

“It’s almost surreal,” Karen said.

“It really was a home business,” Karen laughed.

The company still seeks to manufacture and purchase within the U.S. Many of the mermaid suits are manufactured under a contract with Dawn Enterprises in Blackfoot, which provides employment to individuals with mental and physical disabilities. But, Karen said, as the company has grown explosively they have had to purchase some items overseas because the American textile industry is so small.

Risch said it was innovation like that shown by the Browning family that “makes this economy great.”

“People don’t understand how important small business is to America,” Risch said.