Special New Year’s Public Skate Times at the Ice Arena

Start 2016 right by bringing your family and friends out to the ice arena at Tautphaus Park on New Year’s! The arena will be open for a special public skate from 7-9 p.m. on Jan. 1.

Admission for kids and adults without skate rentals is $3.25. Admission for kids and adults with skate rentals is only $5.00.

The Joe Marmo/Wayne Lehto Ice Arena is southeast Idaho’s premier ice facility that offers high quality hockey and ice skating programs as well as non-skating recreation and entertainment events.

For additional information and skate times, visit our website.

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About Idaho Falls Parks & Recreation: The mission of the City of Idaho Falls Parks & Recreation Department is to provide quality parks and recreation opportunities based upon cost efficiency and community needs. Learn more on our website.

City New Year’s Resolution – Improvements in Customer Service Experience

Idaho Falls, ID – New Year’s resolutions are a time to reflect upon the past and, more importantly, look forward and plan for the next year. The City of Idaho Falls has some exciting plans for 2016. Many of these plans focus on improving the customer service experience city-wide, either by offering expanded services, streamlining processes or by launching new software applications – all with the end-user in mind.

BILLING & UTILITIES

The city is offering an extended hour for utility customers to pay their bills. Many residents work the same hours as city utility employees – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon.-Fri. – making the payment of utility bills difficult for some individuals. The utility office inside City Hall will now be open until 6 p.m. on Mondays. Residents can also pay their bill at the payment drop box located in the City Hall parking lot.

“The extended hour is in a trial phase until June, allowing us ample time to get the word out and test the response from the community. If it is determined that we need to make some adjustments in the extended hour, we will notify customers on their utility bill statements, as well as our website and social media pages,” explains Pamela Alexander, director of municipal services.

Since the onset of the holiday season, some very generous community members have made requests to make gift payments toward utility bills for neighbors or family members. Prior payment practices only allowed them to pay on the account holder’s behalf. This has now been changed as well. “Although a Good Samaritan will not have access to account information, they can simply provide us with the name and address of the account holder, and we’d be happy to help,” states Alexander.

The city recently contracted with a municipal and utility company, Cayenta, to provide much-needed upgrades in customer information, utility billing and financial management software. The new Cayenta software offers a robust work management system, user interface, ability for future community communication, increased functionality and extensive Geographic Information System (GIS) integration.

Thane Sparks, chief information & technology officer states, “The first phase of the Cayenta integration will allow for additional billing options including electronic billing. We are also evaluating a pre-payment option.”

Idaho Falls Power would also like to remind the community of the HELP Energy Assistance Program. Administered by Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership (EICAP), project HELP provides a one-time payment to help cover utility expenses for eligible customers through the winter, when utility bills tend to rise in eastern Idaho.

Residents can elect to donate to the program when paying their utility bills each month. Donations are tax-deductible, and all money received is forwarded to EICAP to fund the program. To donate, simply add any amount beyond the “amount due” on your billing statement. Eligibility is based on income limits and is available to individuals with a long-term or emergency medical condition.

“EICAP serves over 1000 City of Idaho Falls households through the Energy Assistance Program every winter, with over $415k in benefits to provide heat and keep seniors, children and families warm,” states Jenn Wilson, community services manager for EICAP. For additional information about the HELP program, contact EICAP at (208) 522-5391.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The city recently hired an Economic Development Coordinator, Dana Briggs, who is charged with marketing the city, strategic planning, community engagement, the development of local education initiatives and infrastructure planning.

Ms. Briggs also serves as the primary point of contact for contractors, developers and business owners thereby streamlining the building and development process. The goal is to offer “one-stop-shopping” for business needs. She will facilitate coordinating efforts with various city departments and state and local partners. Such efforts could include annexation of land, application of state and local development incentives, facilitating building and permitting, securing utilities, defining transportation concerns and helping to acquire workforce talent.

PERMITTING PROCESS

In mid-January, the Community Development Services Department will launch a new permitting and plan review system. The software, called TRAKiT, will allow anyone seeking building permits, site plan approvals, or any other planning or building related projects to submit all materials electronically. Review comments and status updates will be available online. Contractors will also be able to schedule inspections, see inspection results and review histories of all permits in the system via any device connected to the internet.

“The benefits of this system will be seen by all users,” said Brad Cramer, director of Community Development Services. “Contractors will be able to do business with us from their desks and mobile devices instead of taking time out of their day to come to our office.

Likewise, city inspectors will see an increase in efficiency as they will be able to conduct and result inspections while in the field instead of coming back to the office to enter data.”

In addition to the services provided to the development community, members of the public will be able to create a user account for the online portal and look up information on permits and projects that are of interest to them.

The new software will track much more information and data – such as the average time a project spends in the system – allowing staff to identify inefficiencies and make further improvements to provide more accurate and detailed reports.

SPECIAL EVENTS & VOLUNTEER COORDINATION

A special events & volunteer coordinator will be hired in the Parks & Recreation Department in the next couple of months. This position will also provide a “one-stop-shop” for organizing, developing and streamlining special events and volunteer activities.

“Special events and volunteer coordination is a big responsibility within our departments, the city and the community as a whole,” states Director Greg A. Weitzel. “Hiring someone to coordinate all of these efforts will greatly improve the customer service experience and efficiencies city-wide,” adds Weitzel.

“The city’s governance team has always been committed to providing excellent customer service. But software improvements and innovative thinking are sometimes what it takes to really deliver it well,” states Mayor Casper. “Our city employees are great at what they do for our citizens, but in the coming year we will continue to improve as we demonstrate our commitment to improving the Idaho Falls citizen experience,” adds Casper.

“Community collaboration and customer service is an integral part of our city’s success, and we are always looking for ways to improve upon those services. If community members have ideas or suggestions, we encourage them to reach out to us either by contacting city departments or the Mayor’s Office,” states Kerry McCullough, public information officer.

Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with city staff, contact Public Information Officer, Kerry McCullough.

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About Idaho Falls:  Situated along the Snake River at the western edge of the world famous Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls has all the features of big city living, but embraces a small town charm. Our skyline consists of the majestic Teton Mountain Range, and in our backyard is the world’s most famous national park – Yellowstone. As the regional center for healthcare, science & technology, shopping and entertainment, Idaho Falls is an attractive location for small and large businesses alike. Idaho Falls consistently finds itself listed in the top ten rankings of many prestigious magazines, newspapers and professional community research publications.  Learn more on our website.

Water Main Break on Lincoln Road – Traffic Impacted

Idaho Falls, ID – The Public Works Department will be repairing a broken water main on Lincoln Road just east of Northgate Mile tonight and tomorrow, Dec. 28-29. Traffic flows will be impacted.

At this point, it is believed that cold temperatures caused the breakage.

Crews will excavate the road tonight, followed by repair of the water main and patch work tomorrow.

During repairs, the eastbound thru traffic on Lincoln Road will be reduced to one lane and likely shifted to the center turn bay.

The goal is to have the repair work done tomorrow afternoon, before the evening commute. However, the schedule may need to be adjusted due to the cold temperatures and the nature of the water main break.

Please watch for equipment and workers and follow all traffic signs and flaggers.

Media Note: Updates will be posted on the city’s social media pages in the morning. For more information or to schedule an interview with city staff, contact Public Information Officer, Kerry McCullough.

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About Public Works:  The Public Works Department consists of six divisions. The Engineering Division provides Survey, Design and Project Management services to the rest of Public Works and other city divisions. The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Division coordinates Mapping and Informational Services with other city divisions.  The Sanitation Division provides solid waste collection and disposal. The Sewer Division provides sanitary sewage collection and treatment for the city and areas in Bonneville County; and storm water collection and treatment for the city.  The Street Division maintains the streets, bridges, alleys, and public parking lots. The Water Division provides and distributes potable water.

Christmas Tree Disposal Sites

Idaho Falls, ID – Once again, the city’s Sanitation Division will assist residents with post-holiday cleanup efforts by offering Christmas tree disposal services.

Due to the procedure for handling garbage at the Bonneville County Transfer Station, discarded Christmas trees cannot be placed in with regular garbage. However, 17 collection sites throughout the city have been designated for Christmas tree disposal.

Residents have until Jan. 30 to dispose of trees in the designated locations. These sites are for city resident’s use only and not to be used by tree lots for disposal of trees not sold.

All ornaments and lights must be removed prior to discarding the trees as the trees will be chipped and turned into mulch. The mulch will then be made available to residents next spring.

Tree Disposal Locations:

  1. Washburn & Michael (Reinhart Park)
  2. Grandview & Foote Drive
  3. Coachman & Broadway (behind car wash)
  4. Fremont Avenue (by recycling bin north of Science Center)
  5. Mound & W. Elva Street (Melaleuca Field parking lot)
  6. N. Water & Chestnut (NE corner)
  7. W. 13th & Placer
  8. 10th & Emerson
  9. 17th & Emerson
  10. S. Boulevard & Rogers Street
  11. Bennett & Waid
  12. Cleveland & Fanning (SW corner)
  13. Sunnyside Park (by Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center – SE corner.
  14. South of 1st Street (west side of Meppen)
  15. Sykes & Davidson
  16. Ashment & 12th Street
  17. Russet & Lincoln

A link to the list of disposal locations is on the home page of the city’s website. For additional information about Christmas tree disposal or mulching, contact the Sanitation Department at (208) 612-8491.

Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with city staff, contact Public Information Officer, Kerry McCullough.

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About Public Works:  The Public Works Department consists of six divisions. The Engineering Division provides Survey, Design and Project Management services to the rest of Public Works and other city divisions. The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Division coordinates Mapping and Informational Services with other city divisions.  The Sanitation Division provides solid waste collection and disposal. The Sewer Division provides sanitary sewage collection and treatment for the city and areas in Bonneville County; and storm water collection and treatment for the city.  The Street Division maintains the streets, bridges, alleys, and public parking lots. The Water Division provides and distributes potable water.

Dog Rescued from Water by Idaho Falls Fire Department

Idaho Falls, ID: On December 18, 2015, Battalion Chief, Ambulance 1, Engine 1 and Engine 4 responded to Gem Lake Marina for a report of a dog that had fallen through the ice and was struggling to get out.  The dog owner called in the report at 4:40 p.m. and directed the crews to her location at the marina.

Firefighter/Paramedic Dan Muhlestein donned his water rescue equipment. While tethered to the other emergency crews on the bank, he crawled approximately 20 yards on the ice to reach the dog.  While attempting to pull the dog out of the water, the ice gave way under the firefighter and both ended up in the water.

Muhlestein was able to lift the dog onto the ice and then pull himself back out as well.  The dog then made its way back to the shore to its awaiting owner.

There were no injuries.

Media Note: For additional information, contact Battalion Chief Lance Johnson at (208) 390-8782.

Photo: Firefighter/Paramedic Dan Muhlestein

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About Idaho Falls Fire Department:  The mission of the Idaho Falls Fire Department is to protect the lives and property of the citizens and visitors of Idaho Falls by providing the highest possible levels of service through fire prevention, public education, fire suppression, emergency medical services, and mitigation of the effects of natural and man-made disasters consistent with the resources provided as desired and dictated by the citizens and elected officials of the City of Idaho Falls. The department serves population of approximately 85,000 residents occupying approximately 250 square miles. The area includes the City of Idaho Falls and the Bonneville County Fire Protection District. The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) division serves a population of approximately 118,000 residents occupying approximately 1900 square miles. The area includes Bonneville County and portions of Bingham and Jefferson counties. The IFFD EMS responses for 2008 numbered just over 8,200.Learn more on our website.

Idaho Falls Power General Manager to Lead UAMPS; Council Member Mike Lehto is Honored at UAMPS Meeting

Idaho Falls, ID – Jackie Flowers, general manager of Idaho Falls Power, was elected chair of the board of directors of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) at the recent 2015 UAMPS Member Meeting in Salt Lake City. Flowers is the first woman to be elected chair of the UAMPS Board of Directors.

Mike Lehto, president of the Idaho Falls City Council, was honored as Champion of Public Power at the same meeting.

As the general manager of Idaho Falls Power, Flowers manages a staff of 68 employees and a $70 million budget. In addition to providing electric service, the utility owns and maintains four hydropower plants, maintains nearly 450 miles of transmission & distribution lines, and manages the city’s dark fiber optic network. She is a Registered Professional Engineer with a background in civil engineering and more than 20 years of experience, thirteen of which involving managing publicly-owned utilities.

Flowers, who has served on the UAMPS board for a number of years, most recently has chaired two key committees – the Horse Butte Wind Project Committee and the Carbon Free Power Project Committee. The Horse Butte project, located 16 miles east of Idaho Falls, consists of 32 wind turbines generating 57.6 megawatts of electricity. The Carbon Free Power Project committee is investigating the viability of developing a small modular nuclear reactor project, possibly located on land owned by the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls.

“This honor demonstrates the faith that her professional colleagues from UAMPS’ other 44 member utilities have in her judgement and leadership ability. The expanded board role comes at a time when UAMPS is poised to lead out with the Carbon Free Power Project. Among other things, this project is exploring the development of small modular reactor technology and could impact the electric power options for hundreds of thousands in eight western states,” explains Mayor Rebecca Casper. “I have full confidence in Director Flowers’ ability to add value to all of these discussions,” adds Casper.

The Champion of Public Power Award recognizes an appointed official of a member city or utility who has provided many years of exceptional service to municipal public power, demonstrating vision and unusual devotion in the performance of their duties.

Because Lehto was unable to attend the meeting, Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper accepted the award on his behalf. Lehto is completing his fourth 4-year term on the City Council and has served as liaison to the electric department for 15 years. He has been instrumental in leading Idaho Falls Power in establishing important new policies and has been a stalwart supporter and defender of public power.

During a period of electric industry upheaval, specifically the West Coast energy crisis, Lehto was instrumental in leading Idaho Falls Power in establishing and maintaining a strong Risk Management Policy and a healthy Rate Stabilization Fund.

He has been a very active advocate for public power, frequently attending national and regional events, including at least two UAMPS meetings per year.  He was nominated to the American Public Power Association’s Policy Maker Council in 2005, served as chair of the council and remained active with the council following the end of his year as chair.  He was awarded the Spencer Vanderlinden Public Official Award in 2011.

Completing the year as City Council President, Lehto has decided after 16 years not to seek re-election.  His leadership in public power will be missed.

Other UAMPS officers elected at the Member Meeting, included Jason Norlen, representing Heber Light & Power, as vice chair; Les Williams, representing Beaver City, as secretary; and Dwight Day, representing Oak City, as treasurer.

Presentations and speeches at the Member Meeting focused on UAMPS 2015 accomplishments, investigation of small modular nuclear energy technology, the challenges facing public power, and financing issues related to public power projects.

UAMPS is a joint action agency providing wholesale electricity and electric energy services to 45 public power utility members in eight western states. Established in 1980, UAMPS helps its members with planning, financing, development, acquisition, construction, operation and maintenance of various projects for the generation, supply, transmission and management of electric energy.

Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with city staff, contact Public Information Officer, Kerry McCullough. For information about UAMPS, contact LaVarr Webb at lwebb@UtahPolicy.com, (801) 243-7601.

Photo: Jackie Flowers, General Manager, Idaho Falls Power

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About Idaho Falls Power:  Idaho Falls Power is a municipal electric utility serving the corporate city limits of Idaho Falls, Idaho. The City has operated the utility continuously since its establishment in 1900. Learn more on our website.

Idaho Falls Zoo’s Winter Zoo School

Idaho Falls Zoo hosts zoo classes over winter break

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho: From ravishing reptiles to amazing adaptations and the wonders of winter life, Idaho Falls Zoo will host a series of cool winter classes for children ages 2-13 over the winter break – December 22, 29 and 30.

“If your kids like animals, they’ll love our winter education classes!” states Sunny Katseanes, education curator. “We’ll explore how animals such as frogs and snakes survive harsh weather conditions and observe how they protect themselves and avoid becoming someone’s dinner,” adds Katseanes.

Visit the Idaho Falls Zoo on our website for class topics, hours, prices and registration. For additional questions, contact the Idaho Falls Zoo Education Department at (208) 612-8418 or via email at zooeducation@idahofallszoo.org.

Photo: Snow leopard courtesy of Paul Sangeorzan

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About Idaho Falls:  Situated along the Snake River at the western edge of the world famous Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls has all the features of big city living, but still embraces a small town charm. Our skyline consists of the majestic Teton Mountain Range, and in our backyard is the world’s most famous park – Yellowstone. As the regional center for healthcare, shopping, and entertainment, Idaho Falls is attractive to small and large businesses alike and consistently finds itself listed in the top ten rankings of many prestigious magazines, newspapers and professional community research publications.  Learn more at http://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/

Holiday Travel Tips from Idaho Falls Regional Airport

Idaho Falls, ID – Idaho Falls Regional Airport is expecting an increase of passengers traveling through the airport during the month of December. In addition to TSA’s suggested travel tips, IDA is providing the following information to ensure everyone’s holiday travel is stress-free and enjoyable:

Arrive early: Passengers are encouraged to arrive at least 1.5 hours prior to their departure time. Arriving early will ensure you have plenty of time to park, check in and go through the security check point.

Boarding passes: Boarding passes may be obtained by checking in at the airline ticket counter, by printing them off at home or utilizing airline smartphone apps. Using a mobile smartphone, passengers may download the appropriate airline app to check-in for their flight and go straight to the TSA security checkpoint.

Packing tips: It is advised that passengers carry medications, cash, jewelry and any other valuables with them on the plane. Include identification tags on each piece of luggage that provides the passenger’s name, address and phone number.

Baggage allowances: Baggage allowance, size, weight and fees vary between airlines. Please check the airline’s website for a complete list of baggage information. For a list of carriers and their websites, visit: iflyida.com/airlines.

Expedited security: TSA Preü is available at IDA and offers travelers expedited screening for eligible participants. There is an enrollment center in Idaho Falls at 1230 N Skyline Drive, Suite A. It is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information, please visit universalenroll.dhs.gov.

Parking: IDA offers free parking for the first 30 minutes. Long term and hourly parking options are available; both cash and credit are accepted.

Pick-up and drop off loading area: Please be advised that the loading and unloading area in front of the airport is for immediate pick-up or drop off. If it is anticipated that you will need more time, please park in the parking lot and utilize the free 30 minutes.

Airport hours: IDA is open from 4:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. every day.

The Idaho Falls Regional Airport staff is wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday season. For more helpful information, please visit IFlyIDA.com.

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About Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA): Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) is an air transportation center for Eastern Idaho, Southern Montana, and Western Wyoming travelers and serves as an access point to some of America’s favorite tourist destinations including Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Sun Valley, Idaho. The terminal building is easy to navigate, parking is just a few steps away from check-in, there are never long TSA lines and airport amenities include free wi-fi, electronic charging stations, a restaurant, gift shop and concession stand. The airport is served by Delta Airlines with daily nonstop flights to Salt Lake City, Utah and seasonal service to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; United Airlines with daily nonstop flights to Denver, Colorado; and Allegiant with weekly flights to Las Vegas, Nevada, and Phoenix/Mesa, Arizona and seasonal flights to Los Angeles and Oakland, California. For more information or to book a flight, visit IFlyIDA.com.

About Idaho Falls:  Situated along the Snake River at the western edge of the world famous Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls has all the features of big city living, but still embraces a small town charm. Our skyline consists of the majestic Teton Mountain Range, and in our backyard is the world’s most famous park – Yellowstone. As the regional center for healthcare, shopping, and entertainment, Idaho Falls is attractive to small and large businesses alike and consistently finds itself listed in the top ten rankings of many prestigious magazines, newspapers and professional community research publications.  Learn more at http://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/