All posts by Kerry Hammon

Grammy-Nominated Country Duo to Perform in Idaho Falls During Total Solar Eclipse Weekend

City identifies designated viewing areas & opens parks for overnight camping to accommodate large crowds

Idaho Falls, ID –  On Monday, August 21, 2017, Idaho Falls residents will join millions of Americans as we gaze at the sky to witness a phenomenon that occurs on average once every 375 years in any one location on earth – The Great American Total Solar Eclipse.

Not only has the city of Idaho Falls been designated an “Official NASA Observation Site” for the eclipse, but locals and guests will experience the excitement of this celestial event in classic Idaho Falls style with music provided by County Music Awards “Duo of the Year” and Grammy-nominated “Best Country Duo/Group Performance,” Brothers Osborne.

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Brothers Osborne recently announced their performance at the Sandy Downs Arena scheduled for Saturday, August 19. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m.  A limited amount of “early bird” tickets will be available for $25. Ticket prices are $30 seated and $35 for the standing only area. Limited VIP packages are available for $100. Presale tickets can be purchased online beginning Friday, March 3. On-site ticket locations will be announced soon. For additional information about the concert, including sponsorships, see the Live a Little Productions website or call (888) 490-1990.

To accommodate additional guests to the region during the eclipse weekend, city officials have identified four parks as designated viewing areas – Old Butte Soccer Complex, Freeman Park, Community Park and Tautphaus Park.  The viewing areas are open and free to the public.

Ampitheater at Freeman Park
Ampitheater at Freeman Park

In addition, three city parks will be opened for overnight camping – Sandy Downs, Noise Park and South Tourist Park.  While Sandy Downs and Noise Park will only be opened to overnight camping during the eclipse weekend (Aug. 17 – Aug. 21), South Tourist Park subsequently will be designated as a permanent pay-to-stay campground.

Additional information regarding designated viewing areas and overnight camping, including reservations, fees, park maps and accommodations will be available soon. The public is encouraged to stay tuned to the homepage of the city’s website, Facebook page or the Eastern Idaho Eclipse website for updates as they become available.

The Eastern Idaho Eclipse website is available for the public to submit events or to find out additional information such as public education, safety tips, FAQs, accommodations or to purchase eclipse-themed merchandise. Stay tuned for updates.

Official Logo of the Eastern Idaho Eclipse, Courtesy of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce
Official Logo of the Eastern Idaho Eclipse, Courtesy of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce

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

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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.

New Education Center Coming to the Idaho Falls Zoo!

Idaho Falls, ID: The Idaho Falls City Council unanimously approved a resolution to accept a $500K donation from William J. Maeck for a new Idaho Falls Zoo education center.

The education center will be named the “The William J. Maeck Education Center,” in honor of this generous donation.

The education center will be part of a new Idaho Falls Zoo Master Plan currently in development that will direct future growth and improvement of the zoo. The proposed location of the education center could be near the current Zoo Administration Office.

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“The Idaho Falls Zoo is a wonderful resource for our community that I am proud to support. As one of the zoo’s key mission is education, I knew they were limited with their current facility,” says William Maeck.

William Maeck is a local retired chemist who is passionate about supporting education and animal welfare in southeast Idaho. He was instrumental in supporting a myriad of education and animal-based programs including the Snake River Animal Shelter, The ARTiTorium on Broadway, the Museum of Idaho’s expansion fund and Maeck Family Foundation Education Center, as well as The Art Museum’s ARTWorks program, Maeck Family Foundation’s scholarships for high schools students, and Idaho Falls School District 91 school and classroom programs.

The Tautphaus Park Zoological Society (TPZS) raised $250K for the education center. TPZS will manage a perpetual fund of $100K through the Idaho Community Foundation that will provide annual funds for maintenance and utilities.  TPZS is a non-profit organization that manages the zoo’s membership program and supports a variety of zoo fundraisers each year. The society’s contribution came from funds earned through local events such as the North  American Brewer’s Association Mountain Brewers Beer Fest, Wines in the Wild, Zoo Brew, Reed’s Dairy’s Chillin’ at the Zoo and Boo at the Zoo.

Boo at the Zoo
Boo at the Zoo

“The Tautphaus Park Zoological Society has worked diligently for over four years to provide this contribution,” says TPZS Board President, Gaylene Verdoorn. “I’m extremely proud of all the hard work and volunteer hours the society board has given. The community’s support of the zoo and the many fundraising events have made this contribution possible.”

Additionally, the former Tautphaus Park Zoo docents contributed $24K in support of the new education center.

The zoo provided organized educational programs for over 2,000 guests last year. Over 7,700 school students visited the zoo on field trips.  Unfortunately, due to extreme limitations of the current facility, which includes one small classroom of only 140 square feet, only 400 guests were able to participate directly in classes at the zoo.

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“Thanks to the incredible growth we’ve seen in our educational programming and community support, demand has nearly doubled in the last two years, making the current education facilities grossly inadequate. We are bursting at the seams,” says Zoo Executive Director, David Pennock. “We are excited to launch the next phase at the Idaho Falls Zoo. The center falls right in line with our goals as outlined in our 5-year strategic plan,” explains Pennock.

The proposed design of a new center will include three classrooms that could accommodate more than 200 students as well as storage and office space, for a total of approximately 4,500 square feet.

“We are so grateful for this generous donation by the Maeck Family and Tautphaus Park Zoological Society,” states Greg A. Weitzel, department of parks and recreation director. “Education is a priority for us, especially as children are becoming more and more disconnected from nature. This facility will provide yet another opportunity for us to reintroduce children of all ages to the natural world that is so crucial to their social, emotional and physical health,” adds Weitzel.

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According to a patron survey conducted in 2015, 63 percent of zoo visitors came from outside of Idaho Falls. From April 9 to July 19, 2016, the zoo hosted more than 7,700 schoolchildren from 31 communities in 12 counties across Idaho and from cities in southwestern Montana and western Wyoming.  A previous independent study from 2009, using visitor surveys, concluded that the zoo adds $3.54 million annually to the local economy.

Nationally, attendance at zoos continues to increase. On average, 86 million people visit zoos and aquariums each year, with an astounding number of overall visits estimated at around 186 million.

Depending on the weather, the Idaho Falls Zoo will open for the 2017 season on April 8.

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

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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.

Fall and winter recreation enthusiast can now learn about a multitude of recreation activities and facilities that are available throughout our community in the recently released 2016 Fall/Winter issue of the Discover Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation Activity Guide.  Guides can also be found in local businesses and in our FREE distribution racks located in most city parks and facilities. 

Structure Fire on “G” Street

Idaho Falls, ID:  On February 21, 2017 at 11:18 p.m., the Idaho Falls Fire Department was dispatched to 310 “G” Street in Idaho Falls for a reported structure fire.

Three engines, one ladder truck, three ambulances and two fire chiefs responded, for a total of 20 personnel.

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Upon arrival, crews found smoke and flames coming from a window at the rear of the building. Engine 1, supported by Engine 5, made an aggressive interior attack and quickly knocked down the fire.

Ambulance 1 and 6 performed a primary search of the structure, which was determined to be clear.  Ladder truck 1 checked the roof for extension. Engine 4 provided ventilation to remove the smoke from the building.

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There were no injuries. Most of the damage to the building was due to smoke. There was no damage to the two adjacent buildings.  The cause is still under investigation.

For additional information, contact Battalion Chief, Paul Radford at (208) 390-8782.

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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 the City of Idaho Falls and the Bonneville County Fire Protection District. In 2015, the department provided an unmatched level of service at 4,011 engine responses and 8,666 ambulance calls.  Learn more on our website.

City’s Recreational Supervisor Retires after 32 years of Service & Receives USA Softball Red Halpern Lifetime Achievement Award

Idaho Falls, ID: The public is invited to an open house on Friday, February 24 to recognize long-time Recreation Supervisor, Kevin Day who will be retiring after 32 years of service to the City of Idaho Falls Parks & Recreation Department. The open house will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Skyline Activity Center located at 1575 N. Skyline Drive, Idaho Falls.

Day started working for the City of Idaho Falls in January of 1985 doing sports programming for the Recreation Division. The division is responsible for well over 200 annual children and adult programs, ranging in diversity from basketball and softball, to ice-skating, skateboarding, hip-hop, yoga and Taiko drumming. The division also manages more than 150 seasonal employees who work as program leaders, lifeguards, referees, swim and sport instructors and facility operators.

“If you’ve been involved with the city’s recreational programs, sports or events over the past 32 years, then you’ve experienced Kevin’s hard work and dedication to this community,” states Recreational Superintendent, PJ Holm.

Day was recently awarded the Red Halpern Lifetime Achievement Award by USA Softball of Idaho for his 28-plus years of service to the organization as the District 7 Commissioner.  In this capacity, Day acted as a regional and national qualifier for men’s slow-pitch and men’s and girl’s fast-pitch tournaments. He also served as the USA Softball liaison for local teams traveling to other sanctioned USA Softball tournaments.

Prior to dedicating 28 years of service to USA Softball as district commissioner, Day was a player and competitor of many USA Softball registered teams. He played the majority of his career in the Men’s Major Fast-pitch Division in the Salt Lake City area.  “USA Softball was like a second home for Kevin,” states Chris Horsley, coworker and recreation specialist for the division.

Day had the opportunity to play against other national softball icons such as Chuck D’arci, current Cal Bears softball coaching staff who had a renowned pitching career in men’s softball; Mike White, a five-time USA Softball Men’s National Champion; and Ty Stoflet, coined the “fastest softball pitcher in America.”

“Not only did Kevin play against great players, but he got hits off softball greats like Peter Meredith and Mike Peichnik,” explains Horsley.

Brent Martin, Park Superintendent and USA Softball Hall of Fame member recalls a tournament in Idaho Falls when they played the Camrose Kings of Canada. Their pitcher, who was touting coming off an injury, struck every batter out twice that day, except Day.  “Kevin played at a high level, and it showed when he got on that field,” states Martin.

USA Softball State Commissioner Bill Parks summed Day’s service up in one phrase at the award banquet, “Kevin is the most humble district commissioner I have ever worked with.  He is quiet and speaks little, but when he does comment, he is full of wisdom.  We will miss his presence.”

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

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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.

Community Discussion – Local Law Enforcement Roundtable

Idaho Falls, ID – Local law enforcement agencies invite the public to a roundtable discussion on February 15, 2017, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at University Place Auditorium, 1784 Science Center Drive. The event is open and free to the public.

The discussion will cover a variety of police topics pertinent to the greater Idaho Falls Community such as drugs, mental health, use of force, investigatory practices, community relations, traffic safety, and community policing.

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“One purpose of this discussion is to provide community members with an opportunity to engage in open dialogue with local law enforcement agencies and community leaders,” states Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper. “It is almost always the case that communication fosters a culture of trust among all parties.”

A diverse group of community leaders will participate in the panel discussion including police officers, policymakers, journalists, youth, racial minorities, and civic and spiritual leaders. Tim Hopkins, senior partner and founder of Hopkins Roden Crockett Hansen & Hoopes will moderate the discussion. Audience members will have the opportunity to submit questions to the panel during the second half of the program.

The results of a recent local law enforcement public opinion survey sponsored by Zions Bank and Idaho Politics Weekly, and conducted by respected pollster Dan Jones & Associates, will be included in the roundtable discussion. The results will be released on the homepage of the city’s website prior to the event.

Idaho Falls Police Chief Mark McBride states, “We anticipate that this opinion data will add insight into how local law enforcement is perceived in our community and serve as a guide for future department improvements.”

“At the end of the day, we all want the same thing – a cooperative and effective relationship between law enforcement and community members,” states Casper.

Community Policing

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

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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 Drainage Concerns & Sandbag Supplies

Idaho Falls, ID – Rain and warmer temperatures could lead to drainage problems. While some standing water along the curb line is to be expected, major drainage problems should be reported to the city.

During regular working hours (8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday), contact the Wastewater Division at 612-8108. To report a drainage issue during weekend/non-working hours, please contact Dispatch at 612-8430. Emergency numbers are also listed on the homepage of the city’s website at www.idahofallsidaho.gov.

If residents have concerns about potential flooding around their property, the city has made sand at Sandy Downs available as needed during regular business hours. The access road just east of the racetrack off 65th South is plowed, and the sand pile is exposed. Residents need to provide their own containers or sandbags and load the sand.

Local hardware and home improvement stores, as well as packing stores such as Idaho Packing Company and Volm Bag Company carry sandbag supplies.

Additional Information:  Click HERE to review a brochure on sandbagging techniques courtesy of the US Army Corp of Engineers Northwestern Division.

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

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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.

Idaho Falls Zoo Seeks Adult Volunteers for 2017 Season – APPLY NOW!

The Idaho Falls Zoo needs YOU!  Adult volunteers are essential to the zoo. They assist with conservation presentations and education programs, special events, animal care, grounds and exhibit maintenance, gardening and more.

Interested in applying but need more information? Great news! An open house for volunteers will be held on Thursday, February 16 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Idaho Falls Library, 457 W. Broadway.

Applications are now available at the Idaho Falls Zoo’s website under the Get Involved tab. Please email completed applications to zooeducation@idahofallszoo.org or drop by and see us at the zoo’s administrative office between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Applications for adult volunteers (ages 18+) are due March 1, 2017.

Once accepted, volunteers will undergo a background check and a series of training programs. Training is only offered once a year, so don’t delay, apply today! Adult volunteers are required to become members of the Zoological Society, purchase a uniform shirt, and may be required to submit medical information. The approximate program cost is $50.

For questions, contact Megan Donovan, volunteer coordinator at (208) 612-8453 or zooeducation@idahofallszoo.org.

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

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About Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park:   With more than 330 individual animals representing 130 species from all around the globe, the Idaho Falls Zoo has the largest collection of animals in the state of Idaho and is considered the “Best Little Zoo in the West.” Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the zoo participates in 44 national Species Survival Plans. Learn more on our website.

Application Period for Idaho Falls Zoo Summer Teen Education Program Now Open

Hey teens! Are you looking for a great way to get an amazing educational experience while giving back to your community and getting valuable community service hours – hours that look GREAT to potential employers and on college applications?

The Junior Zoo Crew is a summer educational program designed specifically for teens, ages 14-17.  Participants will learn about public speaking, animal care, conservation, zoo careers and education within a zoo setting. They will assist animal keepers in the Children’s Zoo and at information stations located throughout the zoo, answer questions from zoo guests, and assist with special events.

If you are looking for an exciting and educational experience this summer, apply now for the Junior Zoo Crew!  This is a competitive program – participation is limited to applicants who are accepted and is the only program available for zoo volunteers under the age of 18.

Don’t wait! Applications must be submitted by April 3, 2017 to be considered for the 2017 Junior Zoo Crew program. A link to the application is available at www.idahofallszoo.org. Simply click on the Get Involved tab at the top. Following the application period, zoo staff will then interview selected applicants.

For those accepted into the program, there is an education program fee of $85 for Tautphaus Park Zoological Society members and $105 for non-members for training, materials, a uniform shirt, nametag, recognition items and an appreciation party at the end of the season. Scholarships may be available.

For questions about the program, contact Megan Donovan, volunteer coordinator at (208) 612-8453 or zooeducation@idahofallszoo.org.

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About Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park:   With more than 330 individual animals representing 130 species from all around the globe, the Idaho Falls Zoo has the largest collection of animals in the state of Idaho and is considered the “Best Little Zoo in the West.” Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the zoo participates in 44 national Species Survival Plans. Learn more on our website.

Community-Wide Discussion: The Future of the Idaho Falls Fiber Network

Idaho Falls, ID – The City of Idaho Falls is hosting four informational meetings throughout February intended to prompt 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 ensuing years until 2007 when access to the network was granted to commercial service providers.

The network has expanded nearly every year since, providing state-of-the-art connectivity to Idaho Falls businesses while facilitating economic development and competitive internet service rates.

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 beyond 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 expansions of the network, including options for fiber to the home.

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. Options evaluated include 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 5:00-6:30 p.m. at various locations.

  • Thursday, February 9, Compass Academy, 955 Garfield Street
  • Monday, February 13, Taylorview Junior High School, 350 Castlerock Lane
  • Tuesday, February 21, Idaho Falls High School, 601 S. Holmes Avenue
  • Wednesday, February 22, Skyline High School, 1767 Blue Sky Drive

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

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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.

City Lifts Snow Removal Parking Restrictions

Idaho Falls, ID – The City of Idaho Falls has completed the majority of snow removal activities associated with the recent winter weather event.  As a result, the parking restrictions have been lifted.

Crews will continue with previously scheduled clean-up activities, including addressing cul-de-sacs, problem areas and berms in the middle of priority streets.

The Public Works Department and the Idaho Falls Police Department would like to thank residents and the traveling public for their cooperation during this process.

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

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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.