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Six states now prohibit employer, educator social media access

Six states now prohibit employers or educational institutions from requiring employees or students to provide access to their social media accounts: California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey.

Last year, news reports claimed that employers and schools were requiring prospective and current employees and students to provide access to their usernames and passwords for social media sites, leading several states to introduce bills prohibiting the practice.

Maryland became the first state to pass a law banning employers from asking actual or prospective employees for their passwords, followed by Illinois and California.

Delaware enacted legislation with a prohibition just on educational institutions.

New Jersey and Michigan joined the ranks in December 2012, with Governor Chris Christie signing A2879 on Dec. 3 and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder making HB 5523 official on Dec. 28. 2012.

Other states are still considering the issue, with legislation pending in Missouri, Texas and Vermont; federal legislation was also introduced but stalled.

Dolan Media Newswires

D.L. Evans building new office in Burley

D.L. Evans Bank announced Jan. 14 that it plans to have a new corporate office in Burley ready to open in November. CEO John V. Evans Jr. said approximately 75 employees already located in Burley will work in the new building, which will be two stories and 20,000 square feet.

“We’ve completely outgrown our existing facilities here,” Evans said. D.L. Evans Bank is based in Burley and has 20 locations in Idaho, stretching from Nampa to Idaho Falls.

The new building will be located next to the bank’s northern Burley branch, with a groundbreaking set for Feb. 11. The project is still out to bid to contractors, with designs by Boise’s Erstad Architects. The bank will be the sole occupant of the building. Evans could not give an estimated cost for the project.

Among the workers the bank is consolidating in the new building are those working at a processing center in downtown Burley. The bank owns the space, which Evans said could be used by other bank staff or rented out to other businesses.

Brad Iverson-Long

Chipotle coming to Meridian

Chipotle Mexican Grill will open its second Idaho location at The Village at Meridian. The quick service Mexican restaurant announced Jan. 14 it is leasing a 2,600 square foot space in the The Village, a development on the northeast corner of Fairview Avenue and Eagle Road. The new Chipotle will be located north of the Chick-fil-A restaurant on Eagle Road and should open in March or April, according to officials with The Village.

The Meridian location is larger than most Chipotle stores and will include a recessed patio within the dining area, according to a news release. Chipotle, founded in 1993, has more than 1,350 restaurants.

Chipotle opened in Boise on Milwaukee Avenue, near the Boise Towne Square Mall, in September 2011.

Brad Iverson-Long

Coldwater Creek expects higher losses

Sandpoint-based retailer Coldwater Creek announced Jan. 14 the company expects losses per share for its fourth quarter of fiscal year 2012 to be greater than originally forecast.

At the end of the company’s third quarter in November, Coldwater executives estimated losses per share of 55 to 65 cents for the following quarter. They now expect a loss of 70 to 85 cents per share as store sales remained essentially flat.

“We experienced strong sales during peak holiday selling periods, highlighted by record Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend performance, and favorable overall customer response to our holiday collections. However, our holiday results were negatively impacted by weak traffic in both early November and early December,” said Jill Dean, president and CEO, in a news release.

Dean became CEO at the beginning of this year, succeeding Dennis C. Pence. The change in leadership is expected to cost the company $2.1 million in its fourth quarter.  These costs are not included in the updated loss per share estimate.

The company plans to report fourth quarter and fiscal year 2012 results on March 13.

Scott Ki

Boise Cascade’s stronger sales continue

Boise Cascade reported preliminary estimated sales averaging $695 million for the last three months of 2012, with a strong chance of turning a profit. A year ago, sales were more than $100 million lower, with the company taking a loss of nearly $14 million.

Boise Cascade, a building materials and wood products company based in Boise that is gearing up for a public stock offering, will likely release its final earnings for the fourth quarter of 2012 in March, as it has the past four years.

The past year was strong for Boise Cascade. In October, the company reported $40 million in earnings for the first nine months of the year. New preliminary financial estimates released Jan. 14 show the company’s profits stayed in that same range, with estimates from $39 million to $43 million. In 2011, Boise Cascade lost $46.4 million.

In November, Boise Cascade filed for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, seeking up to $200 million.

Brad Iverson-Long

FDA offers sweeping rules to prevent foodborne illness

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a set of sweeping rules designed to boost the agency’s ability to root out the causes of foodborne illness rather than merely respond to outbreaks after they occur.

The proposed regulations are the latest issued under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. They are aimed at preventing the kinds of outbreaks seen in recent years, such as last year’s salmonella outbreak from contaminated peanut butter and the spate of Listeria caused by fruit and imported cheeses the year before.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the new rules.

The first of the two new rules would require manufacturers of all food products sold in the country – regardless of where they are produced – to create a formal foodborne illness prevention plan that includes specific protocols for correcting problems that may arise. The manufacturers would also be required to implement the plans within one year, though extra time may be granted to smaller businesses.

The second rule would establish certain enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of farm produce based on scientific and risk-based standards.

FDA officials said the rules came after an extensive, international outreach effort by the agency to the produce industry, the consumer community and other government agencies.

Dolan Media Newswires

Idaho flu season looking serious

The 2012-2013 influenza season is relatively serious this year, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports.

Eight influenza-related deaths have been reported in Idaho since Oct. 1, according to a DHW news release. Some Idaho hospitals are reporting a high use of emergency rooms for flu symptoms.

According to a report from the Partnership for Prevention, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate influenza costs $6.2 billion in lost productivity each year, along with $10.4 billion in direct medical costs. Once work absences and other variables are factored in, the total estimated economic burden is $87.1 billion.

The report also states influenza causes 200 million days of diminished productivity, 100 million days of bed disability, 75 million days of work absences and 22 million visits to health care providers each year among adults 18 to 64 years old.

Employees infected with influenza may miss up to six days of work and take up to two weeks to make a full recovery, according to the Partnership for Prevention. The report further states that employees who come to work while sick with the flu demonstrate impaired reaction time comparable to the 5 percent to 10 percent decline seen with alcohol consumption or working at night.

Workplace vaccination programs may generate savings of between $15 and $84 per vaccinated worker, according to the report. That’s $2.58 per dollar spent on vaccination.

IBR Staff

Idaho’s rural hospitals struggle in comparison to urban counterparts

The Idaho Department of Labor reports that health care workers are in demand, but rural facilities are struggling to keep up with urban facilities’ growth rates.

Rural hospital employment in Idaho grew 9 percent from 2007 to 2011, according to an IDOL report, from 3,666 employees to 3,980. During the same period, urban hospital employment grew 17 percent, from 19,689 employees to 23,102. Total covered employment for all Idaho industries decreased 8 percent during that time.

Many rural hospitals are unable to achieve the economies of scale found in larger, urban hospitals, the report states. Some of Idaho’s smallest hospitals have had to cut jobs.

Between 2007 and 2011, rural hospitals with five to 99 employees cut 31 percent of their workforce, according to the report. In the first two quarters of 2012, another 14 percent of jobs were cut compared to the same period in 2011. Urban hospitals with similar payrolls cut 3 percent of jobs from 2007 to 2011 and saw 10 percent growth in employment during the first two quarters of 2012.

For the first and second quarters of 2012, Idaho hospitals employed nearly 28,000 people. Urban hospitals employed 85 percent of those workers.

IBR Staff

Caldwell bakery shutting down, laying off 49

Rhodes Bake-n-Serv will end production at its Caldwell bakery within the next three months, putting 49 people out of work. The Salt Lake City-based company, which makes frozen bread, rolls and pizza dough often sold in grocery stores, is consolidating production to a plant in Columbus, Wis.

Workers in Caldwell were notified of the changes Jan. 10. The company will have two rounds of layoffs, with the first on March 10 and the second on April 15. Two workers will stay at the plant to operate it as a distribution plant.

Rhodes President Kenny Farnsworth said the company is consolidating its production at the Wisconsin plant because it’s in a better location to reach customers across the country and to achieve production efficiencies. Rhodes’ products will still be available in Idaho stores.

Brad Iverson-Long

Class action alleges deceptive marketing of Monster Energy drinks

Monster-brand energy drinks are marketed as being conventional carbonated beverages despite containing “dangerously high” amounts of caffeine, according to a new consumer class action filed in California federal court.

“Defendants knowingly or with reckless indifference, market, advertise and sell Monster Energy Drinks as completely safe via playful/seductive advertising designed to attract pre-teens and teens,” states a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in December.

The lawsuit was filed against Monster Beverage Corporation of Corona, Calif. The lead plaintiff in the case, Alec Fisher, is a California native who lives in Baltimore, Md. Fisher claimed he started drinking Monster Energy products five years ago when he was 16 years old. The complaint alleged that Monster Energy gets teenagers hooked on its products by handing out “freebies” at high schools.

The complaint says “numerous” scientific studies have shown that “the consumption of large amounts of caffeine, in combination with other active ingredients like guarana, taurine, carnitine, sugar, among others, by youth and adolescents can have serious health consequences.”

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration reported 40 adverse events related to Monster energy drinks, five resulting in death.According to the complaint, Monster Energy marketed its products as “carbonated energy drinks” in order to circumvent government safety standards for dietary supplements.

Dolan Media Newswires

New storefront planned at Cole and Fairview

Part of the parking lot for an Albertsons grocery store could be turned into 6,000 square feet of shops. Commercial real estate firm Thornton Oliver Keller is marketing the shops, which would get built once some of the space is pre-leased.

The potential construction project is on Fairview Avenue, directly to the north of an Albertsons and Burlington Coat Factory and east of a Starbucks coffee shop.

Ben Zamzow with Thornton Oliver Keller said he’s looking for neighborhood tenants, such as restaurants or nail salons.

“It’s an underserved area with one of the few grocery anchors in the area,” Zamzow said. There’s no scheduled start date for construction

The shopping center, including the space used by Albertsons and Burlington Coat Factory, has a new owner that is looking to turn some of the parking lot into retail space. Zamzow said the new owner is CCA-Boise Plaza LLC, which has a listed address in Los Angeles.

By Brad Iverson-Long

Idaho pension fund exceeding expectations in ’13

The state pension fund is ahead of its target through the first six months of the fiscal year.

Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho director Don Drum told budget writers Jan. 8 the more than $12.5 billion, 125,000-member fund is returning 7.44 percent through this month, above the 7 percent estimate.

If the trend continues, Drum says PERSI will reduce its unfunded liability that now stands at $1.6 billion, a figure that’s lower than in many other states whose pensions have had to make benefit changes to help balance their books.

State employees are scheduled to pay more money from their paychecks this year into the account as part of already-planned contribution hikes.

As part of that, state taxpayers’ share of contributions will rise by about $2 million this next year.

The Associated Press

Meridian contractor gets probation, fine for fraud

An Idaho roofing contractor has been ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and serve two years on probation for federal wire fraud.

A federal judge also ordered 62-year-old Patrick Large to serve eight months of his probation on home detention and forfeit $150,000.

Large is the owner of Meridian-based Quality Tile and Roofing, Inc. But he pleaded guilty in September to orchestrating a scheme to defraud federal agencies by representing that two of his employees lived in a HUB Zone — a program that encourages economic development in underutilized business areas.

Prosecutors alleged Large created another company — McDonald Roofing and Construction — and said its principal place of business was an in Emmett, which falls within a HUB Zone.

Based on the application, McDonald Roofing received a $218,000 contract.

The Associated Press

SE Idaho man sentenced for embezzling $547,000

A southeastern Idaho man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to embezzling $547,000 from his business partner and spending much of it on guns, ammunition and storable foods to be ready for a possible apocalypse.

The Idaho State Journal reports Darwin Knight was sentenced Jan. 7 in 6th District court and must serve at least two years before becoming eligible for parole. He was also ordered to repay the money.

Knight pleaded guilty in November to three counts of embezzlement from Advanced Industrial Supply after writing checks to himself during a seven-year period as the company’s financial controller.

Bill Winn, president and owner of Advanced Industrial Supply, said less than 25 percent of the stolen money went for survival items.

“Clearly, there was more important uses for the money, since the apocalypse items are just a small portion of the money stolen,” Winn said.

Knight’s job at Advanced Industrial Supply paid him more than $200,000 annually.

At the sentencing, Knight said he was embarrassed about his fear of an impending apocalypse and that was his reason for keeping it secret.

Knight in court apologized for what he had done and said he intended “to repay every penny I can possibly repay.”

The Associated Press

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