There’s still a lot happening on the business scene in Twin Falls.
Since I came to Twin Falls in early 2016, it seems like I’ve rarely had a shortage of new businesses to write about. This year, I got to break the news about several new restaurants opening in town: Black Bear Diner, Blaze Pizza, Chipotle and Yellow Brick Café. And my story about Olive Garden considering Twin Falls for a future location was an instant hit among readers online — a group of investors even called me a few days ago to inquire about it.
While new businesses are fun to write about — and sometimes require a bit of delving into public documents to discover — I wouldn’t say they were my most challenging or time-consuming stories when I reflect back on 2017.
This year, I recall seeing more of a recurring topic than I had in 2016: ongoing disputes between businesses. It was these stories that, when I look back on 2017, were probably some of the most challenging ones to write. They required more investigation, careful listening and a higher level of proofreading — and they’re issues that aren’t likely to go away before 2018 in well underway.
Staffing agency dispute
This topic was difficult to report on because it required some delving into court history. The story was about the latest decision issued by a judge regarding a legal dispute between representatives of Gem State Staffing, Extreme Staffing and Tradesman Staffing.
When I called the parties involved, I got a different story from each of them. And emotions were high! Two business owners were accusing an employee of Tradesman Staffing of lying and avoiding having his wages garnished from a lawsuit he’d lost years previously. That employee in turn said his accusers were going after an honest family man who was just doing his part and happened to become successful at his job. One of the other staffing agency owners, he said, had even shot out the windows to his business and his home (that person had plead guilty to a misdemeanor regarding Tradesman in Ada County, but he denied any involvement in Twin Falls).
As I often find, sometimes the truth is difficult to uncover. The best I could do here was present all sides as fairly as I could. After hours of looking through court records, making phone calls, and editing the article, I was pleased with the resulting story. It’ll be interesting to see how this feud develops in the future.
Lamb Weston union vote — and federal complaint
When Lamb Weston employees got a union election scheduled this summer at the Twin Falls plant, the workplace was tense. Employees on both sides of the vote accused each other of harassment, intimidation and coercion.
Without being there personally, it would have been impossible to determine whose side was in the wrong. Thankfully, that’s not my job. I can only report what I know for sure, attribute what’s said to me and inform readers of what’s being said on either side of an issue.
Since my initial reports ran, the union has taken its accusations to the federal government, in the form of a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. The board was set to hear the issue in January, but with a proposed settlement still under consideration by the NLRB regional director, we’ll wait to see how things pan out.
DaVita Dialysis vs. Dutch Bros
A line of coffee drinkers each morning appears to be blocking kidney dialysis patients from getting in to treatment. At least, that’s what a patient, a Fed-Ex driver and employees of DaVita Dialysis told me when I went into the business one weekday afternoon. I could easily see how that would be the case given the layout of the drive-though lines and the proximity of DaVita Dialysis to its property line.
The problem is obvious: A bad drive-through design got through a loophole in the city’s code as it was written at the time. But the solution might not be so simple unless all parties come to the table and work on a compromise that they can live with. In the meantime, both patients and coffee drinkers are having to cope with the conflicts.