By Mark Wright
Rexburg Struggles with Change
REXBURG, Idaho -- In this life, nothing is constant except change.
And in northern Idaho, the changing face of Rexburg is rapidly
bringing that reality into a somewhat painful focus. The recent
decision by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to turn
Ricks College into a four-year institution will accelerate the pace
of change in a community that is still uncertain about the impact
that the changes will bring. Over the next five years Ricks College
will be transformed into Brigham Young University-Idaho, adding more
than 2,500 students and hiring approximately 100 new faculty members.
The projected growth at BYU-Idaho will provide some new demographics
for Rexburg. Given the historical perspective of BYU-Provo, there
should be a measurable influx of married students raising children in
the newly proposed married student housing development located on a
hill adjacent to the college.
Even before the expansion of BYU-Idaho was announced, Rexburg had
been growing and changing in other ways as well. For example,
Melaleuca Inc. and Artco Inc. have each opened call centers employing
nearly 500 people in the past two years. In addition, Rexburg is in
the running to land a new facility for California-based Ttest, which
could eventually bring another 500 jobs to town. Along with the
students and faculty associated with BYU-Idaho, these newcomers will
need new homes and drive the demand for additional retail stores as
While concerned about the kinds of things that everyone worries about
when new development comes calling in their neighborhood; things like
traffic, land values, and crowding, some local residents seemed
almost resigned to the changes. "I know growth is inevitable," she
said. Similarly, Russ VanAllen, a resource assistant at Madison
Middle School, knows that change is coming. VanAllen is also very
pragmatic. "I know we can't stop change," VanAllen said, "We can't
stop the city from growing." He is, however, hoping that the growth
doesn't destroy the environment that convinced him to settle in
Rexburg when he left a too-big Salt Lake City. "I like Rexburg. I can
go to the bank, the store, and meet people I know. They call me by my
first name," he said.
The proposed growth will also stress the local governmental agencies
that are striving to keep up with the pace of change. Donna Benfield,
the Rexburg City Council member assigned to work with planning and
zoning issues, knows that the addition of BYU-Idaho is only the
beginning. "Right now, we've probably just scratched the surface" of
growth coming to town, Benfield said. "We've probably got a lot more
Whether or not Benfield is a member of the Church, her words
certainly carry the strength of prophecy.
BYU-Idaho, new companies change Rexburg's growth plans
Odgen UT Standard-Examiner (AP) 8Apr01 D3
The Associated Press
Not everyone happy with prospects of more students, businesses coming to community
ing this list.