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Sent on Mormon-News: 09Apr01

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 well.

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 to come."

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.


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