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REXBURG, Idaho — Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were surprised over the weekend to hear about the announcement of a second temple to be built in Rexburg.
EastIdahoNews.com has learned it will be built on a property at North Second East and Moody Drive across the street from Walmart.
Shelley Hegsted, who owns the property with her husband, John, and his three sisters and their spouses, Marcia and Don Heinz, Marilyn and Larry Evans, and Diane and Lewis Clements, says the church purchased the 100-acre parcel of land in July after several months of negotiation.
"We closed on it on July 15," Shelley says.
Shelley and John's 3,200-square-foot home occupies about an acre in the southeast corner of the property. The rest of it is farmland. She doesn't know any specifics about the project or when it's slated to begin, but she says they have until July 2022 to move out.
"Our family has been in that home since 1914 when it was built," Shelley says. "It's been a wonderful place to raise our family, but since town moved out that way and Walmart came, it's been so busy. It's not a fun corner to live on anymore."
Still, Shelley says the thought of giving up a piece of land that's been in her family for three generations is sad. They've been trying to sell it since 2005. Around 2008, Home Depot and Fred Meyer were planning to build a store at that location but later backed out when the economy tanked.
It's been a wonderful place to raise our family, but since town moved out that way and Walmart came, it's been so busy. It's not a fun corner to live on anymore.
Other offers over the years never seemed to work out and the Hegsteds eventually thought selling the land just wasn't meant to be.
The couple finally sold a portion of it to Kurt Harmon, a local business owner, this spring and it wasn't too long after that when a church representative reached out to both parties expressing interest in purchasing the entire property.
Knowing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is taking it over makes Shelley, a lifelong church member, happy. She's confident it's in good hands.
"It's humbled us a lot to think that this is a spot for a temple. We really can't even believe it," she says. "Whatever they do, it will be done right and nice. We just couldn't be happier. It will be beautiful."
An exciting prospect
Rexburg Mayor Jerry Merrill says the church is planning some additional commercial development next to the temple. He is not privy to the details, but he's excited about the prospect of the additional income and appeal the project will bring to the area.
"There are very few places in the world that have two temples within the same city limits, and we're going to be one of them," Merrill says. "Having a temple in town lends to a nice feel for the area. It gives a certain sense of reverence and spirituality that helps to keep crime down. Anything that helps in those aspects is always an exciting thing for us."
There are very few places in the world that have two temples within the same city limits, and we're going to be one of them.
–Jerry Merrill, Rexburg mayor
Rexburg's current temple was dedicated in 2008.
Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce President Chris Mann says he'd heard rumors about another temple coming to Rexburg prior to Sunday's announcement but never dreamed it would actually be true.
"This is exciting for Rexburg. It's always great to know that the LDS Church has great trust in the city of Rexburg. We have amazing students and amazing citizens. I look forward to seeing just how they develop the property they bought," Mann says.
Once complete, the Rexburg temple will be open to the public during an open house. Once it is dedicated, only members who are endorsed by their ecclesiastical leader will be allowed inside.
The Rexburg Temple is one of 13 temples that was announced during the church's semiannual general conference. Other temples were announced in Cody, Wyoming and Heber Valley, Utah. One of the most recently completed temples is in Pocatello. It will be dedicated on Nov. 7.