From small-town man to small-town mayor: Jerry Merrill shares his love for Rexburg

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In a sunbaked building on Main Street stands Rexburg City Hall. It is a small, brown building across the street from a U.S. Bank. It is also where Jerry Merrill, acts as mayor of Rexburg.

As Merrill enters his office, his eyes were friendly, and a bit tired-looking.

“It’s been a good morning so far, but I have had much to deal with already at 10 in the morning,” Merrill said.

Dressed in a simple, green checkered shirt and a pair of blue jeans, Merrill’s humble attire reflected his humble roots and attitude.

Born and raised in Blackfoot, Idaho, Merrill started attending Ricks College in 1975 and received a degree in horticulture. Ricks College is where he met his wife, Marianne. After graduating, he started his own landscape business and raised his family in Rexburg.

“Our goal with Rexburg is to be known as “America’s family community,” Merrill said.

He was elected as mayor of Rexburg in 2015 and was re-elected as mayor of Rexburg in 2019. His eyes lit up passionately and he uncrossed his legs as he went into further detail.

Since being reelected in the fall of 2019, Merrill has had an abundance of challenges that have put his town in the national spotlight. From the Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow murders to Rexburg taking the number one Covid-19 hotspot in America, Merrill is aware of how these events make his town look.

“We do receive a lot of negative press as a town, I will admit, but as I tell people when I travel that there will always be issues and people who struggle, but for the most part, my town produces good, honest people,” Merrill said.

Merrill said that one of the biggest priorities he has as mayor is making Rexburg’s downtown area a place where people want to be.

“We have encouraged businesses to fill up along Main Street, and we currently have no vacancies,” Merrill said. “We have planted beautiful flowers and set up warm fire pits.”

Merrill said that part of being “America’s Family Community” means having family friendly things for people to do.

“Other towns and cities get people to visit their downtown areas through bars and drinking,” Merrill said. “Not us. We try to replace bars with orchestra concerts and whatnot.”

Merrill explained that two new parks are being built in Rexburg.

“We have an 18-acre park we are building that we are going to call River Park,” Merrill said. “There will be river access that allows you to float down all the way to Eagle Park.”

The other park, Merrill says, is going to be built on the south end of town for the kids of the community to enjoy.

“Not necessarily just young children but for all,” Merrill said.

Merrill said that above all, what makes this town great are the people and the students who come here.

“I always say we have the best student body in the whole world,” Merrill said, beaming with pride. “I have been blessed to meet so many people with fine upstanding character in Rexburg, coming from all walks of life. You guys are what powers our town.”