BRIGHAM CITY -- Starting small, Utah State University set up one of its fledgling regional outreach efforts here in 1983 in a rented room in the County Courthouse.
By '85, things were moved to a turn-of-the-century home at 23 S. 200 East. The living room served as a computer lab, one bedroom became an office and other bedrooms "Com-net" classrooms with video links to the main Logan campus.
Fast forward 30 years and officials here are ramping up another lobbying effort for the Utah Legislature seeking a $7.5 million appropriation for the coming USU Brigham City campus.
City officials have committed to bonding for the other $7.5 million for the initial $15 million, 60,000-square-foot building.
Design plans and artist's renderings, funded by the Legislature last session, show off a sweeping interior setting of foyers and two- story windows amid classrooms, lecture halls, offices, student services areas, study halls and a bookstore. Plus a large multi-purpose room is planned to share with the community to host events.
"It's a few months from being shovel-ready," said Tom Lee, dean of USU-Brigham City, which currently resides in a strip mall east of the Walmart on 1100 South, serving about 1,000 students with a faculty of roughly 60.
The hope is for construction to start in the spring, with the Legislature's blessing.
"We're hoping this is the year," Lee said.
USU has already spent a little more than $8 million acquiring, clearing and preparing the 50-acre grounds -- the former site of the K-Mart on the east side of south Main just north of 1100 South. Lee likes to say it will sit at Brigham's southern gateway.
The lobbying effort come January will feature USU President Stan Albrecht plus city and county officials and others.
"All the universities will be there, for buildings and other initiatives," said Lee. In addition to the ongoing press-the-flesh individual meetings with lawmakers, "We'll be making presentations to the higher education committees as well as the Infrastructure and General Government Appropriation Committee, the IGGA."
The Northern Utah Chamber Coalition sees the Brigham campus as its top priority, said Monica Hardaway, executive director of the Brigham City Area Chamber of Commerce. The coalition consists of five Top of Utah chambers.
The Brigham campus is number two on the state Board of Regents higher education capital list, Lee said, and number seven on the state Building Board list.
Lee envisions USU-Brigham City could eventually serve as many as 8,000 students.
"This will be a regional commuter campus with heavily non-traditional students, mostly part-time as they will come from working families with children," he said.
Currently USU hosts about 17,000 students on the Logan campus and another 10,000-plus on the various regional campuses around the state. "Eventually we'll have as many students on the regional campuses as on the Logan campus," Lee predicted.
History is a big part of the site as it waits for the college to land as soon as next spring, now basically a huge parking lot for several small businesses and fast food outlets since USU tore down the K-Mart.
Lee is well up on the history of the site, all the way back to its status as the Bushnell Hospital holding up to 2,300 convalescing servicemen during WWII.
The Bushnell hospital had about 65 buildings, some that still remain as the Bushnell Motel on the north side of 7th South. South of 7th South the former hospital stretched for 300 acres and after the war became the Intermountain Indian School until the school closed in 1984. In the time the K-Mart came and went, the city built a golf course just east of the college site.