An empowering conversation will soon begin for the people of Madison County.
"Sometimes small groups of people make policies that affect large groups of people, and that's why citizens should take advantage," said Steve Oakey, who described himself as an "interested citizen."
Oakey was one of the dozens of people representing all areas of the community, gathering to start that conversation.
"It's a once-in-a-generation opportunity for people to dream and think together about the future," said Christie Oostema, whose Utah-based consulting firm made its first presentation for Envision Madison.
"It's truly a grassroots effort," Oostema said. "We want everybody to have a seat at the table and express opinions, talk together, share ideas and create a common vision from which to move forward."
Next month will kick off a series of public workshops. Anyone in the community is welcome to come, voice an opinion, and talk about how they envision Madison County in the years to come.
People at today's meeting were given a quick survey. They used clickers to identify the issues they want to see addressed the most.
Overall, the answers were optimistic. Most people polled feel the community is on the right track. They said they're proud of the strong family values in Madison County. The majority feels the growing population is a good thing and it should be encouraged.
According to the poll, the biggest concern is job creation.
Some preliminary topics included growing broadband infrastructure, revitalizing Rexburg's Main Street and making Rexburg more pedestrian- and bike-friendly.
"Everything's on the table," said Envision Madison board member and Madison County Councilman John Weber. "We are approaching this with an open mind -- a blank slate, if you will. Let's plan and put everything out. All ideas will be looked at."
The first Envision Madison workshop is open to the public. It's scheduled for Thursday, June 13 at Madison High School at 7 p.m.