In less than a decade, Vineyard’s population has grown from just a few hundred residents to around 15,000.
On Friday, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox toured different parts of the city to observe what is being built and to help put together a community library.
According to city council member Tyce Flake, the city has diverted the majority of its income to building the infrastructure required to support the booming population.
“They’ve done it the right way,” Cox said. “Infrastructure first, density and growth second.”
However, investing in infrastructure means Vineyard doesn’t have certain amenities. When Vineyard Mayor Julie Fullmer was serving as a city council member, she made a point to meet with members of the community to find out what they wanted, and overwhelmingly, she said residents wanted a library.
The city had just moved its offices into a larger, newer building and Fullmer suggested the old building be turned into a community library. In order to start a small library, she said, they needed 5,000 books. Residents donated more than 10,000.
“The people were really excited and everybody was donating, we’ve had like 10 groups come, organize, categorize, get rid of books, fix books, and so it’s really the (residents) that have pulled this together,” Fullmer said. “I’ve just been facilitating it.”
The project has attracted several donors, Fullmer said, including Flagship Homes, which she said donated $10,000. Nate Hutchinson, with Flagship Homes, said the company built its first home in Vineyard and has since built several projects in the city. When the company heard about raising funds for a community library, Hutchinson said they jumped at the chance to give back.
“We thought it was a beautiful opportunity for us to be able to give back a little bit to this community here who’s been so good to us,” Hutchinson said.
It was also especially meaningful, he added, to turn the building where Flagship Homes made all of their presentations to the city council into the new community space.
“This building ... meant a lot to us over time,” Hutchinson said. “We ... worked real closely with the city over time ... I think that’s kind of what motivated us to do something.”
Once the library is up and running, Fullmer said part of the space will be turned into a recreation center people can rent out to help pay building expenses.
“It will pay for the building and it will maintain and manage the library ... at no cost to our residents,” Fullmer said.
Friday morning, residents gathered to help move boxes of books onto shelves, as well as build additional shelves. Cox and his wife were present to help as part of their commitment to visit all 248 incorporated cities and towns in Utah, a tour which started in June. Vineyard is stop 194.
“It’s just been an incredible opportunity to talk to people to learn about what’s happening in their community, to really focus on what we would need to do if I get the opportunity to be the next governor,” Cox said. “What are the issues that people are facing and that need our attention ... and not only that, but I get to meet some of the best people in the world, which is fun.”
Before the project started, Cox spoke to several children who were present, visiting from the Franklin Discovery Academy right next door. Cox emphasized the importance of serving communities, which is another driving force behind his city and town tour.
“Politics is just broken in our country. It’s become so toxic,” Cox said. “Utah’s been immune from that in the past, but unfortunately, we’re seeing more and more.”
Despite political strife, Cox pointed out that Utah continues to lead the country with high numbers of volunteers.
“We really believe that government isn’t the solution to all of our problems. It’s an important solution, but it’s not the solution,” Cox said. “The giving back and helping each other out as neighborhoods, that’s really what makes us special.”
To remind people to be service-oriented, Cox said he has participated in at least 45 local service projects while visiting cities across Utah. He said it’s been a great way to connect with community members because often the people that come to a service project wouldn’t come to a political rally, enabling him to reach more of the population. Friday’s service project he said was a great example of a community coming together.
“We have young people and their parents, we have students coming over to help them put books on shelves, volunteers building those shelves. I mean, that’s how this is supposed to work,” Cox said. “We save a lot of taxpayer dollars, but we also have this movement. And now people feel invested, because it’s their library, because they helped make it happen. And that to me is the best of all those worlds.”
For Fullmer, seeing her passion project come together, and to know people are excited about it, has “felt amazing.”
“It was just that thing of saying, I’m going to start something and I’m going to champion it with you and then watching it come together and be completed. It feels really great,” she said.
Catherine Eslinger, a mom of twin 5-year-old girls, came to volunteer and move books. She said while she loves the programming available at Provo and Orem libraries, she’s excited to have a closer library to access.
“It’s always so nice to have local resources that you can walk or bike to,” Eslinger said. “Sometimes you just need some fresh books.”
Aside from taking advantage of the thousands of books that were donated, community members will also be able to pick up books they’ve ordered from other libraries.
“It’s just really amazing how all these different leaders from across the community and across the state have come and put their hand on this project,” Fullmer said. “I think that really shows that people care about our community, and people care about reading and education and that’s a big deal.”