'I feel there's so much room to grow'
By TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner Staff
Returning to Northern Utah after more than 10 years in Virginia and a year in Oklahoma, no way was Rebecca Thomas-Maurer going to live in Ogden.
Her husband, John Maurer, suggested they consider the city, but she rebuffed the notion, recalling her perception of Ogden upon leaving Utah in 2001.
“It’s not that it was super dangerous,” she said. “It just didn’t seem like it was going anywhere. I kind of expected when we moved back it would be a ghost town.”
Thus, they settled in Layton, where she’d lived while growing up as a self-described military brat. The city is home to her husband’s family and closer to Salt Lake City.
Story over? Not by a long shot.
After returning, Thomas-Maurer would still make forays into Ogden despite her sense it was a tired, gritty city, visiting the Ogden Farmers Market, attending Ogden Symphony Ballet performances and more. And little by little, she came to realize that maybe the city wasn’t quite as bad as she had thought. Maybe she hadn’t given it a fair shake. Maybe things had changed.
Call her a convert — last January, after four years in Layton, she pulled up roots once again, this time settling in Ogden with her husband and the younger of her two kids.
“I just started seeing how things had changed, how instead of a dying town, it was starting to grow up,” she said.
These days, living in the East Bench area, she sings Ogden’s praises. It’s cleaner. There’s the Ogden Twilight Concert Series. There are the vibrant businesses on Historic 25th Street, where she works, and the offerings of Weber State University.
“It’s awesome. We love it,” she said. “We have a coffee shop down the street. The university’s nearby ... I don’t remember it being that way.”
Thomas-Maurer doesn’t stop there. She looks forward, thinks Ogden may represent the “future of Utah.” She sees it becoming a destination. For her, after living in so many places around the United States, abroad even, Ogden is home.
“It’s really trying to become a place where people want to be... Ogden is putting itself on the map with all these cultural things,” she said. “I feel there’s so much room to grow.”