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KUER’s Southeast Utah Bureau is based in San Juan County. The Southwest Utah Bureau is based in the St. George area. Both initiatives focus on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues, faith and spirituality and other topics of relevance to Utahns.

Dixie Center Will Keep Its Name, Leaders Vote Early In Response To Public Outcry

Dixie Center LP.jpg
Lexi Peery
/
KUER
The Dixie Center in St. George will not be going through a name change for the foreseeable future.

The Dixie Center will be keeping its name after all. The center’s board voted Tuesday to keep it, even though in June they decided to consider a name change.

The controversy started when the Dixie Center board, which includes county and city officials, unanimously voted on June 23 to rebrand the center to Greater Zion, which is in line with the county’s overall tourism marketing.

But when word got out, members of the community responded negatively to the change. The board held a meeting a week later on June 29 to revert the name back to Dixie Center for six months as more research was conducted.

Four months ahead of schedule, the board voted Tuesday to “permanently” keep the name as Dixie, or for as long as the current board has the power to do so.

Tuesday’s vote was based on feedback from the community, according to Washington County Commissioner Gil Almquist.

“The part of an elected official is to listen,” Almquist said. “It was a misunderstanding initially of the role Greater Zion would play and that it pushed the name Dixie out, which was not my intent.”

He proposed the motion that would keep the name as Dixie, but incorporate the county’s Greater Zion marketing at the center. It was approved 5-2.

Board member Shayne Wittwer voted against keeping the name and said the change to Greater Zion was to appeal to tourists from outside of the area. He also disagreed with cutting the research period short.

St. George Mayor Jon Pike also voted against the motion. He said keeping the name is just kicking the can down the road.

“Maybe some future board will decide now it’s time,” Pike said. “Clearly there’s a lot of people that don’t believe it’s time now. I don’t think we should necessarily respond to that public clamor all the time. But in this case, there wasn’t a strong business decision that said we need to change the name today.”

St. George resident Ilene Hacker is part of a local nonprofit group called Defending Southwestern Utah Heritage Coalition, which is in favor of keeping the name Dixie in the area because of its connection to early settlers.

Hacker was at the meeting Tuesday and said the way the board went about making the decision to Greater Zion was “deceptive.” She said the vote to keep the name didn’t feel like a win either and that board members were just trying to smooth things over.

“My concern is that Dixie will be so small on their correspondence and signage and everything like that,” Hacker said. “But if the elected officials choose to do that, there will be ramifications.”

The decision to stick with Dixie comes as the city’s hospital recently announced they’ll remove the name next year and the university has received pressure to consider a change.

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