(Source: Allison Hess) WSU President Charles Wight shakes the hand of Ogden Mayor Caldwell last night at the signing.
(Source: Allison Hess) WSU President Charles Wight shakes the hand of Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell last night at the official signing of the college town initiative.

The city of Ogden and Weber State University have sealed the deal and made Ogden a college town.

The Ogden City Council met yesterday and signed into effect the College Town Charter. Representatives from WSU included WSU President Charles Wight, vice president of student affairs Jan Winniford, and WSU student body president David Wilson. Both Wilson and Wight spoke optimistically of the partnership between WSU and Ogden City, thanking the council for its willingness to collaborate.

The College Town Charter, which has been in discussion for more than a year, aims to make the city of Ogden more student-friendly.

Wilson explained that students could begin to benefit from the charter immediately.

“Specifically, (it) means that we are formalizing the relationship between Weber State University and Ogden City. In the future, you will see more and more collaborations like Damian Day and Webertown. If you go to weber.edu/studentdiscounts, you can see the beginning of an Ogden student discount program beginning to take shape.”

The discount program, while currently in its beginning stages, offers discounts at many local businesses, including The Pie Pizzeria, iFly, Anytime Fitness and Ben Lomond Historic Suites.

“The beauty of the relationship is that there is so much more to come,” Wilson said. “The collaboration is just beginning! There are so many more ideas out there that we have yet to realize, and I’m excited to see what happens. To me, the charter shows that we have a city and a mayor who are about Weber State and its students. I like the fact that they want to work with us to make our experience at Weber State, and in Ogden, a great one.”

Ogden City Mayor Mike Caldwell expressed his enthusiasm for the signing of the initiative, saying he was honored to see the work that has gone into it.

“It’s a thrill for me to work with (WSU) and see the many different things that we can bring into our downtown and the people we can bring up to the campus. There are many opportunities for both of us to collaborate more together.”

According to Brady Harris, the president of WSU’s student senate, talks of the initiative began last summer. Harris, Caldwell and former WSU Student Association president Andrew Gardiner met to begin brainstorming about how to make Ogden more of a college town. These meetings resulted in the creation of Damian Day, a city-wide celebration of then-rising WSU basketball star Damian Lillard. This and last April’s Webertown were successful enough events to inspire more collaborations between the university and the city.

Several members of the Ogden City Council, including Neil Garner, spoke highly of the personal education they received from WSU.

“It has been so wonderful to see Weber and Ogden come together,” Garner said. “I’ve grown up in this town — Weber is a part of my fiber. I’m not a stranger to the campus because of all the things that happen there . . . I’m looking forward to some things that have not even been envisioned yet between this collaboration — some great things are going to happen.”

City councillor Doug Stephens said this initiative will serve to better all involved, and that the university and city of Ogden can be more successful together.

“There’s many fabrics that make up this collaboration of interests and innovation, and part of that is the unity of Ogden and Weber State University,” Stephens said. “There’s a purpose for this — the purpose is that we will be able to grow together. And as the university becomes successful, Ogden becomes successful . . . Weber State adds to our city for our citizens to have a better way of life.”

Councillor Susan Van Hooser praised the university for its past contributions to the Ogden community.

“When people ask me, ‘Why do you live in Ogden?’, the first thing I say is Weber State. I don’t know of any place I’ve ever lived — and I’ve lived a lot of places — where I can have this advantage of education, and not only for me, but for my children.”

Wilson spoke with the student senate earlier this week about the positive effects of the initiative being signed.

“It is something that is an awesome step forward for Ogden City, as well as for Weber State, to move together and make Ogden more of a college town,” Wilson said. “It’s an awesome step forward for students . . . they’re stepping up and helping us, and we’re trying to step up and help them as well.”

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