In 2010 Jim Gentry retired from the College of Southern Idaho after teaching since 1969, along with chairing the Social Science Department after 1997. While completing his Ph.D. in History at the University of Utah in the 1980s, he became aware of the potential of local studies. The College of Southern Idaho published his In the Middle and On the Edge, The Twin Falls Region in Idaho in 2003, and more recently his Meeting Needs and Developing Opportunities. A History of The College of Southern Idaho in 2015. Believing in the power of history he began sharing observations about Bliss and Hansen, Idaho, along with the experiences of Czech people in the Buhl-Castleford area. More recently he has focused on insights from the above two books. The Idaho State Historical Society granted him an Esto Perpetua Award in June 2013.
After seven years of seeking to create a viable junior college between 1960 and 1967, a vote created the junior college district, a site was selected, a bond issue was passed and ground was broken. The community relished the building of the campus between 1967 and 1972. The CSI Tower was completed in December 1967. The Twin Falls Times-News detailed the construction of the seven buildings as the paper provided pictures of the drama. Locals brought guests to see the progress. Special open houses and celebratory events defined each accomplishment.
The Idaho legislature encouraged voters to create junior college districts with the Junior College Act of 1939. The act provided the first authorization for publically-supported junior colleges. Immediately Twin Falls realtor Arthur Swim recommended that the Twin Falls Chamber of Commerce seek to create a local junior college. Although World War II stopped immediate progress, several developments during the 1940s and early 1950s encouraged the creation of a junior college in Twin Falls. While rejecting the first attempt in 1954, voters created a junior college district in 1964.
In December 1954 Twin Falls citizens overwhelming rejected the creation of a Twin Falls County junior college by 2,937 to 467. Nevertheless, a series of events, including disappointment with the lack of population growth demonstrated by the 1960 census, Twin Falls citizens aggressively began to modernize their community and prepare for the future by 1965. Community leaders stimulated the voters to develop a modern sewage treatment plant, to create a much more adequate water system, to gain urban renewal funds for sprucing up sixty-year old city and to create a junior college district.
In the Middle and On the Edge. The Twin Falls Region of Idaho, published in 2003, invites the question, what makes the area in the middle and on the edge? Located east/west geographically between Pocatello in the Portneuf Valley and Boise in the Boise Valley and, north/south, between the Wood River Valley and the Great Basin in Nevada, the city is also sandwiched between the Rock Creek Canyon and the Snake River Canyon. Throughout its history Twin Falls has been historically and culturally in the middle and on the edge in many ways. That has influenced significantly local history.
When Wilson Price Hunt and crew traveled westward thought South-Central Idaho seeking a water-route to the mouth of the Columbia River, they were the first documented Euro-Americans to follow the Snake River across southern Idaho. The area was then claimed by Spain. Traveling a northern route, Lewis and Clark earlier had missed the region. The Hunt party experiences informed the later fur traders and Oregon Trail pioneers. Although some of their information was misleading, it would dominate the understanding of South-Central Idaho for many years. In just thirty-five years all of the area would become part of the United States.