Cartoon I Need A Sign

Bakken Communities Try to Overcome Myths

By Gillette Vaira

Story Published: Feb 17, 2012 at 10:56 PM MST

Story Updated: Feb 18, 2012 at 2:50 PM MST

BILLINGS – A group of Billings business leaders spent Wednesday and Thursday in oil country. They were looking for opportunities to connect the Magic City with the Bakken Oil Formation.

  • Small town America in eastern Montana and western North Dakota has changed in recent years due to the development of the Bakken. Thousands of people are flooding towns to work in the oil fields. Williston had about 12,000 residents in 2002. Now, officials estimate the town is servicing 25,000 people.

Assistant Director of Williston Economic Development Shawn Wenko said the boom helps business, but the headlines it generates hurt the community.

“That we’re overrun with crime, that there’s zero quality of life in Williston, that there’s absolutely no place to shop or get goods or services,” said Wenko. “And that couldn’t be further from the truth right now.”

Wenko said he hopes meeting with Billings business leaders debunks exaggerations about his town.

“Williston is a safe, it’s a good place to live,” Wenko said. “There’s a lot of economic opportunity out here right now.”

Footage of the Williston Wal-Mart has aired across the U.S., cramped with campers calling it home due to a lack of housing. Wenko said they’ve addressed the issue. The tents have cleared and the store is thriving.

“As far as empty shelves or crates in the isles, that’s a false statement that unfortunately got out there. You can still find the things you need at Wal-Mart,” Wenko said. “The Wal-Mart parking lot is still a safe place to walk to your car.”

Wenko said safety concerns their community, as the rising population has lead to more disturbances. But he said authorities are staying on top of it to ensure quality business growth and the health of the people who have called Williston home for decades.

“It’s basically forced people to be a little more diligent and aware of their surroundings,” Wenko said.

Similar scenes exist across the border in Sidney. The executive director of the Sidney Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture, Wade VanEvery, said the biggest obstacle is becoming accustomed to a new way of life and a more diverse population.

“We knew everybody before, we watched them be born, and we watched them graduate, and we just knew who they were and who their family was and we made decisions on people accordingly,” said VanEvery.

  • He said local employers realize they must conduct background checks and drug tests before hiring applicants. Both VanEvery and Wenko said they’re striving to make the best of the boom for the future of Montana and North Dakota.

The Bakken Oil Formation was discovered in the 1950s, but new technology and the advancement of hydraulic fracturing have led oil companies back to the area during the past few years.

Stay tuned to KULR-8 for more details of the Billings business leaders’ trip to the Bakken.


4 thoughts on “Cartoon I Need A Sign

  1. TD…
    A friend of mine in Seattle has opened up my eyes to the horror that is fracking. He stays in touch with his roots -friends & family- in Pennsylvania. Those people and the workers who work for & service the fracking companies are being lied to and conned for the sake of oil company profits. I recommend the documentary film “Gasland” and the unusual video with T. Boone Pickens. Watch, and think about it…

    1. I know that in many circles political conservatism in frowned upon. And I hope this will not effect our spontaneous friendship. I don’t proselytize my political beliefs. However, I think the current administration is too left leaning for me, and a little nudge back to the right is warranted.

      What I want most is DISCUSSION. No diatribes allowed.

      If you want, and only if you want, I’ll show you another view. You ARE “formadable”. You can decide for yourself.

      As to fracking, I’ll read more about it. I believe, however, that the US needs to be energy independent and prudent risks should be taken to assure that independence. The key words are “prudent” and “risks”.

      Somewhere in Washington or Ottowa, decisions will be made the are far above my pay grade. In that hope, you and I and others will talk, …and vote.


  2. Agreed… moving towards the centre is necessary, yet that seems almost an impossibility when the pendulum is swinging so vigorously back and forth in the US. Seems to me that the centre point is where that pendulum flies by the fastest on its way to either extreme. Continuing to deal with only two political parties doesn’t seem to be the way to find relief anytime in the near future though….

    I prefer to stay away from politics as it’s frankly impossible for me to believe anything any politician or party says. There is no trust anymore, no respect.

    I agree. “… DISCUSSION. No diatribes allowed.” So yes, show me another view and we’ll see what develops from there.

    My response to fracking is based on a strong intuition that though on the surface it seems to be an easy solution, the problem is really way more complex than we can imagine. For starters, there are so many examples of how this industry is so poorly regulated… re, the Gulf oil rig spill. I fear for my son and his kids’ future, specifically the world environment we’re leaving future generations. I feel guilt, and yet I also feel the frustration of knowing there’s nothing I can do to make positive changes towards their future.

    You are right: “The key words are “prudent” and “risks”.”

    1. “Continuing to deal with only two political parties doesn’t seem to be the way….”

      I’ve thought about multi-party systems like in Germany. But they also have to reach consensuses. So even within the two parties, consensus is hard to come by. I’m an economic conservative, but never a Southern Baptist. I winced when I thought Santorum would win.

      “I prefer to stay away from politics….”

      Used to feel that way. Still reticent. But I found you and you’re cool. And I met an economics professor at UCLA and he said he thought all conservatives were looney. We talked. I didn’t change his mind much but he found me “reasonable”. I was a Earl Warren liberal. Now I leaning right. [a visual pun I couldn’t resist] I think the human mind wants the speed of light, but the the body politic moves like Frankenstein’s monster, swinging its arms and tottering back and forth. “Teach your, your children well…feed them on your dreams”.

      My response to fracking is based on a strong intuition….” Yes, yes, generations to come. The Japanese Tidal Wave!! Ouch!!!!!!! And we energy to find new energy

      But…we can’t cripple ourselves, our resourcefulness. Onward To Tomorrow!! Excelsior!! And all that shit. We will all die. We will. I’ve done done it three times already. Its as easy as Pi. [he he] Each generation has its challenges. If there IS a god, I’m cool with Him. If not, what the hell does it matter.

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