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Hoeven: Private investment may help with infrastructure needs

Press Photo by Dain Sullivan Sen. John Hoeven talks about infrastructure needs at Dickinson Public Library on Monday.

Area leaders met with North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven at Dickinson Public Library on Monday and expressed the area's need for infrastructure.

Hoeven said one possible way of easing the area's infrastructure strain could be through private investment.

"That means private investment for homes, for apartments, for stores, movie theaters," he said.

Area representatives updated Hoeven on infrastructure needs.

"We have the investors. We have the developers," Dunn County Commissioner Daryl Dukart said. "We just need the infrastructure."

Along with Dukart, representatives from area counties and towns spoke to Hoeven. Housing was brought up multiple times.

"Are you catching up with housing?" Hoeven asked.

Community leaders shook their heads. The area is experiencing a major housing crunch as part of an ongoing oil boom.

"Medora's just like Dickinson," Billings County Commissioner Jim Arthaud said, adding that hotel rooms are filling up because of the lack of housing in Medora.

Killdeer City Administrator Dawn Marquardt said housing availability is slowly improving in Killdeer, but people who live out of state have no idea how serious infrastructure needs are in western North Dakota.

Dukart also focused on funding.

"We need to continue to look for added dollars to support our own structures," he said.

Additionally, area representatives said increased oil activity is affecting social, fire and ambulance services.

"Dickinson and Stark County are a hub," Stark County Commissioner Ken Zander said. "(Oil is) stressing our services."

Some representatives are worried about water availability.

"We're hearing more chatter about these water issues," Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson said.

Hoeven said he thinks area infrastructure needs a lot of attention.

"Infrastructure's absolutely a priority for our state now," he said. "We're gaining jobs. We're growing."

Hoeven added that additional funding should help.

"We'll have almost $1 billion over the next two years between the regular highway funding and the emergency funding," he said.