Boom blows editor away
It's amazing what a mere four years can do to a region's diversity in people, its number of business opportunities and the change in the landscape.
I've met many fine western North Dakota residents and have traveled many a' western North Dakota, eastern Montana and South Dakota roads, and it is time for me to take a new route. Home base is Wisconsin and I'm heading back in that direction.
When I took on the editor's post at The Dickinson Press, there were a few derricks dotting the landscape and just mumblings of an oil boom. Within a few years, it was apparent those mumblings were more than that.
Roads weren't so congested and dust didn't fly so readily. Part of the draw to what some call the "Banana Belt" was the au natural setting I had visited and enjoyed on past excursions. That has changed.
Along with this congestion and increasing dust are thousands of friendly faces and a new sense of diversity.
I have met many fascinating people from across the country and world and many organizations are working with the community to offer artistic, diverse and downright fun opportunities to introduce the new and preserve the old.
And right here at The Press I have met wonderful people dedicated to this newspaper, along with (unfortunately) too many good cooks who work to help us keep our winter figures.
Though the people on the other end of the phone may not always be the nicest, I love that some Press subscribers are stirred up if their papers are a bit late (even if snow is 15-feet deep).
Maybe that is because the area is interesting and so many stories abound.
I must share a few mind-blowing things that have occurred right here in the past four years since my arrival: a tornado, a flood and another flood, the first June snowstorm in the area in 60 years and snowstorms that kept people stuck in their homes for weeks without electricity.
The Press covered a standoff between police and Alabama prison escapees, an enrollment scandal at Dickinson State University, followed by much bad publicity, including a suicide, then the letting go of the school's president and a bomb threat.
There was also the saddening incident of three DSU students who drowned in a vehicle after driving into a pond.
And of course, the endless array of stories that come with the boom, boom, boom.
Along with this is much excitement and financial gain for many locals. There are so many fascinating people and a newspaper couldn't ask for more. It's wonderful, those who share news tips and their stories.
The Press has featured many fine community members.
However, it is the public officials that often cause a sense of limiting information (more so than in my experiences elsewhere in the newspaper business).
On more than one occasion and in more than one government office I got the sense items are withheld from The Press -- the entity trying to share the truth and keep everyone honest.
It has taken conversations with attorneys and open records requests to get information from some municipal clerks, board members and I know there is at least one area county law enforcement official who The Press is waiting to get information back from after months, though the open records request has been filed.
If you are doing your job as a paid public official, there should be no reason to hide information.
OK, enough of that. You know who you are.
Surrounding Theodore Roosevelt National Park, I learned what a real ranch is and am in awe of what goes into maintaining one.
I will forever remain concerned about the relationship between oil and water in the region and will continue to follow the story.
Many photos will remind me of the beautiful landscape that urged my sense of well-being to come here.
To all of those who have entered my life, taught me about the Wild West and shared much about the culture and charisma of western North Dakota and beyond, I am forever grateful.
By the time many of you read this, McBride will be the former editor of The Dickinson Press. Send news items to firstname.lastname@example.org. A fond farewell.