Dickinson residents: Quality of life worseningThose attending the Dickinson State University Energy and Oil Community Impact Panel and Forum on Tuesday gasped at the shocking statistics and information presented.
By: April Baumgarten, The Dickinson Press
Those attending the Dickinson State University Energy and Oil Community Impact Panel and Forum on Tuesday gasped at the shocking statistics and information presented.
Residents gathered at the Dickinson State University Beck Auditorium to listen to officials analyze and answer questions about an oil boom in western North Dakota. The event was monitored by the DSU student-run League of Political Scientists. Panel members said some residents see the growth negatively.
“About two-thirds of the respondents said (the quality of life) has somewhat worsened or significantly worsened,” said Craig Kubas of Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson. “While people saw some of this growth has its cons, everyone seems to be doing pretty well. The community is perceived as having the greater negative impact.”
City Administrator Shawn Kessel said the city has grown by 3,000 people in 18 months. The city is serving 21,000 to 22,000 people.
“A lot of the congestion and other things that have gone on can be attributed to the growth that we see living in nontraditional quarters,” Kessel said.
Another jaw-dropper came from Walmart store manager Sky Wilson. The superstore averages 5,000 transactions a day. Keeping the shelves stocked can prove difficult, Wilson said, especially when he has an overturn rate of 80 percent.
“It’s not long before those employees that we hired find a job elsewhere with higher wages in the oilfields,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot of opportunity surrounding that.”
Wilson added he has had a hard time keeping employees because they cannot afford rent prices, which Kessel said have doubled and even tripled in the last year.
While unemployment in North Dakota is the lowest in the country at 3.6 percent, Dickinson has an unemployment rate of 1.7 percent. Dominic Goodman, representing the Ramada Grand Dakota Lodge, said people are coming to North Dakota to find jobs but they cannot find a place to stay.
“Per month, we are almost 200 room nights being overbooked,” Goodman said.
Real estate agent Dick Theurer said the city is doing some things right in comparison to an oil boom in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“I do believe I have seen a lot of wisdom used this time around I didn’t see that first time,” he said. “It’s good to see the city take care.”