Infrastructure concerns: Killdeer citizens address shortages of housing, day careKILLDEER — Citizens who met with state infrastructure representatives at the Buckskin Bar and Grill in Killdeer on Monday are concerned the town’s housing situation is affecting the stability of education, employment and elderly care in the area.
By: Dain Sullivan, The Dickinson Press
KILLDEER — Citizens who met with state infrastructure representatives at the Buckskin Bar and Grill in Killdeer on Monday are concerned the town’s housing situation is affecting the stability of education, employment and elderly care in the area.
Gary Wilz, superintendent of Killdeer Public School, stood up during the meeting and said he is worried the low availability and high cost of housing in the area has a direct effect on teachers’ ability to live in Killdeer.
“There really isn’t anything available here,” Wilz said.
Wilz added that 25 percent of his teaching staff are forced to live outside of Killdeer because of a lack of available housing, and those living locally can barely afford the cost of having a home.
Finding enough day care is another problem that teachers are having, especially for teachers with families who have to drive a long distance to get to Killdeer, Wilz said. He added that one family has to drive from New Salem every day.
Concerns regarding housing for local employees were also brought up at the meeting. Patricia Hedger, whose husband, Don, owns Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing, Inc., said it has been a challenge to keep employees because of expensive housing. She also said it is hard to compete with the oil boom that has rolled into the area.
“It’s a real problem,” Hedger said. “We can’t be competitive with the oil field wages.”
Hedger also said she is on the board of directors for Hill Top Home of Comfort nursing home in Killdeer. She is afraid the people living there will not get proper care if the building’s employees keep leaving because of expensive housing and better-paying oil jobs.
“We are constantly recruiting help,” Hedger said.
Executive Director of North Dakota Housing Mike Anderson agreed with Wilz and Hedger in that housing costs are on the rise and must be addressed by infrastructure representatives.
“The housing costs are going up quicker than income growth, Anderson said.
Anderson is hoping that the efforts made by the representatives will make it so that no more than 30 percent of a resident’s income will go toward housing.
“That’s the threshold we try to achieve,” Anderson said.
In addition to housing, problems regarding land, transportation and water were also discussed by representatives during Monday’s meeting.
The oil boom has brought major changes to the area, North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson said in a press release sent to The Press. While there have been benefits to the boom, he added that area people facing expensive housing and other oil-related challenges will need someone on their side.
“The growth in western North Dakota’s oil and gas industry has created great benefits and opportunities for our state, but this growth brings its own challenges,” Commissioner Anderson said in the press release. “The state has been and will continue to partner with local governments to assist in developing infrastructure development plans and to address other current and future challenges.”
Infrastructure development meetings will also be held today at the Dickinson State University STROM Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation from 8 to 10:30 a.m., at Memorial Hall in New England from 12 to 2 p.m., and at the Bowman County Courthouse from 4 to 6 p.m.