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Better know your leaders: Jay Elkin

You’re the only Stark County commissioner that doesn’t have a Dickinson address. How does living in Taylor differ your perspective from the other commissioners?

I don’t believe that living in Taylor gives me a different perspective from the other commissioners. The reason being is that Stark County itself is very rural. All of the commissioners have either grown up or have a rural background. Each of us understand the needs of the citizens of Stark County.

You represent the county on the Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission. What have been some of the challenges faced by both boards in this time of growth?

Since I became a commissioner in 2008, the greatest challenge by the Planning and Zoning boards — both city and county — have been the number of requests, as well as the complexity of these requests for zoning, especially within the development of industrial subdivisions. We also need to remember is that agriculture will always be here after oil. We have seen this in past energy booms. Ag is still the No. 1 industry in this county and I believe that will remain.

What has been one of the biggest challenges facing the Stark County Commission as oil development has brought growth?

The challenges facing the Stark County Commission are not related to any one department but, to all of the departments within Stark County. The workload has increased significantly within all county departments. For example, Social Services, even though we have an energy boom, the request and needs for Social Service programs has increased considerably. Last year, almost 700 oil-related social service cases we handled.

How does the commission balance the needs of western Stark County, which is more directly affected by oil, and those of eastern Stark County, which are still seeing impacts, but not as much development?

Even though oil drilling activity is more in western Stark County, eastern Stark County has seen an increase of families moving to the communities of Gladstone, Taylor and Richardton. The growth has been overwhelming for these small communities. They have seen an increased need for fire and ambulance, which are serviced by volunteers. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to find these people to serve in these unpaid positions. Also, these communities are finding increasing needs for basic infrastructure like sewer and water. These communities are having a difficult time financially upgrading the services needed by the citizens that exist here or are moving to these communities.

What is your favorite new business to come to Stark County? What else would you like to see come here?

I really do not have one particular favorite business in Stark County. However, when my family and I eat out, we enjoy the dining experience at the BrickHouse in Dickinson. We enjoy the quiet atmosphere and being able to talk amongst ourselves as well as their menu. I would like to see more retail move into Dickinson. I do believe with Menards moving here we will see other retail stores follow.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206