Amy Dalrymple is a Forum News Service reporter stationed in the Oil Patch. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 580-6890.
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WATFORD CITY -- The post office here closes for an hour each day, but you won't find Postmaster Jason Hirst taking a leisurely lunch. After two longtime employees left, Hirst was forced to close the window from 12:30 to 1:30 each day just so he can get some work done. Hirst, who has been Watford City's postmaster for about a year, said he was not prepared for how fast he has to work all day long to keep up with the booming city. "It never seems to slow down. When you're not working the window, you're helping sort mail.
WILLISTON -- Residents of one of Williston's newest neighborhoods now have an up-close view of a drilling rig. Statoil is drilling four wells in northwest Williston, adjacent to many homes and a developing residential area. For Fargo man Chuck Horejsi, who is renting a room in a house near the rig this summer, seeing the derrick from his bedroom window is unusual. "Only in Williston," Horejsi said, laughing.
WILLISTON -- United Airlines announced Tuesday it will add flights between Williston and Denver, but letting the planes land was still up to the City Commission, which must balance short-term need for air service and long-term plans for its airport. One consideration with adding the United flights is the weight of the jets. At 48,000 pounds, they are nearly double the current 25,000 pound weight restriction on the runway at Sloulin Field International Airport. Increasing the weight limit reduces the lifespan of the runway.
TIOGA -- For Donald Widner, home, sweet home, is a purple school bus. The 49-year-old is chasing high-paying jobs in the Oil Patch, and his refurbished school bus is where he prefers to hang his hard hat. "People ask if it's a party bus," said Widner, who has been sober for seven years. "I say 'No, this is the work house.'" Widner, of St.
WILLISTON -- Business was booming Wednesday at fireworks stands in the Oil Patch. Jon Gayle, a salesman for Five Star Fireworks in Williston, said most of the shop's business comes from oil field workers, and it's not uncommon to see guys spend $3,000 to $4,000. "The oil field workers come in expecting to spend money," Gayle said.
WILLISTON -- Each time someone new arrives at Concordia Lutheran Church looking for a place to stay, the Rev. Jay Reinke has the same reaction: "Oh Lord, not another one." The small Missouri Synod Lutheran church in Williston has 30 to 40 job-seekers sleeping inside the church on a typical night, with dozens more who stay in their vehicles in the church parking lot. The practice started in May 2011 after a man from Idaho told Reinke he was going to give up and go home. Reinke invited him to sleep on the floor of the church. After that, a second man stayed, and the numbers gradually grew.
WILLISTON -- For people who drive through North Dakota's oil country and wonder what the heck they're looking at, a new tour will erase some of the mystery. The Bakken Field Tours, which launch in July, will give people a chance to take an 11-hour bus tour through the Oil Patch that features an explanation of oil and gas development. The night prior to the tour, participants will get a three-hour educational workshop that lays the groundwork for what they'll see on the tour.
WILLISTON -- Mercy Medical Center has closed its walk-in clinic, in part due to a lack of staffing. Trina Bressler, vice president of outpatient and clinic services, said it was becoming difficult to recruit enough staff for the Express Care Clinic, which closed last Saturday. Officials also decided to close the clinic because it wasn't accommodating patients who needed care in the evenings, Bressler said. Although the clinic aimed to serve patients after regular business hours, so many patients arrived during the afternoons, they would fill up the evening appointments.
WILLISTON -- People living in campers in Williston will have to get rolling, but they have a few months to find a new place to park. The Williston City Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance that makes it illegal to live in an RV outside of a designated RV park. Campers in residential areas will have to relocate by Sept. 1 and RVs in commercial or industrial areas will have until Nov. 1. The penalty for violating the ordinance is a $500 fine for each day of noncompliance. Commissioners have said the hundreds of RVs around the city create health and safety hazards.
WILLISTON -- As oil companies increase their presence in North Dakota, many are finding more ways to give back to local communities. For Marathon Oil, getting involved locally and supporting the community with donations is a priority, said Terry Kovacevich, Bakken asset team manager. "We're all trying to encourage each other to make sure we participate in the communities that we live and operate in," Kovacevich said. Marathon is the lead contributor to the Housing Incentive Fund, with a $2.5 million contribution, and has pledged $1 million toward St.