Amy Dalrymple is a Forum News Service reporter stationed in the Oil Patch. She can be reached at email@example.com or (701) 580-6890.
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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.
WILLISTON -- With an oil boom driving 100 percent occupancy rates at The El Rancho Hotel and a restaurant that is always packed, many business owners would have expanded or built new hotels. Not Cyndy Aafedt. The majority owner of the Williston hotel said she's influenced by her father, Ardean Aafedt, who was an owner of The El Rancho when oil prices dropped in the mid-1980s. "If you're from Williston and you lived through the bust or if a close family member did, you approach everything differently," said Cyndy, 50. Ardean, who is now retired but continues to be a minority owner of The El
WILLISTON -- Looking for a hard hat decal? How about a drilling rig sticker for your pickup? Mark Hopkins is your guy. The graphic designer from Bend, Ore., known as the Decal Guy, is set up just outside of Williston's city limits selling car decals and other graphics from his custom trailer. Hopkins owns two sign shops, but takes his design shop on the road during the summer months. He added Williston to his route last year, and he's finding oil field workers to be good customers. The amount of business Hopkins does from Williston is similar to what he sees in Las Vegas.
WILLISTON -- In some parts of the Oil Patch, health care is hard to come by and the challenge is becoming greater. For instance, if you're not an established patient at Williston's Mercy Medical Center, it can take weeks to get an appointment for an acute need. However, if you're looking for a doctor's appointment in Dickinson, chances are you might get in for a visit the same week. In Williston, the clinic starts each day with open slots on the schedule for current patients who need to get in, but those usually are filled by 10 a.m., said CEO Matt Grimshaw.
WILLISTON -- Gov.