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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MINOT -- Dave Coble may be the ultimate multi-tasker. While he was in Minot making business connections at the Bakken Investor Conference, the Arizona man also was closing on a town home in Stanley and buying furniture. The land planning and civil engineering firm Coble works for is opening an office in North Dakota, and Coble will be the first employee to relocate. "It's just exciting," said Coble, associate for CVL Consultants, which has offices in Phoenix, Denver and Las Vegas.
MINOT -- Investment planner Sanjoy Dasgupta is betting on the Bakken. For nearly a year, the Denver-area man and his wife have been investing their clients' money -- and their own money -- in oil companies that operate in the Bakken region. They're in Minot this week to see North Dakota for the first time and learn about other investment opportunities through the Bakken Investors Conference.
WILLISTON -- After four nights of sleeping in a pickup in the Williston Walmart parking lot in January, Levi Steff was ready to go home. But then the 22-year-old from western New York, who moved to the Oil Patch with his older brother, went to a local church service and heard a sermon about not giving up. "It seemed like the preacher was just speaking to us," Levi said. Levi and 26-year-old Eric Steff decided to keep going.
NEW TOWN -- Residents of a 45-lot mobile home park in New Town, many among the poorest members of the Three Affiliated Tribes, are being evicted and will be replaced by oil workers. Tribal leaders, who were offered a chance to buy the mobile home park, are working on a solution, but a severe housing shortage caused by the oil boom has the residents worried. "There's fear," said resident Verdell Smith. "Where are we going to go? We're here because there's nowhere to go." The park is now owned by Future Housing LLC.
WILLISTON -- Jeff Zarling, president of a Williston communications firm, said he often fields calls from people asking about "the Bacon." He tells them he doesn't have time to educate them on the phone about the Bakken oil fields and says they should visit North Dakota to see it for themselves. "Don't try and do business eight states away over the telephone," Zarling said.
WILLISTON -- Hawaiian Mike Kim used to joke with his wife about moving to North Dakota to get some space from their families. "That just seemed like the most remote place you could possibly go," Kim said. Little did he know that North Dakota would turn out to be his ideal location to open a restaurant. Kim and his brother-in-law, Leo Wong, recently opened the Hawaii Fire Grill in Williston. The Hawaii natives had dreamed about running their own restaurant, and became inspired after Kim learned about the North Dakota oil boom watching NBC's Brian Williams. "I thought, 'I can't get a better
WILLISTON -- Trooper Neil Kent isn't afraid to take on the heavyweights. Kent, stationed with the North Dakota Highway Patrol's Williston district, spends the bulk of his time monitoring the busy truck traffic and enforcing weight restrictions. His job is important to maintaining the state's roads, which are designed to handle a certain amount of weight. When trucks are overweight, "it causes roads to wear out sooner and have to be replaced faster," Kent said. Damage to roads caused by overweight trucks also creates safety hazards for other motorists. Kent, along with troopers Brett Mlyna
WILLISTON -- Oil regulations that take effect in April will discourage drilling in North Dakota, and at least one operator is already moving south, according to an industry representative. The new rules will add $400,000 to the cost of each well, making it less cost-effective for companies to do oil exploration in areas where the Bakken formation is less prolific, said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council. The new rules also increase the bond requirement for oil wells from $20,000 to $50,000, making North Dakota's requirement 2.5 times more expensive than other states.
WILLISTON -- With an oil boom that has made things messy in a lot of ways, Williston is in need of major spring cleaning, and it's not just locals who are rallying for the cause. Dan Manjack, a contractor from Florida who moved to Williston to build a man camp, is leading an effort to spruce up the city. Manjack is recruiting oil companies and other businesses to contribute money and manpower to pick up the trash and construction debris that litters ditches and intersections. "There are a lot of people like me who want to give back to the community that's giving us an opportunity," he said.
WILLISTON -- School kids here had spring break last week, but for some, staying home isn't much of a vacation. A growing number of students are crowded in campers with their families, living in hotel rooms or doubling up with another family. Williston Public Schools has 115 students who fall into one of those categories, which meets the criteria for being considered homeless. Betsy Kelly, who coordinates services for homeless students in the district, said half of those students live in campers, many without running water or electricity. Some families have lived in their cars, but they lef