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'A clean, straight-up place': Workforce lodging near Dickinson open for business again

It has been two years since the Dunn County Lodge, a workforce lodging complex that lies just north of Dickinson, was shut down. Now the Lodge sees life return and its reopening could indicate bigger things to follow.

The spacious dining hall of the Dunn County Lodge demonstrates that no expense was spared in providing workers a clean, comfortable place to live while they are here. (Iain Woessner/The Dickinson Press)
The spacious dining hall of the Dunn County Lodge demonstrates that no expense was spared in providing workers a clean, comfortable place to live while they are here. (Iain Woessner/The Dickinson Press)

It has been two years since the Dunn County Lodge, a workforce lodging complex that lies just north of Dickinson, was shut down. Now the Lodge sees life return and its reopening could indicate bigger things to follow.

"I don't know if this is a huge indicator that people should start rushing back into the region," Travis Kelley, regional vice president for Target Logistics, the company that manages the Lodge. "We're starting off pretty slow ... with a bare minimum number of guests staying with us ... but we are hoping to get a little more business now that we are open."

The Lodge is billed as something greater than the typical "man camp." It features creature comforts and amenities for workers to enjoy the hours they aren't spending out in the fields or wherever they may be working.

"Just like any of our other sites it's all-inclusive," Kelley said. "You've got the room, the meal plan that comes with it so three meals a day, gym, rec room, laundry service ... all included. We try to take care of everything they need."

The Lodge itself is a sizable complex, much like a dormitory. The reception area is furnished with soft couches and a rug; beyond that, four "mud rooms" allow workers to shed dirty work clothes and boots and head directly to their rooms to freshen up and change into more comfortable clothing. From there, they can have a warm shower, a hot meal and visit with distant family through the computer center, all without needing to leave the complex.

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"A lot of the man camps will be trailers that are strewn about outside and if there's a mess hall you have to walk through the mud or the snow to get there," Robert DeMarco, general manager of the Lodge, said. "(Here) everything is connected. Basically a guy can come in, go to the mud room, take off his dirty clothes, get a hot shower, get into a pair of shorts, grab a bite to eat ... they can do it all here without needing to ... deal with weather."

In the past DeMarco said that sheriff's deputies would make use of the facilities while they waited for a more permanent home to open up.

The Lodge's use isn't limited to just providing workforce lodging for big companies-it has community benefits as well, DeMarco said.

"We're very conscious of our presence in the community as well," DeMarco said. "We get invitations all the time to be involved ... Toys for Tots, things like that, we like to be an involved neighbor."

A cavernous dining hall features a soft-serve ice-cream dispenser and a staffed kitchen where baked goods and hot meals are made in-house.

"Everything is top-notch," DeMarco said.

In keeping with a want to be neighborly, DeMarco said that the troubles that have become associated with other "man camps" won't haunt the Dunn County Lodge.

"We represent the industry, we put a positive light on it," DeMarco said. "The stigma of guys in man camps drinking and fighting and drugs-nothing could be further from the truth in regard to how we manage this facility. I think the particular clients we attract is looking for somebody who is going to take care of their guys for them. It's a clean, straight-up place where we house clean, straight-up clients."

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Kelley said that the Lodge was reopened following an increase in demand, allowing operating it to once again be more financially viable.

"We know some customers have a need," Kelley said. "We're excited about opening because it expands that footprint for (our) existing customers."

The Lodge is located eight miles north of Dickinson, south of Manning off 27th St. SW. Anyone interested in applying can do so online at targetlogistics.net or they can visit the Lodge in person.

Work and play are both accomodated at the Dunn County Lodge, where workers can enjoy a well-stocked recreation center, a gym and fitness room and hot meals as amenities during their stay. (Iain Woessner/The Dickinson Press)
Work and play are both accomodated at the Dunn County Lodge, where workers can enjoy a well-stocked recreation center, a gym and fitness room and hot meals as amenities during their stay. (Iain Woessner/The Dickinson Press)

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