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Williston Officials Work To Keep Up With Rapid Growth

May 14, 2014, 6:24 PM by Kevin Woster

Williston Officials Work To Keep Up With Rapid Growth

The oil boom in northwest North Dakota is drawing thousands of job hunters to the city of Williston, where work is plentiful and wages are high. 

Steve Hopkins came to Williston looking for a better-paying job. He might just find a life here, too.

"That's my number one goal is just make it through the first two or three years and if the development is continuing and I find some great opportunities here then I would seriously consider staying, yes," Hopkins said.

First, he needs a place to work. He also needs a place to sleep, other than his car. With $100 in his pocket and sky-high housing costs that was his only option.

"I'm aware that there are plenty of people around here doing the same thing," Hopkins says.

He'll have a job soon. They're everywhere in Williston, which doubled in size in four years, overwhelming the city's infrastructure. City officials are hustling to catch up.  A new city recreation center just opened and work on a $625-million infrastructure plan is underway.

"Williston is kind of like remodeling your kitchen," City economic official Shawn Wenko said. "It's pretty stressful right now. You're doing your dishes in the bathtub, cooking on a hot plate. Not the most ideal situation. But when we get through this thing, we're going to have a pretty nice kitchen here."

Hopkins might stay around to see it.

"It's bigger and busier than I was expecting. And it's a great place," Hopkins said.  "I was just at the Williston ARC, the area rec center and it's a great building. It opened about a month ago and it's an amazing facility. And they're working on the state college."

There's a lot to look forward to, including sleeping in a bed without wheels.

Community leaders expect housing problems will improve with upcoming building projects. They say retail and other business sectors are also catching up with the oil boom as the city adjusts to the fast economic growth.

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