User uShare Login | Register
Login
Register

Along with posting photos, videos, and stories, your uShare account lets you post Classified Ads, recipes on What's For Dinner, and Announcements.


-7° View Weather Current Conditions Sioux Falls Change Location
Set Weather Options

RADAR LOCATION

TEMPERATURE LOCATION

Report conditions in your area, send photos to ushare@keloland.com

KELOLAND.com | Sioux Falls News & Weather, South Dakota News & Weather, Minnesota and Iowa News

[0] My Saved Articles
Find local businesses
on the KELO Pages!

 

What's Coming Down The Pipe?

February 5, 2012, 9:55 PM by Derek Olson

What's Coming Down The Pipe?
The oil boom in western North Dakota has been great news for the state, but also lent itself to inflation and higher crime.

That prompted the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce to hold a meeting to discuss how western South Dakota can benefit from the activity while avoiding its pitfalls.

It was standing room only at the Belle Fourche Community Center last Thursday, as people gathered to listen to a panel of North Dakota experts talk about the oil boom taking place near Williston.

"Probably 500 people showed up here tonight. And that says that there are a lot of people that are interested in the topic, that care about western South Dakota, and want to know what could potentially happen to this part of the state. And I think that's a great thing," PUC Commissioner Chris Nelson said.

"I was blown away by the crowd and the people who were here. And I'm glad they came because it shows that the surrounding communities and the people who live here are interested and they do care," Belle Fourche resident Charlie Johnson said.

The sudden influx of workers and wealth that came along with the explosion in oil production caught many North Dakotans off guard.

"The number of workers that are coming in would be beyond what we had ever expected in the early years of this activity taking off," North Dakota Economic Development and Finance Director Paul Lucy said.

But that increase in workers had some unintended consequences: increasing crime rates, rampant inflation, and a major housing crisis.

"One of the issues that we are working to resolve is the availability of sufficient housing for all of the workers who are coming into the region," Lucy said.

A January report from the North Dakota Sheriff's and Deputies Association claims that it costs around $2,000 per month to rent a one bedroom apartment in Williston if you can find one.

"It's certainly a supply and demand issue. And as we see more housing being put in place, both temporary and permanent, we will most likely see some of those prices coming down," Lucy said.

But instead of focusing on North Dakota's troubles, this meeting was about learning from their mistakes, so South Dakota can be ready if the oil wells move south.

"The oil is not here yet, and people are saying, "When's it coming? When's it coming?" We can't answer that. The state can't even answer that yet. However, it still doesn't hurt to be working out some of the bugs ahead of time so that we do everything in a proactive way," Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Teresa Schanzenbach said.

"Folks need to be prepared for that kind of explosive, overnight growth," Nelson said.

And, overall, the message in Belle Fourche was a positive one.

"We've had a budget surplus for a number of years and so the oil activity has just helped to supplement that surplus," Lucy said.

"What we heard tonight, repeatedly, is that there's plenty of economic development to go around. We're all a big team in this," Rapid City's Mayor Sam Kooiker said.

And although there were more questions here than could be answered in one evening, it's the beginning of a public dialogue on what the area's future will look like.

"This is just the beginning of what will probably be a very long process. Communication is key. There is a lot of misinformation and people who are worried about what's going to happen and they're not hearing what's really happening. So I think it's really important that we keep the dialogue going," Schanzenbach said.

"It's really exciting, and we need to be prepared for it. We need to welcome it. We need to embrace it. We also need to go into it with eyes wide open, knowing that there are risks. But with opportunity, there always are risks," Kooiker said.

Previous Story

Next Story


Comments





Sponsored
Find Local Businesses on KELO Pages!

View featured stories

You may also like

South Dakota's Top Tax Debts

2/20/2015 10:01 PM

Tucked in one of the most remote corners of Mellette County, and in one of the smallest towns in South Dakota sits one of the biggest tax evaders in t...

Full Story | Watch
Native Americans Seek Reconciliation Despite Controversial Criminal Charge

2/22/2015 10:17 PM

When a criminal charge finally came last week on an incident at a Rapid City hockey came, the reaction of many Native Americans ranged from disappoint...

Full Story | Watch
The Dark Side Of Boomtown

2/24/2015 10:00 PM

The Bakken Oilfields in North Dakota have become a black goldmine. Thousands are flocking to the area to cash in. Yet, a boom of people has also ...

Full Story | Watch
Sex Trafficking Stopover

2/23/2015 10:10 PM

"It has arrived here in South Dakota and it's serious," Attorney General Marty Jackely said.

Full Story | Watch
Agencies Benefit From Drug Control Fund

2/25/2015 10:13 PM

South Dakota law enforcement agencies are benefiting from drug money taken right off the streets. 

Full Story | Watch


Events