Town Hall meeting – oil good and bad

Questions about the oil – good, bad and in between, highlighted the town hall meeting sponsored by Vision West ND Thursday evening.
By JAMIE SPAINHOWER

Record Editor

 Posted June 29, 2012

Questions about the oil – good, bad and in between, highlighted the town hall meeting sponsored by Vision West ND Thursday evening.

A group was in Hettinger Thursday, Friday and Saturday to conduct “Planner Week” which brought together several representatives from various economic development groups to formulate a plan addressing the needs of Adams County and the region.

“We cover 29 counties, the largest in the sate,” said Shirley Brentrup, executive director SW REAP. “We have a partnership between the department of transportation, HUD and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency.” Brentrup is the overall project manager.

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities works together to help cross over borders, ways funds can be used and Brentrup said she thinks the program is a precursor to the “way things are to come, especially as federal dollars dwindle.”

Individually, towns and counties often don’t have the necessary numbers needed to qualify for various federal grants. By different agencies working together, having a regional plan that can be taken to the Legislature and the federal government, it will give them a better shot at receiving grants in the future, explained Deb Nelson, program manager for DLN Consulting of Dickinson. She has been contracted to do the day-to-day project management of the program.

“Every point helps when applying for federal dollars,” said Nelson.

Karalee Cox was the moderator, asking the questions needed to get the plan completed.

“I apply for grant funding, and work for Building Communities,” she said. “I am here to guide the group in 25 proven strategies, from value added agriculture to tourism, and find out from the perspective of the community what is wants and what it feels is achievable.”

 

The buzzword in Adams County currently is all about the oil. If it comes, or not, and how the community will survive.

Currently, the only leasing of mineral rights are state owned, but the county is seeing some of the trickle down affects of the activity further north with increasing truck traffic and people moving into the area as housing becomes unavailable and more expensive closer to the fields.

Cox asked for specific concerns and ideas about the oil so the steering committee couple put together a plan on Friday dealing with the issue.

“I think we’re in a good spot now,” said an audience member. “We are benefiting somewhat without any of the major problems.”

The main concerns voiced were about housing shortage and traffic. Future infrastructure needs, zoning issues and the availability of planned buildings were topics needing immediate discussion.

 

Infrastructure

The cities and county face more than just road issues when it comes to infrastructure. It is also about people in the communities and the type of workforce they provide.

Law enforcement, teachers, medical professionals and daycare providers in addition to volunteer fire departments and emergency responders are a vital part of the infrastructure impacted by rapid growth.

There are also some unexpected spin-offs to obvious issues. For example, said Cox, in Killdeer there is a huge increase in truck traffic on Main Street.

“What wasn’t thought of in this equation was the children can’t cross the street safely to get to school,” she said. So, the students are literally bussed across the street from one side to the other.

Discussion was held about a possible truck route going around Hettinger, to avoid the traffic that would occur at the major intersections.

By the time the steering committee wrapped up Friday afternoon, 11 items of highest importance had been identified, including affordable housing, daycare, youth activities and traffic.

“One thing is Hettinger and Adams County will get an infrastructure assessment, which will provide a comprehensive look at the roads, streets and water system,” said Brentrup. “This includes what is needed now and what to watch for in the future.”

The assessment is valued at about $15,000, and Vision West ND will be paying for it.

For more information on the project and how it is implemented, visit www.visionwestnd.com.