Bakken Oil Issues and Law Enforcement Concerns

A generalized comment that comes from above the Bakken formation (at ground level) often goes something like, “Our entire way of life is changing out here in western North Dakota.” While those of us not above the Bakken are indeed concerned about this, we often do not understand the specifics of what exactly is changing. The following list came from a discussion that took place with the North Dakota Sheriff’s & Deputies Association in Bismarck, and they itemized many of those specifics. It is the good, the bad, the realistic, and the not so good looking. My comments and interpretations are [imbedded in brackets] like these. Props to our civil servants that are the sheriffs and deputies.

1. Currently there are a total of 84 companies involved in the oil industry in western ND.

2. It takes between 2000 and 2200 semi loads of water per well. Currently there are 258 wells in progress with so many scheduled it is hard to determine the exact amount.

3. Traffic accidents, especially fatal traffic accidents are of very high concern. At one location on Highway 85 south of Williston, a traffic count was conducted in October of 2011. In one 24 hour period of time there were 29,000 vehicles through the intersection looked at with 60% of the traffic being semis.

4. Traffic is typically backed up for ½ to ¾ of a mile. One of the guys stated that one day last week he sat at an intersection on Highway 85 for about 30 minutes to get a big enough opening to cross over.

5. They have closed the weigh scale house because it was causing such a traffic jam that it was closing the roadway.

6. Rent in Williston currently is: $ 2000 for a one bedroom to $ 3400 for a three bedroom.

7. They have no more hook ups for campers any where in the area.

8. Williams County allows three campers per farmstead; the farmers almost all have three campers on their property and are charging $ 800 per camper per month for rent.

9. Wal Mart in Williston no longer stocks shelves. They bring out pallets of merchandise at night, and set it in the isles. People then take what they want off the pallets.

10. On 1-1-12, the Williston Wal Mart had 148 campers overnight in their parking lot.

11. Willams County wrecked a pickup and ended up bringing it to Bismarck for repairs because there no available body shops to do the work. Williams County has purchased a trailer and has started to bring vehicles to the Bismarck area for repairs. Willaims County took a pickup in for ball joints and front brakes — the shop charged them $ 2800 for the repairs.

12. Williston and Williams County now produces more taxable sales than any other area in ND [including Cass County, which is huge].

13. The Williams County jail has increased booking by 150%. With a 100% increase in inmate population. Bonds of $ 5k to $ 10 K are typically paid with cash out of pocket. The Williams County Sheriff stated that a couple of weeks ago he received a $ 63,000 bond in cash carried into the jail in a plastic Wal Mart bag.

14. Williams County Sheriff’s Department has more than doubled in staff over the last two years. They are now buying trailer houses that come up for sale to rent to newly hired deputies.

15. Williams County new starting salary with the academy is $ 46,000 plus 100% of all benefits paid.

16. They are in a continuous hiring cycle and they have no set budget at this time. The Sheriff has been told to manage his office to the best of his abilities and keep the Commission updated, but do not worry about the budget.

17. The Williston McDonalds just announced that they will pay $ 15 an hour, a $ 500 immediate sign on bonus and a single medical plan paid for.

18. The restaurants are full and with limited staff to work in them. They usually just have the drive through open. The restaurants that have inside seating are now an hour wait at all times.

19. Law Enforcement in the Williams County area cannot provide training to staff due to time constraints and no location to hold training.

20. The local Motel 6 in Williston now rents rooms fro $ 129.95 per night.

21. Law Enforcement no longer does any proactive work (school programs, community services, house checks) they do very little traffic related issues as well. They just go from call to call. Bar fights are one of the biggest issues.

22. Other law enforcement issues include the strip clubs. The local clubs have now started what is called “babe buses”. These buses go out to areas and pick up people and bus them back and forth to the strip clubs. The buses have poles on them as well as live entertainment.

23. Drug problems are immense, and they are seeing narcotics that they have never seen in the area before, like black tar heroin [black tar heroin may appear in the historical record].

24. The civil process section of the Sheriff’s Department use to average 1800 papers a year. They are now doing 4500 processes a year.

25. Law Enforcement said that they make as many Driving under the influence arrest at 10 Am as they do at midnight.

26. Illegal aliens have become a huge problem, especially getting the proper authorities to remove them from the Country.

27. The current thought from the oil companies is that the area will continue to grow as it has over the past two years for the next five years and stay for ten years. At the end of the ten years they feel the communities will drop in population somewhat.

28. The current thought is that the oil companies will be drilling wells on every 1280 acres of leased land. This way they have tied up the land and do not have to release the property.

29. The Williston General Motors dealership has now become the number 1 seller of Corvettes in the upper Midwest.

30. The bigger oil companies are doing very well in hiring good people. They run checks and make sure the people they hire are drug free; it is the smaller companies that are having trouble-hiring people that will look the other way on hiring issues [it is difficult for start-up businesses to get a foot-hold in the face of competition of the huge companies].

31. They said they do not know anybody anymore. The Sheriff of Williams County used to be able to go to Wal Mart and not walk very far without knowing somebody. Now he does not know any of the people in there.

32. Many of the local citizens are taking retirement and moving out of the area.

33. They have an extreme amount of alcohol abuse going on. They have more calls than ever of drunk people trying to get into houses, to find out they are at the wrong place.

34. Minot population has grown by a projected 9000 people since the completion of the census. Minot is expecting to reach a population of 75,000 in the nest five years.

35. Trinity Hospital in Minot has just hired 115 nurses from the Philippians to work at the hospital, as they cannot get enough local nurses to apply.


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