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Freedom Monument dedication draws crowd, despite rain

The rain and the cold wasn’t enough to stop people from coming out in droves to be a part of the Freedom Monument’s dedication on Wednesday night.

As the rain poured down, hundreds huddled together under a canopy near Riverview Cemetery, site of the Freedom Monument, for the memorial’s dedication on Wednesday, Sept. 11. The weather wasn’t dissuading anyone, as many stood wherever they could find a free space, just to be a part of the event. Throughout the crowd, veterans from every branch stood with their fellow citizens, listening to the words spoken by Military Affairs chairman Grant Carns, Co-chair Steve Slocum, Mayor Howard Klug and special guest, Command Master Chief Tim Preabt.

Slocum outlined the history of the monument, from the first idea about creating a post-Vietnam memorial in 2006, to $100,000 donation from the Williston Community Builders that allowed construction to begin.

“Ideas are a dime a dozen,” Slocum told the crowd. “But the committee’s problem wasn’t the idea, it was the dime.”

After years of raising funds and receiving private donations, the monument was ready to be built. Carns and Slocum told the Williston Herald that the road to getting the memorial financed was a long one, but that both were excited for the final unveiling. The last pieces of the monument, the world map and the interactive kiosk, were completed earlier this week. Many were getting their first look at the completed monument at Wednesday’s ceremony.

“I encourage all of you to come back on one of our sunny days in the city of Williston,” Klug told the audience, “Come back up here and walk this plaza, and reflect on what these monuments are here for, who they honor and what they mean to you.”

Preabt, who is a North Dakota native and first chief of the USS North Dakota, said he was honored to be part of the dedication, especially on September 11, such a significant day in history for all Americans. Preabt said he has always been proud of North Dakota’s support of its military members, and the monument is a testament to that support.

“North Dakota has always shown great support for our service members and our veterans,” he said. “So when it came to finding the proper way to show our respect for those who have served since 1975, it should not surprise anyone that so many people would step up and make this vision a reality as we see here tonight.”

It’s an inspiration, Preabt added.

“I’ve seen many monuments in my life, and when they talked to me about this one, I could envision it,” he said. “But it wasn’t until today that I actually saw it. Williston, you should be so proud of what you have that so many other communities don’t. This will be an inspiration for many to follow.”

The continuing downpour also did not stop any of those in attendance from getting a closer look at the monument at the ceremony’s conclusion. Many posed for pictures and stayed to study the memorial’s craftsmanship. Carns, Slocum and others who were involved were meanwhile inundated with well wishers, shaking hands and thanking them for their work in making the monument a reality. Even as the already darkened sky faded to the blackness of night, the illuminated flag stood as a beacon in the night, beckoning visitors to come honor and remember those who have served.

Renée Jean • Williston Herald  

And the winner is .... Fischer Family Chiropractic for Best of the Bakken — Chiropractor. That was one of many awards given out Thursday night for the event put on by the Williston Herald to salute the best of the region. We’ll have a complete report on the event and all the awards won in Sunday’s edition of the Williston Herald.

Photos by Renée Jean • Williston Herald  

ABOVE: And the winner is .... Fischer Family Chiropractic for Best of the Bakken — Chiropractor. That was one of many awards given out Thursday night. We’ll have a complete report on the event and all the awards won in Sunday’s edition of the Williston Herald.

BELOW: Mack Schroer works on cartoon illustrations during Thursday night’s Best of the Bakken event, sponsored by the Williston Herald to salute the best of what the region has to offer.

As Oil Patch rental rates rise, so too apartment complex sales

Rental rates in the Bakken have risen 28 to 32 percent over the past year, according to market research done by Energy Real Estate Solutions, a full-service commercial real estate firm in the Bakken that also serves North American, South American and Caribbean energy and opportunistic markets. Meanwhile, the sales price for large apartment complexes continues to be below the cost of new construction, according to a broker with the firm, Mike Elliott.

Those trends are fueling a rise in the sale of large apartment complexes in North Dakota’s Oil Patch.

Elliott told the Williston Herald that his firm has closed 67 transactions in the first six months of 2019. These deals included large apartment complexes as well as industrial rental properties.

Among these was an industrial property on Owan Industrial Park Drive totaling 72,746 square feet and 7.76 acres across three buildings that closed on Aug. 15. There was also a 97,376 square-foot property with 9.50 acres across four buildings in both Minot and Williston that closed in July.

Helping such sales to happen is the return of not only private equity to the Bakken market, but institutional capital as well, Elliott said.

“Even 12 months ago, no banks, very few banks, were lending in North Dakota,” he said. “But we are seeing more banks and institutional banks and debt providers lending today than they were.”

Elliott added that the sale of apartment complexes has been boosted by activity in the oilfield, which has been bringing more workers back for Bakken jobs. That trend has shrunk vacancies to 6 percent, according to data from ERES, and fueled a big rise in rental rates.

“Multifamily rental rates have risen 30 percent the last two years in a row,” Elliott said. “Values are going up faster in North Dakota than anywhere else in the country.”

Industrial rents, too, are rising, Elliott said.

Rising rental rates mean an increase to a property’s market value, which gives banks more security to come in and provide loans.

Elliott believes the optimal entry point for those who wanted in on the ground floor of the Bakken real estate game was probably 12 to 18 months ago, but, at that time, access to capital for deals in the Bakken was short.

Things are a bit easier now that there are more options for debt, he said.

Meanwhile, media reports about the Bakken have kept some investors wary of the market — but those reports haven’t necessarily painted a true picture of opportunities in any of the nation’s oil patches, Elliott said.

“That was the frustrating thing for us in the real estate business,” he said. “(Investors) would hear the Wall Street Journal saying one thing and they’d hear from us boots on the ground saying something else. The Wall Street Journal isn’t walking around in Williston.”

The only soft spot Elliott is seeing right now is land.

“Developers haven’t come back yet,” he said. “And the reason they have not is that you can buy properties today below the cost of construction.”

Mondak Animal Rescue celebrates 21st Annual Dog Jog at Spring Lake Park

It’s time once again to grab your four-legged friends and head to Spring Lake Park for the Mondak Animal Rescue’s annual pet-tacular event!

The 21st Annual Dog Jog is taking place on Saturday, Sept. 14 at the park, and pet-owners and community members alike are invited to come out for fun, food and prizes throughout the day. Mondak Animal Rescue Director Tamara Rooks said the event is a great way to get people together not just for a fun afternoon, but to help shine a spotlight on the rescue animals in the region.

“The Dog Jog brings the entire community together with their pets to raise awareness for the dire need of all the rescue pets in the entire Mondak Region,” Rooks told the Williston Herald.

The event kicks off with registration at 10 a.m., and the walk beginning at 11 a.m.

At 11:30 a.m., there is a free-will donation barbecue of hamburgers and hot dogs for the public to enjoy, as well as Jump-N-Fun Inflatables and face painting for the kids. Vendors will be on-site at the park sharing their crafts and goods, along with a silent auction to help raise funds for the shelter. Rooks said money raised during the event will go toward operations costs for the shelter.

“Our facility needs operations funds,” Rooks said. “The money we raise is strictly going towards the care of these animals. These funds are not for employees, not for bills, not for anything like that. It all goes back to the animals.”

At noon, prizes and winners will be announced for the top pledge winner, followed by the pet costume contest at 12:30 p.m.

The Dog Jog is one of the year’s biggest fundraisers for the Buck Scheele Family Animal Center, which held its grand opening in April. Prior to the shelter’s opening, Rooks and other staff members were sheltering animals in their own homes.

Now, the Mondak Animal Rescuse has a large state-of-the-art facility to help care for animals in need throughout the region.

School districts set new joint board meeting to discuss enrollments

Williston Public School District No. 1 and Williams County School District No. 8 have set another joint board meeting to discuss school enrollments.

The joint meeting will follow District No. 1’s regular meeting, which is 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16 at the District’s office. There will be budget discussions and presentations from the Coyote Academy and Innovation Academy. Each of the three presentations will be between five to 10 minutes.

The joint board meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m. in the Bakken Elementary School Auditorium. The discussion at the meeting will be continued enrollment of District 8 students at Williston High School.