Watford City tax up for vote
A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote June 10 on the Watford City city sales tax will start a domino effect -- either plummeting planning for city projects or boosting financial aid for future projects. It could go either way.
For nearly 12 years, the Roughrider Fund has been helping Watford City flourish.
The 1 percent city sales tax charged on goods and services will sunset in September. If voters decide not to extend the local sales tax, the Roughrider Committee will no longer have a purpose.
“Without this city sales tax, there is no chance in moving forward,” Jessie Veeder Scofield, a spokesperson for the “Vote Yes” Committee, said.
The committee is proposing that the city sales tax be extended and be raised to 1.5 percent.
Revenues from the tax goes into the Roughrider Fund and are distributed to assist building projects and accommodate growth.
One of the many projects that could be affected by the city sales tax is the Watford City Community Events Center, which is in the design process and is awaiting funding.
McKenzie County Farmer, Watford City
New Tioga plant is a first
North Dakota LNG will begin operations this summer at the new liquefied natural gas plant in Tioga, which is currently under construction.
Patrick Hughes, CEO for NDLNG, said the plant will bring permanent jobs to the Tioga area.
“I think we’ll see 25 to 30 jobs created by the end of the year,” said Hughes.
The plant will be the first of its kind in North Dakota.
The facility will convert natural gas into value-added liquid fuels to be used as an alternative fuel in commercial trucks, farm tractors and other vehicles.
“This is an exciting day for North Dakota,” said Gov. Jack Dalrymple.
“We appreciate North Dakota LNG’s investment in our state’s energy industry and support them in their venture to move North Dakota’s rich natural gas resources into the marketplace.”
Construction will take place in two phases, with the first phase having the capacity to produce 10,000 gallons of liquefied natural gas per day.
The second phase will increase the capacity to 76,000 gallons per day and is expected to be complete in early 2015.
Berthold seeks US 2
With plans for more trains expected on the already heavily-travelled Burlington Northern Santa Fe main line, Berthold city officials are calling for construction of an overpass on U.S. 2.
Mayor Alan Lee said he has suggested to the North Dakota Department of Transportation that an overpass be built so traffic jams don’t result and cause other chaos such as fire, ambulance or police personnel not being able to get through during the time a train is blocking the road.
BNSF tracks cross U.S. 2 just northwest of Berthold near a major Enbridge pipeline terminal.
Lee said the city has been told that BNSF intends to add two oil trains and one grain train daily through Berthold, originating from terminals at Northgate near the Canadian border.
The result, he said, could be that U.S. 2 would be blocked by trains for as much as an hour-and-a-half every day.
DOT Director Grant Levi acknowledged there are transportation needs in the Berthold area and said the DOT team is currently monitoring that U.S. 2 railroad crossing.
Canada’s Bakken booms
The Bakken oil boom doesn’t end at the Canadian border, a point driven home last week when Michel Cyrenne, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce in Estevan, Saskatchewan, spoke to an economic development luncheon in Crosby.
Estevan bills itself as Saskatchewan’s “Energy City,” and based on what Cyrenne had to say, that’s an accurate description.
The oil and gas industry provides some 2,500 jobs in Estevan, he said, while another 800 people work in mining and power generation.
Cyrenne tracked the number of oil wells around Estevan over time, watching well numbers jump from 2,700 in 2010 to 3,200 in 2011. This growth topped out in 2012, with 3,500 wells. Since then, oil well numbers have been declining.
The biggest change he tracked in the oil industry is in the direction wells are drilled. In 2006, drilling began to go horizontal. Between 2009 and 2013, horizontal well numbers rose from 59 percent of the total to 80 percent.
The Journal, Crosby
New Town schools
New Town Public Schools haven’t grown like other schools around the Bakken.
Part of the reason is that New Town had a housing shortage that predates the oil boom and has only gotten worse, said School Superintendent Marc Bluestone.
That could change in the next few years, he said, and the school district needs to be ready for it.
“There are at least 90 new units that are going to be built this summer,” Bluestone said. “Many of those homes are going to go to families with children. We could see a lot of new kids in the future.”
Bluestone laid out this future recently at a sparsely attended public planning meeting.
The school district has been adding new buildings the last few years, funded by lease and royalty payments that the school receives for oil and gas drilling under Lake Sakakawea. These payments, amounting to millions of dollars a year, have been devoted to capitol projects including a new high school building and gymnasium. The district plans to start work on a new vocational education building in the fall.
“With all our new construction, the high school and middle school are in good shape to handle an influx of new students,” Bluestone said. “The elementary school, not so much.”
New Town News
Killdeer plans aquatics center
Killdeer’s proposed aquatics center could carry a hefty price tag possibly totaling several million dollars.
Jeff Hysjulien, a representative for JLG Architects, said there have been two public input sessions to gather information on what residents would like to see in a Killdeer Aquatics Center.
Hysjulien listened to what citizens wanted and offered suggestions as to what could be possible for Killdeer.
Parents strongly favorably about plans for a safe place to take their children, including an enclosed building with extra space for children’s birthday parties or gatherings.
Cost was a primary concern.
“Construction costs in western North Dakota are very, very chancy right now,” Hysjulien said.
It is estimated that the building costs will run approximately $300 per square-foot. Estimates for three different options are $2.9 million, $4.4 million and $7.8 million.
Dunn County Record