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Watford City camp houses county government workers

WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) — While crew camps for oil field workers have become common in western North Dakota in recent years, Watford City is home to a unique camp — one for county government workers.

County workers have moved their offices to five mobile homes at the fairgrounds on the outskirts of town. They will be there for up to a year while the McKenzie County Courthouse is renovated and expanded, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

All county offices except the sheriff’s department and clerk of court have moved to the double- and triple-wide trailers.

“I’m hoping it won’t be a pain for the public,” Treasurer Cheryl Grantier said. “I think once we get everything set up, it will be OK.”

The number of county employees has grown along with the oil boom — from 130 to 160 in the past year alone. Cramped quarters for workers prompted the courthouse expansion.

Auditor Linda Svihovec said placing county workers in buildings around town — such as a former wellness building and a former grocery store — might have confused the public and caused parking problems.

Jerry Samuelson, the county’s emergency manager and veterans’ officer, is tucked into a small office in one trailer. It’s the price to pay for progress in western North Dakota, he said.

“It’ll be fine,” Samuelson said. “It’ll have to be.”

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