Watford City police force growing
Dealing with increased population and higher levels of crime, the Watford City Police Department added three new officers in 2013 and hopes to add three more in the coming year.
With nine fully-trained officers and three in training, Chief Jesse Wellen says he will have better coverage in the city.
Traffic citations were down overall from 2012 to 2013, but Wellen attributes that to a lack of personnel at the beginning of the year.
He said DUIs are up to 365 from 355 last year, and the number of criminal cases his department handled went from 984 in 2012 to 1,012 in 2013.
Wellen said burglary/breaking and entering complaints went from six in 2012 to 24 in 2013, and credit card fraud complaints rose from six to 13.
The department handled 45 cases of simple assault in 2012 and 56 in 2013, while intimidations went from four to 25, stolen property went from 14 to 24, and thefts from buildings rose from 25 to 34.
Motor vehicle thefts increased from 15 in 2012 to 25 in 2013.
— McKenzie County Farmer, Watford City
Divide OKs full-time attorney
Following closely on the heels of McKenzie, Divide is the latest oil patch county to decide it needs a full time state’s attorney.
At a special meeting in December, Divide County Commissioners voted to make the county state’s attorney a full time position.
Commissioners Doug Graupe, Tim Selle and Gerald Brady discussed the need to look at least five years into the county’s future, and all agreed they will need a full-time state’s attorney if the county continues to grow as it has been the last several years.
“The county’s workload is increasing by twice every year,” Brady said.
“It’s really rising fast.”
But, “This is a big step,” he added, requiring office space in the already crowded courthouse, computers, files, etc.
Brady said the county spent roughly $221,000 through December on attorney costs, and he expects higher costs in 2014.
Current State’s Attorney Liz Pendlay declined to accept the full-time position, saying it would be irresponsible to give up her private practice.
— The Journal, Crosby
Pit upsets Mountrail officials
An oilfield waste pit in Mountrail County has been shut down after county commissioners complained that it was located within the wellhead protection area for the city of Ross.
Commissioners first learned of the dry cuttings pit after a landowner asked why he had not been notified that a waste pit was approved so close to where he farms and has livestock.
Commissioners were surprised to learn that state regulators had approved the pit, and they have had difficulty gathering information about why it was approved in the Ross wellhead protection area.
Officials from the Industrial Commission’s Oil and Gas Division said such dry cuttings pits are allowed, but county officials said the state had not been able to produce paper work documenting approval.
The Oil and Gas Division then decided to shut down the pit pending an environmental assessment.
State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms is scheduled to attend the Jan. 7 county commission meeting to discuss the matter.
— Mountrail County Promoter, Stanley
Police clash comes to a head
Disagreements over handling the city police department boiled over at the regular New Town City Council meeting Dec. 18.
Council member Jay Standish and New Town City Police Chief Art Walgren engaged in a vigorous debate over the operation of police department. Standish said he believes that Walgren has been flouting Standish’s authority as his supervisor, and failed to carry out actions as instructed by the council.
Standish said his primary concern was that Walgren hadn’t produced a policy and procedures manual for the department.
He said this opened up the city to liability problems if one of the officers was ever involved in a serious incident.
Walgren responded that he received a grant to develop a manual, but that it is a complicated process.
Standish also said Walgren had soured relations with area law enforcement agencies, especially with the Three Affiliated Tribes Police Department. He also said Walgren was responsible for the high turnover of officers in the department.
— New Town News
Watford City building breaks out
With 2013 building permit activity roughly on par with 2012, Watford City expects even more residential housing, as well as commercial properties, to come on line in 2014.
Steve Williams, the city’s code enforcement officer, said things are starting to happen in Watford City.
“A lot of the development process that began in 2012 came on line in 2013,” Williams said.
In 2013 a lot of residential and commercial properties were completed, and a lot were started, he said, which means that more is on the way in the coming year.
“More single family homes and duplexes came on line this year,” Williams said, “which is kind of what the city has been waiting for.”
In addition to a number of single-family homes, Williams said two hotels, a 42-unit apartment building and two 32-unit apartment buildings came on line, along with a variety of commercial projects
— McKenzie County Farmer, Watford
Bakken hiring boom seen
One company in the Bakken wants to hire 300 employees by spring.
Oil-related companies are on hiring blitzes as the focus in the patch shifts from exploration to production.
Power Fuels, a subsidiary of Nuverra Environmental Solutions and one of the largest oil field service companies in the Bakken, put out its call for 300 new employees going into the holidays.
“We’re excited to significantly boost our employee base in response to the growing demand among energy industry customers for our services,” said Mark Johnsrud, Nuverra’s chief executive officer, in a statement.
Cindy Sanford, Job Service’s Williston customer service manager, said even mid-size companies are hiring, needing 30, 50 or 80 new people.
“We’re starting to get a lot of job orders,” she said. “Come January we’re really going to get hit.”
Needed employees range from commercially-licensed truck drivers and mechanics to support services positions in accounts payable, rental billing, credit and collections, information technology, and human resources.
— Bismarck Tribune
Firefighters breathing easier
It’s something Garrison firefighters didn’t expect to hear – at least for a few years anyway. But when county dispatch directed the Garrison Fire Department to respond to an oil well fire west of Garrison at 12:25 p.m., Dec. 12, a number of firemen took a deep breath, fearing they were about to experience something they had only given a fleeting thought to.
Garrison Fire Chief Bruce Schreiner said his first reaction was to utter an expletive.
As firefighters were barreling down N.D. 37 about 10 miles west of Garrison, county dispatch announced that the oil well fire was not in far western McLean County. Firemen were asked to return to base. The fire was instead across Lake Sakakawea near Mandaree in McKenzie County.
While firefighters breathed a collective sigh of relief, department officials said they know someday, that call will be the real thing.
Having time to digest what went through the minds of firemen that day, Schreiner said the call was a surprise.
— McLean County Independent, Garrison