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Dealing with the impacts of the Bakken development

Northwest North Dakota is dealing with the impacts of the current Bakken boom. And a panel discussion was held at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference to deal with those impacts. Prairie Public's Dave Thompson has the story.

Williston Mayor Ward Koeser says all in all, his city is fairing well in the oil boom.

"Do we do everything right? I'm not certain that we do," said Koeser.  "We try hard -- we've got a great team. We talk about the three things we need -- planning, people and partnerships.”

Koeser says there are needs yet to be met – including housing and infrastructure. He says that means more help from the state.

"My quick answer -- I wish there could be more," said Koeser. "I will say this -- they certainly have been listening. And we're just really optimistic that, when we go to this next session, there will be dollars to help communities like Williston."

The executive director of the Wyoming County Commissioners’ Association says North Dakota can learn from how Wyoming handles the oil boom. Cindy DeLancey says communication is the key.

"Knowledge is power," said DeLancey. "We have to develop those strong working replationships between the community, the state, the Legislature, the Governor's office and industry. There's a lot of value in being pro-active., and putting your heads together to find reasonable solutions to problems."

DeLancey says when she worked as a county prosecutor, she saw the impacts first-hand. She says one of the frustrations was the delay in getting the resources to deal with the impacts.

"And that's where communication was so key," said DeLancey. "They (lawmakers and state government) understood. They took the time to listen, and to try to find the resources to help us."

Koeser says he would like to see the oil and gas impact formulas changed – so cities can use the money for more than just infrastructure. He says his city needs more money to operate – because it had to add staff to help take care of the needs.

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