Keep in mind as we move closer to Winter that road conditions can be dangerous. Always keep track of what the current conditions are through nd.gov . Be safe and travel smart.
Keep in mind as we move closer to Winter that road conditions can be dangerous. Always keep track of what the current conditions are through nd.gov . Be safe and travel smart.
I work often in Fargo. The first time I made this trip there was a huge billboard that simply said, BE NICE. I loved it. I loved it so much I got off at the next exit and came back again so I could get a picture. It is quintessential North Dakota. Anyone living here knows about these signs but is North Dakota too nice?
John Oliver put North Dakota front and center during a recent taping of his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight”.
Before you get offended, he makes a great point. North Dakota just may be too nice. He hits the nail on the head when he speaks about the endearing charm of small town America. Maybe take a few moments and watch the video. I would love your opinion.
“What the hell has just happened to North Dakota? For all the good that the oil industry has done to the state, it has not been without cost.”
He makes a point of saying that North Dakota over the years has gotten used to being ignored. Coming from someone who has lived there I rather think that people prefer it that way. They don’t want their secret out and who can blame them. There are so few places left in the country quite like this often cold northern state.
With activity slowing down in the region, we have seen the active drill rigs reduce down to 68 currently compared to the 190 this same time last year. That’s significant. Personally, I feel things will come back again but it will come back slowly. It’s a much needed breather for an area that has had to deal with huge surges of people and businesses and all of the issues that come along with them. The area has had a difficult time keeping up with the pace. Imagine the ebb and flow of the ocean. You just keep getting hit with wave after wave after wave and sometimes you can hardly catch your breath before another one hits.
There should be balance in life. In our personal lives and in our environment. Yes, the oil industry has brought prosperity, jobs and opportunity. One person’s prosperity though should not have a negative effect on someone else. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can have both, it takes personal responsibility for private citizens and businesses alike. According to some reports, the Bakken claims the life of someone every six weeks (on average). In the video John Oliver makes the claim that there are only 8 compliance officers for OSHA inspecting sites for both South and North Dakota. A number that does not even begin to meet the actual demand.
He specifically speaks about the death of Brendan Wegner and the accident that claimed his life along with Ray Hardy. Several others were also injured (one of whom later committed suicide). The well where the accident occurred was owned by Oasis Petroleum but because of how it was structured, none of the men working on this well actually were considered employed by Oasis so they were not found at fault. I’ll let you read about that accident and decide for yourself.
Do you live in North Dakota? What do you think about the penalties that companies are given when something happens?
My only real complaint about the video? His pronunciation of Bakken.
So it’s time to share my secrets with you. Sadly with things slowing down, it seems more people are leaving rather than coming to North Dakota. Either way if you are moving a family in or out, you are probably struggling with some logistical issues. North Dakota is not exactly easy to get to. Ok, maybe it is easy to get to but it’s not a place commonly driven through so finding someone to help you move that can just add it to their route is not going to be easy. I’m going to share with you how we did it. Our regular readers know that we moved just about everything with us. We left one storage unit behind but the rest came with. Moving a household is not easy. I’ve done it so much that I feel I should be a moving consultant. I know how to pack boxes efficiently, I know how to maximize space in a truck, I know how to find a better deal on the cost associated with moving. I’m going to offer my advice in parts. This part is going to deal with physical act of packing your home. In my next article we will tackle how to find that truck.
First things, first. This article is aimed at families, not individuals. While these things may work for an individual with minimal stuff, I am really appealing to those like me who have things that must come with. A houseful of furniture, art, a home office, and if your husband is anything like mine, a houseful of electronics.
Moving a household causes me to go through many stages, much like the stages of grief. There is anxiety, depression, anger, sadness…. oh it’s all there. Once the worst of that is over and I have accepted my fate, this is what I do.
1. Get your supplies ready. For me this includes moving boxes, wrapping plastic, sharpie markers, Ziploc baggies, Tupperware containers, wrapping paper (newspaper is fine but remember the ink will smudge) and wrapping tape. We get most of this at U-Haul. If you have time you can look around Craigslist to try and save some money. I never wanted to take the time to do that so U-Haul works for us plus it’s easy to bring back unused boxes. One thing that is crucial is the wrapping plastic. I used it for absolutely everything and I cannot move without it. Also, collect all blankets, comforters and towels that you do not need to use before the move and put aside. You are going to need everyone one of those.
2. Pick a day. Wake up earlier than everyone else. Brew a pot of coffee. Basically I go from room to room. I sit down with my coffee and a pen and notebook and begin to make notes based on what I see. What can I get rid of. There are always things to get rid of. I have pieces of furniture (like the one pictured) that I know I want to keep. There are others that can be replaced easily. Figure out what you want to keep, what you want to get rid of. Another thing that is a MUST if you are going to have someone else pack your things or move your belongings is to inventory what you are taking. Take pictures as well. If you have things that are valuable or cannot be replaced, document them. If the worst happens and something is stolen or your truck gets in an accident, you are going to be glad that you can accurately and specifically detail what you have.
2. Get two dedicated Tupperware containers, One should be 2′ x 1′ and preferably with a handle and the other should be about a lunchbox size, also with a handle. The purpose of the larger one is going to be for hardware, plugs, cables and anything you need to assume furniture as you unpack. If you take apart a bed and have a handful of bolts and screws place those in a Ziploc baggie. Use a sharpie to mark that bag regarding it’s contents. Make sure it’s secure and put it in the Tupperware container. Do this for special cables that you may need, your Wifi set up, electrical outlet plug covers, extension cords, even Allen wrenches. The smaller one is for medicines that will stay with you. Keep your medicine in there and anything your children and pets might need on the road. Don’t forget things like earplugs and cough medicine. Better to be safe than sorry.
3. Get a folder that can snap shut. In this I put all my important paperwork that will travel with me. Birth Certificates, car titles, social security cards, passports, ID’s. Anything you might need to apply for a loan, get a job, rent a place or register your children for school. Make sure you have it on you when you travel.
4. At this point you need to determine if you are going to need a storage unit. In an ideal world it would have been best if everything could come with us but because we had a business involved, we had to be strategic. So for us, we needed a storage unit. So for us, after we figured out what would be donated, we then had to make a list of what would be left behind in storage. Those are the things I packed first.
5. Find a dedicated space in your home where you can put packed boxes and wrapped furniture. For us we had a long living room/dining room. So we took one half, moved out all the furniture and started putting all our freshly packed things in this area.
6. Wrap everything on the walls first. Personally I have a lot of art, particularly canvas paintings with some glass framed prints. These are probably the most time consuming to wrap correctly. It’s a pain and it’s time consuming but the way I look at it is if I’m not willing to take the time and energy to wrap these correctly, what was the point of investing all that money? I have one really big piece of art that is not framed (see picture) so for this one I got a full size mattress box and cut it down so that the entire thing was enclosed and protected from dirt. You still need to be aware of pieces like this when you pack the truck or if you have movers doing it, make sure to put red tape on these pieces so that they know to see you about them. Don’t assume a mover will pack it correctly, supervise your special pieces.
For small pieces that are framed (with or without glass) I use some of those blankets and comforters I referenced earlier along with that plastic wrap. What we would do is lay one of the blankets down and fold it in half. Lay the artwork on top and wrap like you would a present. Using an extra person, carefully use the stretch plastic and wrap the whole thing. It may sound silly but you be amazed at how solid it feels and how well it protects everything.
7. Let’s tackle a closet or two. The very first thing I do is determine what can be donated. If there is one good thing about moving, it forces me to evaluate what I have and from there we end up donating car loads of things. Toys, clothing, furniture, kitchen stuff… whatever we have not used in a while must go. After I have gone through and pulled things to donate, I then determine what exactly I’m going to need to wear between then and the time we actually are getting on the road. Make sure to consider not just the weather where you are but the weather while traveling and what it will be like when you reach your destination. Make sure to take this into consideration with your shoes as well. Don’t leave out only sandals if you are headed into a cold state. It may take a while to unpack that truck and find your boots.
Put aside the clothes you are going to keep out until the end. From the rest pack only the pieces that are higher end or delicate. The rest I actually use for packing breakables. Instead of buying a bunch of bubble wrap I use t-shirts, sweatshirts and sweaters so soften my boxes. Sounds odd I know but it works. I’ve been doing this since we started moving every few years for the military. I never allowed anyone to wrap the contents of my home, I have always done it myself. This is one of my favorite tricks.
Start by assembling a box. Put a few pieces of clothing on the bottom and then wrap your breakables in more clothing and place carefully in the box. That’s it. I do this for pieces of art glass, figurines, pottery, anything that is breakable. I even use this method when wrapping small electronics like Blu ray players and alarm clocks. The only thing I don’t use this method on would be my kitchen dishes and glassware. Everything else gets wrapped with clothing. If you are worried this is going to be a jumbled mess when you get to your destination, fear not. If you’re like me, you wash all your clothes anyway.
8. Make sure to label every single box as you close them up.
9. What about those big TV’s? I do the same thing with them that I did with the artwork. I use blankets and comforters to wrap them and then I wrap it very well with the green wrapping plastic. I’ll repeat what I did for the art though, make sure that you pay attention to how these are placed in the truck. We always made sure that the TV’s were placed upright and along the side.
10. When it comes to larger pieces of furniture with doors I do one of two things. Some of my furniture like the large one pictured above have doors that pop off. Nothing to remove, it’s just the way the Germans engineer them (and it’s fabulous). So for those I take the door off and wrap them like I do my paintings. For those pieces like dressers where the doors and drawers don’t necessarily come out (and you wouldn’t want to take the drawers out anyway), I use the plastic wrap here. I wrap the entire piece of furniture with it, over the drawers so they won’t open until I cut that plastic away. It also helps protect the furniture itself. For more delicate or carved furniture, I might wrap sections in a blanket and then wrap in the plastic.
11. Remove all legs from your tables. Don’t try to move them without taking the legs off. You’ll ruin that piece.
12. The kitchen. The single most difficult room for me to deal with. In part because we will need to use it up until the day we leave and in part because I have more kitchen stuff than anyone I know. I use wrapping paper for this job (you can get a 10 pound box at uhaul). I wrap each glass individually and each plate individually. For the plates you will want to put something in between them like a small piece of cardboard maybe.
13. Clean Clean Clean as you go. If you think you’ll pack up everything and then just clean the house or apartment last minute, you’re kidding yourself. If you want to do a good job, clean as you go. As you pack the bathroom, scrub it down completely. You may still need to quickly go over it at the end but at least the deep cleaning will be done. Clean the appliances early on as well that way you only have to wipe them down on that last day.
14. I would be remiss if I did not at least mention your car. If you are driving your car as well, make sure you have a checklist of everything you will need to carry in the car. Make sure you have changed the oil and checked all the fluids including your windshield wiper fluid, make sure the spare tire is inflated and in good condition and that you have an emergency kit. Also make sure your registration and insurance cards are current and in your glove compartment. Keep a small amount of cash on you for tolls. Don’t forget chargers for electronic devices either. Our trip to North Dakota took five days. I had kids and pets with me so we took our time.
Now that you have everything packed and organized, how are you going to move it from one place to the next? Who’s going to drive that truck? What about my car? So many questions. I’ll give you my answers in the next post. That deserves it’s own post.
As I type this, the price of oil is right at the $40 mark. In November of 2014 I recall being told by people who have lived through more than one boom that it will be back over $80.00 by Summer. Well, the Summer is quickly coming to an end and it’s sinking lower. What does this mean for Western North Dakota? This year saw quite a few job losses in the oil sector, that’s true. In fact according to state employment data released by the Labor Department in June, North Dakota saw the worst monthly percentage drop in employment in May, 1.1%, of any state. [Read more…] about Are Lower Oil Prices Leading to Lower Rent Prices in North Dakota?
Article by By Alexia Fernández Campbell.
It’s getting better.
This slogan is splashed on a billboard that welcomes people to the town of Williston, North Dakota.
Mayor Howard Klug repeats this message often.
“We have come a long way since we were a tent city,” he says, referring to the days when people camped out in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
But Williston is still a living contradiction.
There’s not enough housing—or jobs—for every fortune-seeker making his way here with a backpack and a few dollars in his pockets (yes, they are mostly men).
But not too long ago, the local Wal-Mart was paying $17 an hour and rumors abounded about roughnecks making six figures to work the nearby oil fields.
“Things have changed in the last six months,” says Kristin Oxendahl, community engagement director for the Salvation Army of Williston. “Our economy hasn’t crashed, but we don’t have quite the boom we had several years ago.”
Last year, the Salvation Army paid for 179 bus tickets to help people get back home. Some lost their jobs after the oil boom fizzled. Others showed up and were dejected to find no more high-paying work.
Black Gold Boom
Fracking technology, which allows oil companies to remove crude oil buried under once-impenetrable rocks, has turned North Dakota towns like Williston into overnight boomtowns. Though oil prices have lagged and job growth has slowed in recent months, Williston remains the fastest-growing small city in the nation, according to the latest Census figures.
But the city is struggling to keep up with the explosive growth. The sewer system needs an overhaul. The schools need more teachers and classrooms. And rents here are among the highest in the nation (about $2,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment).
Dozens of people stop by the Salvation Army downtown each day for free lunch. Some of them sleep in their cars because they can’t afford a place to live. These newcomers often have clashed with longtime residents of this prairie town.
Oxendahl, who was born and raised in Williston, remembers the days when she recognized most people in the grocery store. Or when people didn’t lock the doors to their homes and cars. That’s not the case any more.
“Now it’s different and it scares a lot of people,” Oxendahl says. “But in a lot of ways, Williston is just catching up with the rest of the country.”
People from all over the world have started moving here. The predominantly white town has started seeing its first African, Asian and Latino families. The rate of blacks and Latinos nearly doubled in Williston to 4.8 percent from 2010 to 2013, according to Census data.
When Viola LaFontaine took the helm of the Williston Public School District six years ago, there was only one student who spoke English as a second language. Now there are more than 100. The most commonly spoken foreign language is Spanish, she says, followed by Turkish, Russian and French.
There are also many students from outside the state, resulting in a student population increase and a teacher shortage. Though the school system added 25 instructors in the past six years, it still needs more math and English teachers. The district even had to reopen an elementary school that it shut down years ago.
“It’s a very transient population, so you never know how long a student will be here,” says LaFontaine.
Finding housing for teachers also has been a struggle. So the school district purchased a pair of fourplex apartment buildings for some of them. They give teachers a housing allowance because it’s hard enough to live here on a $40,000 salary. Many teachers have to work part-time jobs.
Money is now the main thing on Mayor Klug’s mind. Specifically, getting more oil profits flowing into town coffers. Local governments get 30 percent of oil tax revenue. One of his first priorities is replacing Williston’s sewer system.
“We’re still taking on massive debt problems because our sewer is only designed to handle 15,000 people,” says Klug, a longtime Williston business owner.
A new sewer system will cost the town $110 million and is the only thing that will prevent the town from dumping raw sewage into the Missouri River.
Another thing on Klug’s mind is the airport, which he says needs a major upgrade. It was designed to handle about 10,000 passengers a year. Last month alone, 12,000 passengers came through.
Klug, who was elected in 2014, promised to make sure that Williston prospered from the oil boom while still retaining its “old-time values.”
“A lot of people were angry because their friends moved away and they weren’t able to get a table at their local restaurant,” says Klug. “We’re not the same town, but we’re better now. We had 15 new restaurants open this year.”
He says that Williston is still a town of opportunity for people looking to strike it rich. He says all you need is common sense, a few skills, hard work and being able to budget your money.
This article was reprinted with permission from The Next America. Libby Isenstein and Janie Boschma contributed to this article
I hear all the time that if it’s “not broke, don’t fix it”. I find that the large majority of people who say this simply don’t want their way to change. Maybe it scares them, I don’t know. But many of our old ways are wrong. History has shown this over and over again, why aren’t we listening? There was a time when women were not allowed to vote. There was a time when blacks were forbidden by law to marry whites. There was even a time when some people were legally considered property. Thank God someone challenged those ideals. Thank God someone had the guts to stand up and say, “this is wrong” even though the prevailing thought disagreed. The days of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell are over. Today’s decision handed down by the supreme court will finally bring in line those states that have been refusing a right that should be available to all consenting, legal adults. This includes North Dakota. It’s time to realize that consenting adults can and should be able to do the same across the board. Gay or straight, let people get married without imposing your views (religious or not) on them. If you are Christian and it’s against your personal set of beliefs or your bible tells you that marriage is between a man and a woman, then don’t marry someone of the same sex. It doesn’t take away from your faith because you get to decide how you worship. You are not being denied your right to marry.
Hopefully this decision will put this issue to rest. As a county we have more important things to figure out. In a country that screams FREEDOM, we need to stop judging our neighbors choices. You may not like what they do or how they live but it’s not your life. When we constantly take up sides, it only further divides this country. There may come a day when you need your neighbor.
Justice Anthony Kennedy gave his opinion on this issue and it was beautifully written and on point.
Maybe in my lifetime there will come a day when we can live as humans. When we can finally lay down the names and just be people working toward a common goal. Which goal is that? Well for me it’s to leave my area of influence a little bit better for those I will someday leave behind. Does one person have the power to do that? Probably not but if we all moved in a similar direction, it would be amazing what we could accomplish. Put down the names and just be good people. You don’t need a God to do the right thing. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. It’s in our DNA to understand what is fundamentally right and wrong. There are no excuses.