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By James MacPherson, Associated Press
Kennedy Mugemuzi is done moving. After leaving Congo to live in Nashville for a few years and then coming to North Dakota for the opportunities of the oil boom, he is among the many staying put in Williston — even though depressed crude prices have spurred an exodus of thousands of drillers and others seeking new prospects elsewhere.
The epicenter of western North Dakota’s oil patch still teems with newcomers like Mugemuzi, who are opting to remain where they are in a still-strong economy instead of starting over somewhere else, or returning to the areas they left behind where jobs and financial stability are harder to come by.
With jobs for the taking in a gold-rush atmosphere, Williston offered a lifeline for people determined to stake an economic foothold, even far from home. Now it’s Mugemuzi and those like him who are staying to raise families and start businesses that may save Williston in return, keeping it from withering like other oil towns after a boom.
“People who are here now are people who want to stay,” said Mugemuzi, 33, who is saving most of what he earns from two full-time jobs to get his three children the college education he lacks. “The economy is still good but some people are leaving. I’m staying because we like it here and the schools are good.”