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By James Cron
I’m writing to respond to John Heiser’s letter, “Westerners glad to see Big Oil knocked down to size” (Page A4, Jan. 23).
Despite the billions invested by taxpayers in western North Dakota, there are people such as Heiser who complain, resist change and lack empathy for those who have lost their jobs in the downturn.
And being from a western town that had few prospects before the resurgence of oil, I disagree with Heiser’s sentiments.
I understand Heiser’s frustration with the growth in the area, and I know that development has not been without bumps. But as I drive in areas where there are four-lane highways and better connections with the rest of the state, my sympathy for Heiser wanes.
Between my high-school graduation in 1982 and the Oil Boom, devastation was wrought on western North Dakota. The lack of jobs drove thousands away, including me. Many towns saw schools close and then watched the loss of businesses and infrastructure.
During those 20 years, my home town lost its school, its churches, its gas station, its bar, its fire department and even its post office. The Great Depression of the 1930s was less of an economic disaster there.
But oil development has allowed the town to regain some population and taxpayers. An oil-field business moved to town; it’s owned by wonderful community-minded people who developed the space and created another business.
Things are looking better than they have for years. Now, the challenge during the downturn is to hold on to what we have, and to endure until things turn around.
In North Dakota, oil development added opportunity where there was little or none before.
As printed in the Grand Forks Herald, January 29, 2016