UND Center for Community Engagement

Lisa Day 2 – Watford City

In Uncategorized on March 14, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Today was pretty awesome.  I woke up around 7am and watched the sunrise, which was a pretty sight from the hill where the church was. It has been a while since I have seen a sunrise like that.  I took some pictures and watched some little girls get on the bus for school.  After walking back to the church we had a meeting with Gretchen Stenejhem whose husband owns First National Bank a bank that was established by his Grandfather 122 years ago right in Watford City.  She told us of some of the crazy things that are happening in Watford because of the oil boom.

I am from the area, the town of Mandaree on the Fort Berthold Reservation.  I have come to Watford City many times, but I haven’t visited the area for a while and it was good to see it from a different perspective.  We had lunch with Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford who told us about some of the many changes that Watford City has and continues to go through.  Watford City has definitely experienced a growth in their local economy, but it seems to have come at a cost.  Shortage of housing, increase in police activity, overcrowded in schools and more staffing for the increase in hours needed for established businesses to meet the demands of the new population.

I asked the mayor if there was a projected amount of time that oil will run out in the area (backend formation) since oil is not a renewable energy resource.   He said that it will be a long time before that happens but I wanted to know what kind of plans they have when it will run out and what kind of economic problems they foresee that they will have to deal with.  

The group then went to the 7th Day Adventist Church, which includes a thrift store downstairs where we helped sorted and organized clothes.  I enjoyed helping out with everybody and had some fun.  I liked the lady who ran the place, Sally Foreman who was 79 years old and had lived in the area all her life. She was really nice and had some good stories to share.  This is one thing I like about small towns.

After Watford we went along the highway, stopped at the outskirts Theodore Roosevelt National Park to see the badlands, which is one of my favorite places in North Dakota.  On the way to Regent, ND we did stop by the many sculptures that make up the enchanted highway. I learned that a man named Gary Greff made all of the sculptures (with some help of course).  Some of them are HUGE and you can see them at a distance from the highway.  The tallest one I saw was about 40 feet possibly (that’s my guess anyway). Mr. Greff is also in the process of building a hotel, which has a medieval castle theme called the Enchanted Castle.  I saw how he rounded out his ideas with the construction of the castle and I love his creativity.  We stopped in a tiny town called Lefor, where the remains of a 98 year old bank still stood right off of the road.  I always like visiting places like this.

We ate dinner at a nice little bed and breakfast cooked by a lady named Audrey Lutz. It was really delicious! No, really. Some of the best food I have tasted in a long time if not ever. She asked us what kind of steak we would like *that was awesome*.  I am not a food critic but I love to eat and the food was awesome! A couple of us had a little conversation with Gary about how he started the Enchanted Highway and it was an interesting to see how it all started and how he plans on expanded on his ideas.

All in all I felt that I learned a lot today.  This is the most interesting stop on the trip for me so far.

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