Posted 10/03/12 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
McKenzie County’s emergency responders, fire departments and law enforcement agencies have received over $1 million in the latest round of Oil Impact Funding grants to update their equipment needs to meet the ever increasing demands associated with increased population and energy development.
During the Fall Grant Round, the Board of the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands (Land Board) awarded $4 million in grants to help fund enhancements in emergency services throughout the state’s oil-producing counties. Of that $4 million total, McKenzie County agencies received $1,011,650, or just over a quarter of the awards.
The City of Watford City was one of the largest grant recipients receiving $826,000. Of that total, $200,000 was allocated to the ambulance service for the purchase of a new ambulance and a building that will provide for crew quarters, training areas and an office. In addition, the city received $500,000 for the construction of a new building to house six of the department’s fire trucks and ambulances, as well as a $126,060 grant for new vehicles for the Watford City Police Department.
“These grants are an important part of our overall strategy to help address the impacts of rapid growth in our oil and gas counties,” said Gov. Jack Dalrymple, chairman of the Land Board. “We are making significant progress, but we also know there is much work ahead. “We will continue working with local officials and community leaders to meet the region’s current and long-term needs.”
Other McKenzie County agencies receiving funding were the Alexander Rural Fire District, which received $40,000 for the purchase of a new tanker truck and new bunker gear for fire fighters; the City of Arnegard, which received a $100,000 grant to establish a joint police force between the cities of Arnegard and Alexander; and the McKenzie County Rural Fire Protection District, which received $35,500 for the purchase of new self-contained breathing apparatus units.
To date, the Land Board has committed nearly $125 million in Energy Impact Grant funds to help schools address needs that come with rapid enrollment, to facilitate the development of childcare centers and to enhance emergency services. Cities are using the funding to expand water supply systems, to extend sewer lines and city streets and to make other improvements that support greater housing development. The funding also is being used for major improvements to county and township roadways.
During the upcoming legislative session, Dalrymple says he is recommending that the Legislature provide additional funding to address energy impacts during the 2013-2015 biennium and that the Legislature improve the state’s formula for oil and gas revenue distributions to benefit oil-producing counties.