Posted 12/07/11 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
For most longtime residents of McKenzie County, it’s hard not to be somewhat awestruck by all of the new faces that we see as literally thousands of new residents have moved into our communities as a result of the oil activity.
The new faces are everywhere. While many of the new faces may be strictly working in the “patch,” there are also many of them that are filling jobs in our grocery stores, our service stations, our retail stores and our restaurants. It’s hard for some of us old-timers not to complain about all of the new faces in town. We don’t know them. But we see them. We see them dropping off their children at school, coming to church or attending high school sporting events, and shopping in our places of business.
They are our new neighbors. And just like all of us that may have moved to this area, whether it was five years or 30 years ago, every one of these people came from somewhere else. They had other jobs. They have a family. They have talents that no one knows about. But more importantly, they are here. They are now calling Watford City, Arnegard, Alexander, Grassy Butte, Keene, Charlson or some man camp in McKenzie County home.
Being a people person, I’m always asking these new residents to tell me where they came from, why they decided to pack up and leave their home and move here. The obvious answer, of course, was to find work. But the more I visited with these people, the more amazed I have been in some of them. Like you and I, they are great people.
From these conversations, it dawned on me that this newspaper could be one of the best ways possible to help introduce them to us since most of these workers already know more about us than we do about them.
So it was that we, at the Farmer, began designing the concept of the “Faces of the Patch” feature that we hope we will be able to run on a bi-weekly basis. Obviously, we aren’t going to be doing a feature on each and every new person that is living here. But the idea behind the feature series is to find truly unique individuals that have a story to tell.
And this week, as we launch “Faces of the Patch,” we couldn’t have dreamed of finding a more perfect couple to feature than Nat and Wendi Small. Here is a young couple who decided to stake their claim in McKenzie County. Nat operates Precision Pressure Washing and Wendi works at Outlaws’ Bar & Grill. A simple enough story about two very hardworking people. But as we were to learn, Nat was much more than a very polite young man. He was all of that, but he had also served as a scout sniper with the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan and had recently been awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his dedicated service to this country.
Will every “Faces of the Patch” story be similar to Nat’s? That is highly unlikely. But we are going to do our best to find more unique examples of the wonderful people that are now calling McKenzie County home.
And to do that, we are asking for help from our readers. We are going to be asking business owners, oil field companies, school teachers, and just about everyone else we come in contact with to provide us with the names of new people that they know who could possibly be featured in an upcoming story. So if you know of someone that you believe should be featured in “Faces of the Patch,” give us a call.