CHI St. Joseph’s secures new medical helicopter

It didn’t take long for CHI St. Joseph’s Health to find a replacement for its medical helicopter service.

Grand Forks-based Valley Med Flight agreed Tuesday to base a medical helicopter at the helipad of the new St. Joseph’s hospital under construction in Dickinson. Valley Med Flight will also provide fixed-wing aircraft support to southwest North Dakota from its existing bases.

“Our No. 1 concern is access for our patients,” said Reed Reyman, president of CHI St. Joseph’s Health. “We just know that a helicopter needs be based here and we know we have to have access to fixed wing, so we did all we could to get this in place.”

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Survey says …

We asked. You answered. The Press survey results show readers have mixed feelings on the boom’s impact; feel Dickinson is a worse place than it was 5 years ago.  

The oil boom has changed Dickinson and southwest North Dakota’s way of life — and a majority of people don’t like it, according to a Dickinson Press survey.

Of the 1,310 readers who voted in the survey online or through the newspaper over the last two weeks, 57 percent said they don’t believe the area is a better place than it was five years ago. Sixty-four percent have mixed feelings on the energy industry’s impact on the area, saying it has brought a combination of good and bad impacts.

In response to the survey’s results, Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson said he understands there is a “significant minority” who have been negatively impacted by the oil boom, whether it’s because of increased housing costs, a higher cost of living or everyday issues, such as dealing with increased traffic or longer lines at the grocery store.

“In general, what’s happening here is good,” Johnson said. “But it isn’t good for everybody.”

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NO SPRINKLERS: Record-setting water usage leads Dickinson to ban use of outdoor

There will be no running through the sprinklers to cool off in Dickinson this weekend.

Dickinson officials have issued a ban on all outdoor water use over the weekend after a day of record-setting usage left the city’s systems strained.

City Administrator Shawn Kessel said Dickinson used 5.7 million gallons of water Thursday, the most in its history.

“Our water distribution network is not able to keep up with the record-setting demand that we are having,” Kessel said.

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CONSTRUCTING A CLASS: Classrooms take shape as Trinity continues to recover from fire

Modular buildings have become a common tool in western North Dakota. Oilfield and construction projects often necessitate the need for temporary structures that can be erected, used and moved at a moment’s notice.

On the outside, the modular classroom buildings being attached to the west wing of Trinity High School have a similar feel. But looks can be deceiving. Inside, the eight classrooms feel like they could be in any actual school building. In some ways, they’re better.

“You’d think you’re in a school,” Dickinson Catholic Schools President Steve Glasser said Thursday while giving a tour of Trinity’s construction and cleanup progress.

“We want our students to feel at home. We really feel this is going to be very comfortable for our students and our teachers.”

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$80K worth of oil stolen in Dunn County

KILLDEER — A Dunn County roustabout service is estimating that $80,000 worth of crude oil was stolen from tanks it maintains at two well sites north of Dunn Center.
Greg Krueger, the owner of K&R Roustabout, said he reported the theft of about 760 barrels of oil to the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office on July 1.

“Somebody is going in there and taking oil,” Krueger said.

Cornerstone Natural Resources owns the wells, but Krueger said a K&R pumper was the first to raise a red flag after the amount of oil calculated in tanks at two different sites came up short and didn’t match truck tickets.

Under North Dakota law, the theft would be considered a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $10,000, or both.

Krueger said throughout the past two weeks, he has been “disheartened” by the effort being put into the investigation by the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office. He said no one responded to his initial report until July 4.

“It bummed me out that the guys aren’t taking it serious,” Krueger said.

Dunn County Sheriff Clay Coker said his office is investigating the alleged theft, adding theft is the most probable answer to the missing oil because a seal to one tank was missing and a seal at another was broken. The sheriff’s office is unsure of the exact dates the thefts occurred, but they are believed to have occurred over a weekend, Coker said.

Krueger said he thinks the thefts happened at night, adding that the well sites where the tanks are located are in secluded, rough terrain areas near the Little Missouri State Park.

K&R has set up motion-activated cameras typically used for monitoring wildlife at well sites, Krueger said, to help prevent further losses.

“We just hope to hell they come back and we catch them on the game cam,” Krueger said. “I’d like to catch them. They’re going to go to jail for a long time.”

North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources spokeswoman Alison Ritter said her office’s production audit department is aware of missing oil and is doing their part to help the investigation.

“Like anything else, it’s a valuable property,” Ritter said. “But the big thing where we would come in is if we could look at other run tickets we receive, and if anything seems off where we could provide a lead, we could do that.”

An eventful day in the mountains

A selfie while riding four-wheeler in the mountains.

When we visit my wife’s parents in Montana, there’s nothing we like to do more than to load up her dad’s four-wheelers and head to the nearby mountains to do a little off-roading and motorized mountain climbing.

Growing up on a southwest North Dakota farm, I know a little something about isolation. But honestly, it doesn’t compare to being on a remote mountain, 25 miles from the nearest city and six miles from the nearest ranch — with the only way in or out being a rocky, five-foot wide trail — that gives one a true sense of seclusion.

This time, however, that seclusion nearly got the best of us. No, we didn’t have some sort of injury or major mishap. Just comical misfortune that delayed a wonderful day.

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A LONG NIGHT REMEMBERED: 3 Families Share Their Stories of Tornado That Hit Dickinson 5 Years Ago Today

Jim and Betty Anton show a picture of the pool table they hid under during the tornado that destroyed much of their home on July 8, 2009.

Editor’s Note: There are literally hundreds of stories and different accounts of the night an EF-3 tornado struck the south side of Dickinson on July 8, 2009. Five years later, we take a look at three families — two of them next-door neighbors — and what they went through that day and in the tornado’s aftermath. 

Jim and Betty Anton were sitting in their living room the night of July 8, 2009, when the sky turned dark seemingly in an instant.

Often, they had discussed where would be the best place to take cover in case the threat of a tornado ever turned real. Their house had a basement, but no place down there seemed perfect.

The Antons had ultimately decided they would either go underneath the staircase connecting the main floor and the basement or crawl beneath their pool table. That night, with only seconds to act, the Antons chose the pool table.

Jim Anton knew they had to move fast when he looked out their front window and saw trees flying by.

“He couldn’t finish the word basement’ fast enough, and we went down and got right under the pool table,” Betty Anton said.

“We slid under there like butter.”

As they laid face down under the pool table, the Antons heard what sounded like a train going through their house. Betty’s glasses flew off her face and hit the basement wall, followed by a crunching sound.

“And it was over with,” she said.

As quickly as the tornado came, it was gone. What meteorologists would later describe as an EF-3 “jumper,” moved east across Dickinson and continued out of town.

When all seemed quiet and safe again, Jim Anton pulled himself out from underneath the pool table and carefully walked upstairs. He didn’t linger there.

“He got right back downstairs, got under the pool table and said, ‘The living room is gone,’” Betty said.

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