A few weeks ago, a man walked into Command Center, a temporary labor and staffing service in downtown Dickinson, and said he needed a job after being laid off from a high-paying position on an oil rig.
The man said he’d only work for $35 an hour, needed a minimum of 50 hours guaranteed each week, and wanted his housing paid for along with a $150 a day per diem.
After realizing the man wasn’t joking, staffing specialist Rena Olheiser responded in the kindest manner she could muster.
“Well good luck with that,” she said with a smile.
The days of high wages, overtime, free meals and company housing for many oil workers in the Bakken are coming to an end. At least for now.
This is especially true around Dickinson, where there isn’t a drilling rig within 50 miles and likely won’t be until the price of oil climbs back to levels oil companies deem profitable.
“I tell them here, ‘Everyone is expendable. Everyone,’” said Kristen Vesledahl, Command Center’s branch manager.
The slowdown of oil production and drilling in the Bakken Oil Patch is apparent even in the sales and trade areas.
Foot traffic was a little slow at times Wednesday during the inaugural Bakken Oil Product & Service Show, exhibitors said, but picked up in the afternoon as attendees stayed busy networking and showcasing new products at the West River Ice Center. The trade show continues at 9 a.m. today.
“We’re seeing some of the effects of the slowdown,” said Jeff Zarling, president of DAWA Solutions Group, which promoted the event. “Just like everybody else in the marketplace, we’re waiting to see what’s going to happen and anxious to see when things are going to accelerate again.”
More than 200 exhibitors from across the country showcased products and services, and exchanged information while hundreds of others walked the Ice Center talking to business owners and representatives, taking in product demonstrations and workshops.
“Everybody likes to see lots of people, but there’s also the fact that they like to see quality people,” Zarling said. “It only takes one to make it all worth it.”
I took a drive through Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s South Unit near Medora on Sunday and captured a couple photographs of the park’s wild horses, including one close-up with a lone stallion. For more photos, check out my photo site.
A loveable, smiling and prancing handful of soft, golden fur.
On Wednesday afternoon, the 13-month-old purebred golden retriever — still very much a puppy at heart — tore around a Dickinson apartment. She played with her toys, teased a cat and nuzzled up to whoever would pet her.
Bailey was happy. She was home.
It was a welcome and relieving sight for her owners, Luke Rodenbough, of Blaisdell, and his girlfriend, Staci Moore, of Dickinson.
A little more than two months ago, Rodenbough thought he had lost Bailey forever.
The dog he had raised, trained and loved since he got her last May as an 8-week-old pup disappeared Jan. 27 after he had taken her to a job site near Parshall.
A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting in a room with some lifelong community members.
Like men who like to talk do, we started fixing the world’s problems — starting with Dickinson’s.
Because this happened inside of a room at Trinity High School during the Region 7 boys basketball tournament, the conversation quickly turned to sports and the 2,300-person crowd packed into the Knights of Columbus Activities Center gymnasium just down the hall.
Each March, thousands of fans sardine themselves into arguably the best high school gymnasium in North Dakota to watch high school basketball tournaments.
Why? Because it’s all Dickinson, a regional hub city, has to offer.
So finally, I asked everyone a question: “Do you think this community would support a 5,000-seat event center?” The resounding answer was, “Yes.”