services and a pervasive atmosphere
of tension, transience and greed.
Lifetime Willistonian Mary Lou
Sundby says it was a “miracle” that
she and her husband, in their 70s, got
an apartment in local senior housing
after their rent nearly tripled last
year. Some of their contemporaries
have left town. “Nobody wants us.
Elders were very much respected in
the past, and now the feeling is totally
reversed,” Sundby says.
Some of the new arrivals are putting
down roots. Kris and Keith Borge-son, in their mid-50s, arrived from
Minnesota a year ago after their retail fireplace business collapsed and
mortgage payments loomed. “We
were barely surviving,” Kris says.
Within 24 hours, she had a sales job at
the Ford dealership. Keith upgraded
his commercial driver’s license and
landed a job driving a fuel truck for
an oil company for $120,000 a year—a
position he found online. The couple,
who have four children, are relocating their business and buying a home.
“People at home are amazed,” Kris
says. “They ask how can we do it at
this point in our lives. But if we didn’t
have Williston going on, life would be
Martha Reynolds, 53, says she and
her husband, Don, 61, have also found
a much-needed second chance in Wil-
liston. “There is absolutely no work in
this country, especially for seniors. If
you come here, you can
work,” Reynolds says.
The couple, who
had made their living
in construction in Las
Vegas, came to Williston about a year ago
to work for a housing contractor. They
lived in a man camp
Kay Muchow cried herself to sleep for two weeks following her move to Williston last October for a job managing a grocery
store deli. She’d been laid off from a
similar position in Northfield, Minn.,
and been contacted by a recruiter to
apply at the local Economart. The
store provides housing.
for six months before moving into
an 800-square-foot condo.
“We’ll be too old to work by the
time things slow down around here,”
Reynolds says. “It’s definitely the last
big thing we’re gonna do.”
Reynolds says the lifestyle isn’t for
everyone. “Don’t come here with
your pants down. You have to have
four-wheel drive, insurance and a
place to live,” she says. “It’s insanely
cold. Housing is impossible. And
there’s nothing to do but work.”
“I’d lie there and wonder if I had
made the right choice,” Muchow,
52, says. She missed her family, her
friends, cultural activities, even
shopping. “Walmart is it,” she says.
The women she rides motorcycles
with in Minnesota teased her about
all the dating options she’d find in
Williston, but Muchow says the high
ratio of men to women sometimes
makes her feel uncomfortable.
Anna Seaton Huntington is a freelance writer who lives in the Black
Hills of South Dakota.
North Dakota has Ameri-
ca’s fastest-growing state
economy, with a $1 billion
budget surplus, 3. 3 percent
unemployment and a 9. 4
percent rise in personal
income in 2010. Here’s
what’s happening in North
; 510,000 barrels of oil a
day are extracted.
; 205 rigs have drilled
3,000 wells. Ten to 20 more
years of drilling is expected
to provide 45,000 wells.
; It takes 120 people one
month to drill and prepare
; One person can operate it
Jobs by the
to view our
video. Or go
Signs of life:
Oil derrick (top);
left), who runs
a deli; motivational billboard;
For opportunities in North
Dakota and Williston, here
are some resources:
1. jobsnd.com (701-328-
2825)—Job Service North
Dakota site has instructions
for searching by industry or
.com—Follow the “
resources” link to a detailed Relocation Guide to Williston area.
Follow “employment” link for
Mercy Medical Center jobs.
news and classified ads for
the Williston area.
Check job openings listed
under “district” button.
for a job?