McKenzie County Healthcare Systems will begin offering labor and delivery services in McKenzie County on December 6, 2022. Dr. Yolanda Newton will be leading the obstetrics practice. Among Dr. Newton’s strengths are minimally invasive gynecologic surgery through advanced laparoscopy and the natural birthing process. A grand opening celebration will be held on December 1, from 1-4pm. See more in this press release.

Hess is looking to increase its spending in the Bakken and other areas by 37% next year according to this Natural Gas Intelligence article. About $250 million more is expected to be invested in the Bakken in 2023. In the third quarter of 2022, HESS saw net production increase 12% compared to the same period the year before. They also recently added a fourth drilling rig in the Bakken.

Watford City is included as one of the 25 Popular Small Towns to Live in the U.S in an article recently published by U.S. News and World Report. The article cites the City’s efforts to create the infrastructure needed to support the growth of the past decade, its proximity to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, as well as the open spaces that are still available.

The Watford City High School Ambassadors Program was recently recognized by Governor Burgum at the Main Street ND Summit for the Future Leaders Empowerment Award. To get the program started, Pat Bertagnolli, who is now executive director at Job Service North Dakota, worked in conjunction with Amy Polivka, the High School Science Teacher and Student Council Advisor and Jim Green, the High School Principal to be intentional about aligning community, industry, and schools. The nomination for the award was submitted by Vawnita Best, the Workforce Development Director for Watford City in recognition of the program’s success and to showcase how students have engaged with, and impacted, the community. The Ambassador Program allows students to have a voice by sharing their ideas with businesses and community leaders. The program also allows student ambassadors to support their community by welcoming students transitioning into their community and being mentors and role models for younger students.

The final plans of the four-laning of Highway 85 from Watford City to the Long X Bridge is almost complete.  The project is expected to be bid in late 2022 or early 2023, and construction expected to start in 2023.

Work is in the design phase for the highway from the Long X Bridge to the intersection of Highway 85 with Highway 200. Highway 85 continues to see more oversize/overweight traffic than many of the 4 lane roads in North Dakota as documented with the accompanying image.

The October Economy at a Glance is now available. Some data of note include:

  • LoadPass Permits for McKenzie County, the permit needed to drive an oversized or overweight truck, is at 17,572 for 2022; for the same time period last year it was 15,126.
  • Brookledge’s apartment occupancy rate is at 95%; one year ago it was 83%.
  • Year to date city sales tax distribution for Watford City is $3,145,475; last year for the same time period was $2,463,200.



Workforce seems to be top of mind for all employers–both locally and nationwide. On November 17 at the Rough Rider Center there will be an opportunity to focus on it. A wide range of speakers will talk about different approaches for recruitment, training and finding pertinent info. To learn more and register visit here. 


McKenzie County School District #1 is considered the largest employer in McKenzie County in 2021, according to recently-released data from Job Service North Dakota. Rounding out the top five include ONEOK, Inc; McKenzie County Healthcare Systems; McKenzie County; and Kinder Morgan. To see the rest of McKenzie County’s largest employers, other counties, or the state’s, visit Job Service North Dakota’s interactive dashboard.


What will the energy landscape of western North Dakota be ten years from now? Will it be in a steady state of decline with our communities emptying back out, or will we have taken strategic advantage of the economic opportunities we have been given and be on a path to further diversification and economic prosperity? Strategic growth doesn’t just happen. Past success doesn’t ensure future success. It requires proactive community leaders understanding the potential challenges and opportunities of the future and planning accordingly. The Bakken Region: 2030 and beyond is providing an opportunity for leaders to discuss and prepare for our future. This event will take place on Wednesday, October 19, 2022 from 10-4:30pm. To see a draft agenda and to register visit here.

McKenzie County continues to see new residents move into our community. In an effort to provide connections and resources to those who are looking to get more involved in the community, there will be an event to help provide those connections. Living and Thriving in McKenzie County will be on Tuesday, October 11, from 6-8pm at the Rough Rider Center. While RSVP is requested through this article’s link, there is no cost to attend.