Enrollment for McKenzie County Public School District #1 is projected to increase 1,000 students within the next decade. That is according to a recently-released study presented to the school board this month. The largest class this school year is kindergarten at 176 students, the smallest class is the seniors at 92. The study recommends the school district start considering plans for a third elementary school as well as ways to ensure adequate space in the middle school as the district enrollment continues to grow.


Employment for North Dakota Region 1 which includes the counties of McKenzie, Williams, and Divide is projected to increase from 38,221 in 2020 to 44,537 in 2030 which is a 16.5% increase. Employment for North Dakota is projected to increase from 453,632 in 2020 to 499,288 in 2030, a 10.1% increase. Region 1’s growth rate is just below that of Region 5 which includes Fargo and its surrounding area. See more in this report from the Labor Market Information Center of Job Service North Dakota.


Progress continues in getting Highway 85 4 laned from the Watford City bypass to the Long X Bridge near Theodore Roosevelt National Park. According to the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association, right of way is currently being acquired, which is anticipated to be completed by this summer. Utility movement should be completed by this fall, as well as project bidding. One could see construction commence by 2023. As the graphic shows, US Highway 85 consistently sees very high volumes of oversize/overweight vehicles that is similar to, or greater than, 4-lane roads in North Dakota.

At 83,000 head, McKenzie County is one of the top four North Dakota counties in number of “all cattle/calves” inventory according to 2021 data released by the USDA.
Other McKenzie County data include cash rent: non-irrigated cropland average rent at $32.50/acre, $10/acre for pastureland, and $169/acre for irrigated cropland. Find more USDA agricultural data for North Dakota and its counties here.
Watford City is being featured on a “My Hometown” Episode broadcast on the BEK Channel, Wednesday, December 22, 2021 at 4:30pm Central. The show will feature interviews with a variety of community members including Chamber of Commerce Director Mary Gumke, Gene Veeder, Mayor Phil Riely, Doug Bolken and Daniel Stenberg.
In a story on the 2022 Bicycling Travel Awards, Yahoo! Life name the local Maah Daah Hey Trail as the “Best Hidden Gem in the US.” In the story, they report: “Yes, North Dakota deserves a spot on your bike-destination dream board. The state’s far western Badlands is home to an unsung hero of a trail system…” Read the full article here.

While stalled for a bit during the pandemic, ONEOK’s Demicks Lake III natural gas processing facility’s construction is back on. With a $140 million budget, the plans include the project to be completed by the first quarter of 2023 and will have capacity for 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. See more in this ONEOK press release.

What was once ND Legislative District 39 which included McKenzie County all the way to the South Dakota border has changed. The new district for McKenzie County–District 26–covers a much smaller geographical area–McKenzie County minus the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and parts of Dunn County. Western North Dakota picked up more representation due to the growth documented in the 2020 Census. See more legislative district maps here.
The November Economy at a Glance is now available. Some data of note include:
  • Brookledge’s apartment occupancy rate for November 2021 is 88%; one year ago it was 63%; and two years ago it was 87%.
  • McKenzie County’s unemployment rate for September 2021 came in at 4.0%; in August 2021 it was 4.8%; and in September 2020 it was 7.6%.
  • Online job openings total 249 for September 2021; in August 2021 it was 215; and in September 2020 it was 200.
The October 2021 Economy at a Glance is now available. Some data of note include:
  • McKenzie County’s unemployment rate continues to fall. In July 2021 it was 5.5%, in August 2021 it was 4.8%.
  • Apartment occupancy rate for October 2021 is at 83%, the same as it was for September 2021.
  • McKenzie County’s labor force for August 2021 came in at 8,464; in August 2020 it was 9,328.