August 14, 2013

Ground broken for new daycare

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Watford City has made a name for itself across North Dakota as being a community that, in spite of seemingly insurmountable challenges and roadblocks, has always been able to find a  way to get things accomplished.
And last Wednesday, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem were in Watford City to help the community celebrate the opening of the Wolf Run Village, a 42-unit housing complex for essential school, city and county employees, as well as to break ground for a 200-unit daycare facility that will be open in the winter of 2014.
“This project is a perfect example of meeting the challenge for essential housing, as well as a daycare facility by hook or by crook,” stated Dalrymple. “You have found new ways that have never been done before to meet your needs.”
The $8 million complex, which will provide 24 one-bedroom apartments and 18 two-bedroom townhomes, as well as the daycare, was funded in part with funds from McKenzie County, the City of Watford City, the McKenzie County Public School District No. 1, as well as $1.5 million from the North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund with First International Bank & Trust providing a $250,000 matching grant and more than $500,000 through the state’s Law Enforcement Pilot Program, a program established to provide housing for law enforcement personnel. Watford City also received $125,000 in Energy Impact Grants to help fund the construction of the daycare facility.
According to Stenehjem, providing affordable housing for law enforcement officers in western North Dakota is critical, which is why the state of North Dakota made $3 million available in a Law Enforcement Pilot Grant to communities, like Watford City.
“Law enforcement agencies in western North Dakota have repeatedly cited increased housing costs and shortages as an issue in recruiting and retaining officers,” stated Stenehjem. “By providing affordable housing for public employees and a new day care center for the community, Bakken Housing Partners is helping to deliver a safer future for Watford City and its new residents.”
But according to Gene Veeder,  McKenzie County Job Development Authority executive director, it was Watford City’s ability to put together a unique partnership that was key to the new development being able to be built.
“It is just too costly to build affordable housing here,” stated Gene Veeder. “But with the help of the city, county and school, we were able to put together a package that worked and brought affordable housing to our key essential employees.”
According to Veeder, the speed by which the Wolf Run Village was constructed was amazing.
“We started Wolf Run Village in March, and we started moving into the first units in August,” stated Veeder. “We brought in the people, like Bakken Housing Partners, who could bring this project to a reality.”
Bakken Housing Partners LLC is owned by Mark Bragg and is working to develop housing throughout the Bakken.
“Many people throughout the community worked hard for the past two years to bring this project to fruition,” stated Katie Walters with Bakken Housing Partners, the developer of Wolf Run Village. “It’s great to see it completed and know that local families now will have an affordable place to call home.”
“Wolf Run Village is a great example of how public and private resources can come together to meet the vital needs of our communities, including affordable housing for essential services employees and childcare facilities,” stated Dalrymple. “The state is proud to be a partner in the development of this important project and in working with Watford City and the region to address the impacts of rapid growth.”
New Daycare Scheduled
To Open In Spring of 2014
As part of Wednesday’s ceremony,  local and state officials, along with many area children, broke ground on the Wolf Pup Daycare, which will be  built next to the Wolf Run Village.
According to Walters, bids on the 17,000-square foot daycare facility, which will accommodate up to 200 children will be opened later this month, and is scheduled to be open in  February of 2014.
Wolf Pup Daycare will be owned and operated under the Wolf Run umbrella, making it a non-profit entity. Any profits from the business, according to Walters, will be used for new equipment and resources, or need-based scholarships. The daycare will serve all the families of Watford City and enrollment is open to everyone.
As with the Wolf Run Village apartments and townhomes, donations for the daycare have been instrumental in off-setting construction costs, as well as to furnish and supply the new facility when completed. Fundraising also is underway to help keep daycare rates affordable.
To date, QEP Resources, Whiting Petroleum, MBI Energy Services, Power Fuels, Oppidan Construction, McKenzie County Bank, and the Roughrider Fund have made donations to the daycare.
“Overall, the entire Wolf Run Village complex is a true example of the Watford City community coming together to meet vital needs,” stated Veeder. “It is providing affordable housing and daycare, both of which are important infrastructure elements that are critical to keeping the town alive, operational and successful.”