March 11, 2020

As I see it

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Beginning this week, everyone in McKenzie County will start to receive mailings from the U.S. Census Bureau asking them to participate in the 2020 Census. And when those mailings arrive, I am encouraging everyone to take the 10 minutes that will be required to answer a few basic questions to make sure that they are part of the census numbers.
Regardless where you live in McKenzie County - be it a home, an apartment, an RV park or a man camp, saying that you are spending at least 51 percent of your time in the county is absolutely critical. It doesn’t matter whether or not you have a North Dakota driver’s license or if your vehicle is registered in North Dakota, if you are currently working or living in McKenzie County, you need to be counted as living here.
So why is being counted as part of the 2020 Census critical to Watford City and McKenzie County?
It’s quite simple. The number of people that are living and working here drives the amount of federal funds that flow into the county and our local governments. These dollars help fund such things as educational programs, health and human services programs and transportation enhancements to name just a few. But the data from the census is also a major component when new businesses look at coming to the region.
Quite simply, the more people that we have saying that they are living here helps justify the decisions that are being made by city, county and school officials when it comes to building additional day cares, new schools, or expanding road, water and sewer systems.
By best estimates, there are currently between 25,000 and 27,000 people living in McKenzie County, while Watford City’s population is currently pegged at around 7,100. That is up substantially from the 2010 Census which showed that 6,310 people lived in the county and there were 1,744 residents in Watford City.
Obviously, a large percentage of our population growth since the 2010 Census has been a result of people working in the energy industry moving into the county. Some of these people have been living and working here permanently for over six years, while some of them are working and living here on a temporary basis. But the important thing that these individuals and their employers need to understand is that since they are here over 51 percent of the time, they should be counted in our census numbers.
Everyone that is living in McKenzie County, Watford City, Arnegard and Alexander today are using the services that the county and these cities provide. They are using our schools, our streets and roads, our health and human services programs, and our recreational facilities. And they are asking for more and more services, more shopping and dining opportunities and more housing opportunities.
If everyone wants to see McKenzie County and Watford City be able to meet the needs of our growing population, it starts with everyone doing their part in the 2020 Census by saying that they are living here.