January 4, 2012

Watford rated No. 1 as “Best Place To Raise Children”

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

Watford City natives don’t have to be told their city is the best place in North Dakota to raise kids. But the fact that Bloomberg Businessweek has taken notice of this small rural community is something to talk about.
On Nov. 15, 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek released a ranking of the “Best Places to Raise Your Kids in 2012.” Of the 4,149 cities evaluated from all around the country, Watford City rose to the top and was named the “Best Place in North Dakota to raise kids in 2012.”
Chamber President Debbie Larsen couldn’t agree more.
“Both as Chamber President and as a mom who has raised four kids in Watford City, I agree that Watford City is an awesome place to raise children,” states Larsen.
With the criteria that the crime index had to be less than 10 percent above the national average, the population had to be between 1,000 and 50,000 and the median family income had to be within 20 percent of the state median, Bloomberg then considered several other contributing factors such as education, economy and ethnic diversity to conclude that Watford City is the best place in North Dakota to raise children.
“This is a great honor for our city,” states Mayor Brent Sanford. “It is a testament to past leaders who kept the faith during down times, continually finding ways to improve and enhance the public facilities and businesses.”
So what was it about Watford City that gained the attention of Bloomberg Businessweek?
According to the article, it’s things like Watford City’s renovated Main Street, the Wild West Water Park and municipal golf course, in addition to the fact that the area offers many activities for children, which include hunting, fishing, biking and boating.
But it is really so much more than that.
“About 10 years ago, a number of people made a conscious decision as to the kind of town they wanted Watford to be, and then set out to make it happen,” states Larsen. “Watford was always a friendly place with high quality schools. But about 10 years ago city officials, business people and local citizens each committed to really improving and updating our town.”
Now, states Larsen, Watford City has a water park, movie theaters, golf course, high quality school buildings, updated playgrounds, infrastructure and numerous activities for all ages.
“Yet we have managed to maintain a small-town atmosphere where everyone truly cares about their neighbor,” states Larsen.
This ranking couldn’t have been more timely for Watford City residents who find themselves in the midst of an extensive and exhaustive oil boom.
With spirits waning as the city grows and the countryside changes, natives have wondered if this is still the place it was when they fell in love with it.
While the answer may be unclear, this report serves as a reminder to Watford City leaders, residents and visitors of what still makes this city great and worth hanging onto.
“In your daily work, you sometimes pass over the fact that we are still one of the best small communities in the best state in the U.S.,” states Gene Veeder, executive director of the McKenzie County Job Development Authority. “For my new year, I plan to make every effort to take advantage of opportunities to make this a permanent home for the next generation of families.”
Mayor Sanford adds to Veeder’s sentiment by saying, “The greatest challenge lies ahead as we hope to integrate thousands of new Watford City residents while maintaining the fabric of what we have had.”
The greatness of Watford City truly resonates throughout the city because of the care its residents have shown for it and the love people have for it.
With a new year in store, hopefully, everyone who calls Watford City their home will discover, or rediscover why Watford City is a great place to live.