September 18, 2019

Watford to be honored as City of the Year

By Ashleigh Plemper
Farmer Staff Writer

On Saturday, Sept. 21, Watford City will be honored with the City of the Year award by the North Dakota League of Cities.
Phil Riely, Watford City mayor, will be receiving the award on behalf of the city during the League of Cities annual conference in Bismarck, N.D.
It is not the first time that Watford City has been honored as the group’s City of the Year. Several years ago, prior to the oil boom, Watford City was the recipient of the small City of the Year award. This year, following six years of rapid growth, the city is receiving the award in the large city category.
“This award really allows us to shed that previous version of ourselves, which was a Wild West boom town,” states Vawnita Best, Watford City Community Development coordinator. “Therefore, it really allows us to appeal to people who are considering moving here or investing in this community.”
While the city has grown, that’s not necessarily what Mayor Riely attributes to the recognition of earning an award. The community was already alive and thriving to begin with, Riely says, and just needed to be spurred by a larger population to gain momentum to achieve greater excellence.
“Our Main Street was built because of a progressive community, not because of the Bakken boom,” states Riely. “But the growth of the population has spurred ideas and the grit needed in order to make things happen the way they did.”
In 2010, according to the National Census Bureau, Watford City had a population of 1,744 people. Today, Best says that the Census Bureau is now estimating the city’s population at over 7,000.

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