It is tiring, frustrating, and upsetting to me, to continue to see people in Dickinson refusing to recognize and acknowledge what is going to happen to Dickinson, North Dakota. I don’t want to see anyone being taken advantage of, and that is the way that I look at what people are attempting to do in Dickinson, to deceive others for financial gain.
Why can’t everyone just accept and admit, that Dickinson already experienced an oil boom in the 1950s and the late 1970s, and that after each of these oil booms Dickinson experienced a contraction in the economy, many people losing high paying jobs, businesses closing, people moving away, property decreasing in value and becoming difficult to sell. This most recent oil boom ended in 2015, there will be a continued decrease in the population of Dickinson, but no one will admit this, and everyone is pretending that this isn’t going to happen.
The very wealthy owners of the local banks in Dickinson, most of whom do not live in Dickinson, have already put in place lending policies that show that they understand what is going to happen in Dickinson: many people losing their jobs, many people moving away, properties decreasing in value, and properties becoming difficult to sell. I will give three brief example of these local bank lending policies:
I wanted to purchase a manufactured home in Belfield on its own 75’x140′ lot that was for sale for $20,000 to $25,000. This treed and grass corner lot with water, sewer, and electric to it was probably worth $20K, without even considering the 3br, 1ba fully furnished home in good condition with new siding, added enclosed porch, and added open deck. I contacted five local banks, and each one of them said that they had been instructed to not make any loans on manufactured homes, no matter how much land was involved.
A neighbor of mine who is 53 years old, wanted to purchase a home in our neighborhood that was for sale for $130,000. This neighbor had made about $45,000 per year for the past eight years with his current employer. He is single, and he had just finished paying about $900 per month in child support for the past fifteen years. If he continued to allocate this $900 per month toward house payments, he could have paid off this house mortgage in fifteen years. The bank told him no, as if his income and eight year job history at the same company in Dickinson didn’t mean anything, like they were expecting him to lose his job and not be able to get another job.
Another neighbor of mine who is in his forties and single, he has made about $42,000 per year for the past four years with his current employer. He wanted to buy a house, so he completed a mortgage application with a local bank. The bank approved him for a mortgage of up to $80,000. If you go on the internet and use a mortgage calculator, this $80,000 mortgage would have a monthly payment of less than $400 per month. With a single man having a take-home pay after taxes of $2,700 per month, why would the bank calculate that he could only afford $400 per month on housing? It’s like the bank didn’t expect him to keep his job, or be able to get another job.
From the three examples above, the local bank lending policies indicate that they don’t expect local people to keep their job, be able to get another job, and the banks don’t want to foreclose on properties in order to sell them to recover the unpaid balance on loans, because these properties will not be worth the unpaid loan amount, and these properties will not sell.
There are people and groups in Dickinson that like to talk about how Dickinson is growing, which isn’t going to happen the way that they say it is. Dickinson is going to shrink and contract for at least the next several years. I am tired of hearing about several specific examples of growth and prosperity in Dickinson, which in my opinion, these examples are hoaxes, as they aren’t going to happen any time soon: the Davis Refinery, the Odyssey Theaters Cinema Complex, and the Dickinson Hills Shopping Center.
I have written about, and explained the proposed Davis Refinery west of Belfield twice before. The original proposed cost of the Davis Refinery was $900 million, twice the cost of the Dakota Prairie Refinery west of Dickinson which was built by the huge utility company Montana Dakota Utilities. How was the proposed $900 million Davis Refinery going to be built, by an investor group who had never built a refinery before, who were in fact seeking initial investments to help cover the cost of permitting and planning? My personal opinion is that the proposed Davis Refinery developers have only raised $10 million to $40 million.
A year or two ago the City of Dickinson sold a public parking lot located behind the U.S. Post Office to Odyssey Theaters, supposedly so that they could build an 8 cinema movie theater complex. Most people in Dickinson have noticed that there is a shortage of parking downtown, even more so now that the City of Dickinson sold a public parking lot that was almost always full. Where are the customers of this proposed 8 cinema movie theater complex going to park? Construction was supposed to start this Spring, meaning now, but I don’t think that construction will start this year.
The developers of the proposed Dickinson Hills Shopping Center asked the City of Dickinson about a year ago if the City would pay for the extension of Fairway Street into their development. The City agreed to pay for this $1.3 million road extension if the developers could show that they had lease commitments from tenants. A few months ago the City Attorney Jan Murtha did look over signed lease agreements from Hobby Lobby, T.J. Maxx, Shoe Department Encore, and Dollar Tree. My opinion, is that although these four tenants signed valid lease agreements, there was no penalty to the developer if they did not move forward with construction. My opinion, is that the developer wanted the access road into their proposed development, so that they could sell this property, and not move forward with construction at this time.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, his Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, and Wayne’s cousin Stephen Stenehjem CEO and president of First International Bank & Trust, have all had to deal with embarrassing business fiascoes in Dickinson many times in the past several years: Dickinson State University awarding degrees to foreign students who did not complete the required curriculum; the DSU Foundation having to be dissolved and held in receivership to determine what was going on and where the money went; Hawks Point Assisted Living Facility on the DSU campus failing to repay their loan from First International Bank & Trust; DSU and the DSU Foundation failing to repay their loans for the construction of the Biesiot Activities Center.
People in Fargo and Bismarck are very aware of the business practices and outcomes in Dickinson, North Dakota. The Catholics collected and spent over $75 million in Federal grant money and donations to construct a new hospital in Dickinson, shutting down the old hospital. Many knowledgeable health care employees and residents in Dickinson came to realize that the old hospital that was shut down, had more emergency medical care capabilities, more critical care capabilities, more medical treatment services, and a building with a basement that could withstand a tornado.
Therefore, when a group business people and Dickinson State University people got together and created the Theodore Roosevelt Foundation in order to raise funding to build a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Dickinson, the Governor of North Dakota stepped in and stopped that, No Way. The people in Fargo and Bismarck are fully aware of how the people in Dickinson are. No way were they going to allow a group of people in Dickinson to collect millions in government grants and donations, obtain construction loans, overpay contractor buddies to perform work, get a substandard inadequate facility, not repay the construction loans, and not be able to account for where all of the money went.
It’s not just the business practices in Dickinson that the rest of the state takes notice of, it’s how the people in Dickinson behave and treat other people. This is another reason why the Governor of North Dakota intervened to not allow the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum to be built in Dickinson, because of how the visitors would be treated in Dickinson and how the people behave in Dickinson. Here are some examples:
- During the oil boom, the people in Dickinson quadrupled the rent that they charged the out-of-state workers.
- During the oil boom, the people in Dickinson voted to not allow “Man Camp” temporary worker housing in the county to alleviate the housing shortage.
- Though many, many people in Dickinson received windfall sums of money from oil wells on their property, the people in Dickinson deliberately refused to construct a homeless shelter. Out-of-state workers who could not afford the quadrupled rent, slept in their cars, underneath bridges, in the bushes along the railroad tracks, on the embankments of drainage ditches, or outside behind the truck stop.
- When the ratio of men to women in Dickinson was 3:1, the Dickinson Police made a fake advertisement for a woman offering sex on the internet. When a man called to arrange to meet her, the fake woman made up the statement that she was under 18. The Dickinson Police then tried to charge the man with Commercial Sex Traffic of a Minor, a twenty year sentence, and he never even met the woman.
- The bars and restaurants in Dickinson hire methamphetamine addict and heroin addict criminal women from Spokane, Seattle, and Coeur D’Alene to work as servers, performing no background checks.
- The employers in Dickinson hire drug addict felons with multiple convictions, performing no or inadequate background checks.
Because of the end of the oil boom, the population of Dickinson will continue to decrease for years to come. The people in Dickinson refuse to acknowledge this, and they even point to signs of growth which are actually hoaxes, that will not happen. The very wealthy successful people like the local bank owners know what is going to happen in Dickinson, and they have practices in place that indicate they expect an out migration.
The Governor of North Dakota, the Attorney General of North Dakota, other wealthy successful people in North Dakota know all about the business practices in Dickinson, the business schemes of the people in Dickinson, what they do with government grant money and donations, how they don’t repay loans, how they are unaccountable for money, how the people in Dickinson treat other people, and how the people in Dickinson behave. Not only did they intervene to prevent the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum from being built in Dickinson, they wanted to close down the Women’s Correctional Facility in New England, and they will probably seek the closure of Dickinson State University before long.
In the near future, Dickinson will begin to change more toward what New England, Belfield, and Richardton are like. You don’t understand, this is what the wealthy, successful, influential people in Bismarck and Fargo want. They do not want Dickinson to grow, they want Dickinson to shrink. Not only do they not like Dickinson, and do not believe in Dickinson, they don’t want the oil revenue money from western North Dakota being wasted on improving Dickinson. As far as they are concerned, they would like to see Dickinson as just unimproved grassland, and all of you Dickinson people gone, because you just can’t seem to change and get with the program, you remain backwards.