Tioga native lobbies for town

Tioga will have a paid advocate working with state lawmakers in this session.

With $12,000 in money from the Tioga Fund, the city hired Robert Harms to lobby in the state legislature.

Tioga officials had expressed concern that the city wasn’t always getting its fair share of grant awards and other disbursements from the state.

Harms is a Tioga native and held a private law practice in town for 12 years, during the second oil boom of the 1980s.

“I have a heartfelt interest in how well my hometown does, and I still consider it my hometown,” Harms said.

Since 2003, Harms has been the owner of The Harms Group, a Bismarck firm that specializes in consulting in oil and gas matters in northwest North Dakota. He was also an adviser for Gov. Doug Burgum during his campaign.

Money is much tighter in this session, and 40 percent fewer lobbyists are registered compared to the end of the last session.

-- Tioga Tribune

Courthouse project going fast

Inside the Divide County Courthouse is a flurry of activity, rather than snow, now that the addition is almost closed in.

The project is tracking about three weeks ahead of schedule, project manager Mike Ragsdale said at a recent county commission meeting.

All the concrete floors are poured, the interior framing is nearly complete, and contractors are installing electrical and plumbing systems.

Drywall started going in last week on the ground floor, which the Sheriff’s Department will occupy. The second floor includes a meeting room, with a judge’s chambers, jury room and social services on the third floor.

Ragsdale and architect Anthony Enright told commissioners they anticipate winding up construction at the end of May, allowing employees to start moving into the new space in June.

As departments are relocated, Ragsdale said his crews will move to remodel the existing courthouse. Part of that remodeling includes removing the old restrooms, which are falling into disrepair.

--The Journal, Crosby

Bowmanite buys Bowbells bar

In 2015, Doris Webb was working in Kenmare but, tired of living in her camper, found a home in Bowbells.

Last October, she made a rather quick decision to purchase the Joint bar in Bowbells as well.

“The Joint came up for sale and, without a doubt, I knew it was something I was looking for,” said Webb, who is originally from Bowman but had moved to Florida years ago before recently heading to the oil patch in search of a new life.

She first worked in the Stanley area, then landed another job at the Cenex convenience store in Kenmare. Working with food was her forte in Florida, where she had owned and managed various establishments.

Webb said business in Bowbells “has been really good,” despite the harsh winter, and she is grateful for the opportunity.

-- Burke County Tribune, Bowbells

Family gives Bakken a new try

Savanna and Chance Freeman are hoping their second move to Watford City won’t be another temporary stop.

Chance Freeman first started here in May 2014 as a welder with Nuverra. He had been frustrated with the lack of welding work in the Missoula, Mont., area where he and his wife grew up.

Savanna Freeman and their son joined him in Watford City later that year, but she said she isolated herself and “couldn’t wait to move home.”

As the price of oil dropped, the Freemans went back to Montana and soon had a second child, but Chance’s frustrations remained; Savanna Freeman said they were barely making ends meet.

They returned to Watford City in November but said they want to do it differently this time.

“We are wanting to invest in people and in this community,” Savanna Freeman said. “I took for granted what it can offer us.”

Savanna Freeman said the first thing she did was find a play group for their children and became close friends with some of the parents. Now the couple is planning to buy a house.

-- McKenzie County Farmer, Watford City