Williston rep discusses oil impact
By CHERYL ODDEN
Be prepared to grow.
That’s the message delivered to those who attended the annual meeting of the Garrison Area Improvement Association (GAIA) Monday evening.
Tom Rolfstad, guest speaker, shared information about how the oil boom has affected Williston and other western North Dakota communities. A Williston native who serves as the city’s economic development director, Rolfstad has seen many boom-related issues as they’ve evolved.
Following the theme of the meeting, “Where do we go from here?,” Rolfstad tried to shed some light on how the oil boom might affect the Garrison area.
Since Garrison is, at best, on the fringe of the frenzy, Rolfstad said, “”It’s hard to tell what role you’ll play.” He added, “You’re probably better off to be close to it and benefit from it without being right in the middle of it.”
Giving his perception of the city, Rolfstad said, “You’re blessed; Garrison is one of the great little towns in North Dakota.” He listed some of its amenities as quality of life, peace, close proximity to the lake and its new marina. “I think you have a future with all the amenities here.”
While nobody can predict just how far the oil activity will move east, Rolfstad expressed hope that the Garrison area’s strong suit might be its appeal as a retreat. Noting that many long-time Williston residents, especially baby-boomers, are leaving, he said Garrison might be an attractive place to resettle. Included, he said, are snowbirds who love returning to North Dakota. He said he could envision them choosing Garrison as their North Dakota home. He stressed that one of the draws, and one that shouldn’t be underestimated, is the lake. For those who already use the lake as a summer retreat, he said, “You’re a home away from home.”