August 1, 2013

Seeking a vision for New Town

Seeking a vision for New Town
By Jerry W. Kram

It is pretty evident to a lot of people that New Town will be a different place in a few years. Energy development, for good or ill, is reshaping western North Dakota and the entire Fort Berthold Indian Reservation along with it.
Tom Hale is a person who thinks the residents of New Town can shape the future of the community. He is the vice-chairman of the North Segment Development Corporation. Hale organized a meeting Wednesday for Main Street merchants to meet with developers, architects, engineers and other experts to help create a vision for developing, in Hale’s words, “a real new town in New Town.”
Hale asked North Segment Tribal Council member Ken Hall to describe the work the MHA Nation is doing to promote development on the reservation and especially around the New Town area. He said the tribe is looking at several areas for development, including the Hidatsa Hills west of New Town, the area around the old North Segment Hall and a tribally owned area in Van Hook as areas for residential and commercial development. Hall said the next few years aren’t going to be easy, but this is a unique opportunity to remake the region.
“These are challenging times,” Hall said. “Things will never be the same. It is time to think different. If there was every a time for that, it is now.”
Hall said the tribe is enjoying good relations with North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple. Hall cited the new tax agreement with the state that will bring between $400 million and $600 million in new revenue to the MHA Nation over the next two years.
“We have a window of opportunity,” Hall said. “We have a chance to build things that are sustainable for our children and their children. There are going to be challenges. We need to work to keep a clean and healthy environment for our children, and that will be hard. But we have the resources to do that now.”


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