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Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Future of Glendive

Letter to the Editor:

I read with great interest your front page article on Sunday May 11,
regarding the growth of Glendive.  I most certainly agree with Mr. Waples who
reflected my observations.  Like me, he must keep up with the ‘goings on’
with the energy business.  Glendive and Dawson County are sure to experience
the same deluge of growth as Minot, New Town, Williston, Dickinson, Watford
City and Sidney…yet everyone here seems to ignore the plight of those
towns.  Forgetting history is a sure sign you’ll repeat it.  It’s not
like we all don’t know it’s coming…it’s not a secret.  But like those
other towns, we’ll just wait until it’s on top of us before we take
notice.  In effect, we’re just going to make a conscience decision to do
nothing.  We’re not going to learn from the mistakes the other communities
have made…we’ll just repeat them.
I think Mr. Waples is correct on being pro-active in this matter.  I’ve
read several stories where the Mayor of Williston has lamented how they took
so long to take action…to guide their growth for the benefit of its
existing citizens and those citizens to come.  Of course, they still have a
long way to go and it’s a mad-house up there.  If Glendive and Dawson
County doesn’t act fast…it will be the same way here.  Somebody needs to
do their research…read the papers and keep up on the Bakken/Three Forks
growth.  Read the tea-leaves, the fields are coming our way.  Sure, there
could  be a bust here…like before.  Sure…pigs could fly too.  The
likelihood this oil is going away anytime soon is remote.  Do you think those
3 new hotels built here in the last few years is an indication the oil is
going away?  Do you think the billions of dollars that BNSF is spending on
infrastructure is because the oil is drying up?  We don’t need to live in
the ‘good ole days’ here…as Mike Ditka once said, “The future is in
front of us.”
This is an exciting time for Glendive.  We could be the envy of towns.  Maybe
if you take a look at the other 49 states in our union, you’ll realize just
how fortunate we are.  Just a few states, namely Texas, Montana and ND are
the envy of the country.  While the other states are going bankrupt with
record unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, crime and declining home
prices…Montana hasn’t even noticed.  Does anyone here feel any pride in
your good fortune?  With about 12% of the known oil recovered, this basin has
a very long way to go, before there’s a bust.  Do you feel any
responsibility to help your fellow Americans?  Don’t you see how this
activity can benefit all of America with cheap energy?  Oil is one
thing…don’t forget all that natural gas.  Since the President is
intending to shut down all coal fired generating plants…we’ll need that
gas to keep our lights on.  A sure way to keep the cost of energy down is to
produce more of it…or would you rather we buy our energy from our enemies
in the Middle East?  Why do we send $700 billion to them every year…when we
have more oil than Saudi Arabia?  What will happen to Europe when Russia is
cut-off from selling their oil?  Europe is another market for our ‘black
I know we tend to want to stick with what is comfortable in life…never take
a chance, never go out on a limb…stay in our ‘comfort zone’.  That
would be nice…but it’s in no way practical in Glendive…it’s not going
away…you’re not going to stop progress.  And why should you for some
personal, selfish reason?  Like in war time. we all need to do our ‘bit’.
I know you read about the crime in the patch.  Sure…they make tons of money
and have no place to spend it.  They’re men alone…you wives know where
that will lead.  Then, why are we not supplying housing for families here?
When a guy is alone up here…far from home, he’s going to get into
trouble.  But, give him a chance to bring up his wife and kids and we have an
instant family.  They join a local church, the wife can teach school or work
at the hospital…it’s a win-win for Glendive.  We need people up here to
work…not only in the oil industry…but everywhere else in town.  We all
complain about the lack of services here…but who lifts a finger to make it
better?  I hear nothing but petty squabbles and territory wars.  It’s a
good thing I’m not the King here…you’d all be mad at me.  Those who try
to stop the wheels of progress are likely to be run over by them.
I meet so many people who come to town looking for a second chance…to live
the American Dream…but we just shun them.  We don’t make it easy for
people to relocate here.  It’s not like there is great weather and a beach
near-by.  There are no natural enticements to get solid families to uproot
their lives and move here.  In addition, we don’t have any civic
enticements in our community.  Most of the negative feed-back I get is the
lack of housing…livable housing.  So many of the available homes are
ancient, run-down, in disrepair.  Drive the pot-hole streets through
neighborhoods in Glendive…they’re crumbling.  Yet, they’re priced like
Another common observation I hear is the lack of local shopping.  We don’t
have any of what these new families are accustomed to having nearby.  No
Walmart, no Sears, no JC Penny, no Menards, no Home Depot, no modern
department stores whatsoever.  That poor K-Mart is jammed…they have no room
to grow.  Why do you think that UPS and Fed-Ex are running around town all
the time?  They’re doing a booming business…bringing in goods that we
don’t have.  Or bringing in goods at a much better price than what is
available here.
Along with that, we don’t have anything for their children to do either.
Moms are concerned about their kids and want them to have a good quality of
life here.  People may sacrifice for themselves, but they won’t compromise
their children’s happiness and well-being.  When they realize the nearest
McDonalds is in Sidney…that’s a sure indication this town isn’t for
them.  When they discover there is no Walmart here…that’s another
indication this town isn’t ready.  What is more American than those two
corporations?  They are EVERYWHERE…everywhere but Glendive.
I know all you ‘old-timers’ want to hang on to the past.  I’m nearing
that age and I understand your claw-hold.  But, Glendive’s future is for
the young…not us.  Its time to pass the baton to the next generation and
get out of the way.  We need to help the next generation seek their dreams
and ambitions.  Our time is almost over…what are we hanging onto?  We watch
our ‘next in line’ leave us…go off to other places to live their lives.
 We can’t keep them here…there’s nothing in Glendive for them.  They
see the world and Glendive reminds them of the old ‘Soviet Block’ of
nations who never caught up to the world.
This community is on the cusp…on the verge of explosion.  So, what’s our
next step?  Are we to ignore it…or embrace it?  Will you be a part of it, a
spectator or an impediment to the future?  That’s the question your kids
are asking.
Ricky Matlock


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