ROSS Thanks to the oil boom in western North Dakota, this once vanishing community is now bursting at the seams. The population of Ross is estimated to be six times greater than it was just two short years ago and there is no end in sight. The town's rapid growth is likely to continue if infrastructure can be added fast enough to keep up with demand.
"We got all sorts of issues here with growth," said Ross Mayor Wyatt Seibel. "Water quality is getting bad. We're getting upgraded. Infrastructure is changing as we try to get ready for all the people coming in here."
Ross maybe contained 50 people two years ago. Today the number is 300 or more.
Donna Erickson relaxes for a moment in the temporary living quarters at C-TAP in Ross. With places to stay in short supply, C-TAP included room for a few beds inside their business headquarters in Ross.
"I really don't know where this will end," said Seibel. "It's kind of hard to tell."
"Everybody around here is new people,"added Diane Seibel, city auditor. "There's construction at both ends of town and we just got $2.5 million to put in new water lines."
The demand for housing and building in Ross is happening so quickly that city infrastructure might never be able to keep pace. Black Horse Construction of Wyoming settled in on 280 acres on the northwest edge of Ross. Ross may be outgrowing what it has the ability to govern. If the city continues to bulge, Mountrail County may have to assume some of the costs and responsibilities that go with quick expansion.
Families, individuals and oil field related companies continue to contact the city about living and commercial space. It's a lot for a small town to handle, Perhaps too much.
"People ask every day about expansion," said Diane Seibel. "There's evidence of that everywhere around here with man camps and RV parks popping up. I don't even know the names of them."
Ross is served by two sewage lagoons, both of which remain at full capacity. Improvements are needed but where the money for a new sewer system will come from is anybody's guess. But, without it, further growth will be hampered. While there are rewards, keeping pace with the oil boom can be both costly and frustratiing.