NORTH DAKOTA GROWING Not surprisingly, North Dakota leads the nation in population growth, according to information from the Census Bureau. Data shows North Dakota's population at 699,628 residents, up nearly 15,000 people from last year. The state's population grew by 2.17 percent in the past year, almost three times faster than the national average. Certainly the growth is fueled by the ongoing oil boom in western North Dakota, where workers have come from all across the country in search of jobs. Now, the harder part will be retaining those workers if and when the oil boom ever begins to show signs of slowing down, which it hasn't yet. But the continued population growth also brings its share of issues, including a lack of housing, strains on infrastructure and overcrowding in some area schools. Yes, it's good the state is growing in population instead of losing residents, but there remains much work to be done in the state to accommodate the new residents, and the longtime North Dakotans as well.
NEW HOSPITAL Trinity Health and the Trinity Health Foundation plan a capital drive for a proposed new hospital in Minot, with estimates ranging from $300 million to $400 million for a new facility that would be built in southwest Minot. Trinity officials said this past week that they have been soliciting input from community members and selected area business people, and will also be talking with the medical community and other foundations as the process continues. Randy Schwan, a Trinity vice president, said "We are committed to the fund drive and this needs to happen." He is right. Trinity's current main facilities struggle to adequately serve the growing population of Minot and the surrounding region, and the prediction is for the region's population to keep growing. Trinity is right in its stance that a new facility is the best way to serve the region's medical needs.