GROWING INDUSTRY ?Honestly, the numbers are staggering. A recent report sponsored by the North Dakota Petroleum Council found the oil industry had a $30.4 billion impact on the state's economy in 2011, up from $4.4 billion in 2005. The industry included nearly 41,000 full-time jobs, roughly 9 percent of the state's entire workforce. It's been a truly remarkable rise for the state's oil industry, which has North Dakota ranked second in the nation behind only Texas in oil production. The actual numbers associated with the oil industry are probably higher, considering the study used data from 2011. The state produced a record 243 million barrels of crude oil in 2012, a dramatic jump from 2011's 90 million barrels. We knew the economic impact would be enormous, and the numbers show exactly that. Of course, the growing economic impact also brings with it significant challenges, including dramatic effects on the state's outdoor traditions and towns and cities in the oil region that are struggling to keep up with the population growth associated with the boom. It's a challenging time, to be sure, and the challenges will continue as long as the oil industry continues to grow.
BIG RAFFLE Remember when everyone was up in arms about the West Fargo Hockey Association holding a gun raffle as part of a fundraising event? Well, the raffle has been postponed to April 13 because organizers expected such a large turnout that they had to find a bigger venue. The event was to have been held last Friday, but the association moved the raffle to April 13 and moved it to a location in Fargo instead of West Fargo. After state and national media outlets reported the story, ticket sales skyrocketed, according to organizers. The gun raffle is certainly nothing new in North Dakota, where similar raffles are held annually by a wide variety of organizations, including outdoor groups, church groups and sports organizations. No doubt the West Fargo Hockey Association is happy for the free publicity regarding its event.