Kenmare shows growth while other area towns post decline
Posted 3/30/11 (Wed)
Up or down, city officials question Census results
By Caroline Downs
The 2010 U.S. Census numbers were released for cities in North Dakota in mid-March, nearly a year after the count was taken.
The state itself is home to 672,591 residents, an increase of 4.7 percent over the 2000 Census numbers.
However, that increase was not spread uniformly across the state, much less a particular region. The results show an increase in population for Kenmare and Carpio, and declines for Berthold, Donnybrook and Tolley, although those numbers were questioned in some cases.
Kenmare tallied 1,096 residents in 2010, up 15 people or 1.39 percent from the 1,081 total in the 2000 Census.
“I thought there’d be more growth than that,” said Roger Ness, mayor of Kenmare, “but a growth of only one and a half percent is better than nothing. If you look at some of the surrounding towns and see we had an increase compared to them, that’s positive.”
Both Ness and city auditor Ralph Hoversten questioned the numbers, believing the total population count could be higher. “I know we had some young couples move in over the summer, with children,” said Hoversten. “The numbers are close, but I think we’re a little higher now than we were a year ago. I’d put us closer to 1,150 to 1,200 people.”
He noted several citizens expressed frustration with the Census methods last spring after the forms were mailed to physical addresses, rather than the Post Office boxes used by most Kenmare residents. Most of the forms could not be delivered, and Census workers had to complete the count by going door-to-door in parts of town.
Kenmare saw an influx of new residents during the summer of 2010, and a transient population of workers has established a base in the city’s campground next to Ness’s business, the Pizza Hub. “There are at least 30 people living there,” he said, “and I don’t know where they got counted. At different times of the year, the population is going to be different in our town.”
He and Hoversten agreed Kenmare’s population would keep growing if more housing could be made available. “More housing would bring in more young families,” said Hoversten, who receives several phone calls each week regarding rentals and real estate for sale.
Ness said some of the new storage units rented out by Kenmare One Stop have attracted Stanley residents who are keeping household goods there until they can find a place to live in Kenmare. “The need is there,” he said. “Hopefully, we can get something going. We’re asking ourselves ‘What can we do to make it work?’”
The Kenmare Planning and Zoning Commission has been working with the city engineer to determine ways to best meet the community’s housing needs. “We’re looking at all kinds of options,” said Ness. The group will hold its next meeting on Thursday and hopes to have a plan in place within the coming weeks.
Berthold mayor Alan Lee didn’t quite agree with the 2010 count for his city. According to the official tally, Berthold’s population dropped by 12 people, from 466 in 2000 to 454 last year, a decrease of 2.58 percent.
“I would question that, just by observation,” he said. “We’ve got new homes in town, and the people moving in are mostly young families with children. Looking at the school numbers and all the activity around town, I’d say [the count] would be higher.”
Berthold is becoming a hub for oilfield activity west of town, and a portion of Berthold’s population is transient. However, Lee said as soon as one family moves out of the mobile home park, another moves in. “Our housing in town is full,” he said. “I’m aware of only one house available right now, and we have two new single family homes that were just built, but they’re already sold.”
Like their counterparts in Kenmare, the Berthold city council and Zoning and Planning Committee is discussing options for additional housing, including apartments. “We’re doing an engineering study right now,” Lee said. “We have to look at our lagoon size and the number of people we can add to what we have.”
Some populations grow,
while some shrink
The population of Carpio grew by 6.08 percent with an increase of 9 residents, from 148 people in 2000 to 157, according to the 2010 Census. In recent years, the city has appealed to people who commute to Minot for work but enjoy the benefits of a small-town atmosphere.
Tolley, on the other hand, declined from 63 residents in 2000 to 47 in 2010. The net loss of 16 individuals, or 25.4 percent of the population, did not surprise Mayor Jack Zeltinger.
“A lot of the elders have died,” he said, “and we’ve had few new families move in.”
Donnybrook lost an even larger share of its population, with a difference of 31 people or 34.44 percent from 2000 when 90 individuals were counted to 2010, when the Census tallied 59 residents.
City auditor Gayle Lawson agreed the city’s population had dropped, but not to the degree the Census figures showed. “We’re coming up with 70 to 75 residents,” she said by way of an estimate. She added that some of Donnybrook’s residents travel during the winter or have another residence for a few months each year.
She also estimated that at least four new families had moved to town during the past 10 years.
Like other communities in Ward County, the number of new residents that could move in is limited by the number of places they could call home. “There’s no housing available,” Lawson said. “Everything is full.”
And similar to Kenmare’s Census form woes, several Donnybrook residents believed they were missed in the count. “A number of people commented they were not notified,” said Lawson. “I know we didn’t hear from the Census for a long time. They were already publishing the preliminary numbers before we were contacted.”
Ward County itself increased from 58,795 residents in the 2000 count to 61,675 in 2010, growing 4.9 percent. The city of Minot grew 11 percent from its 36,567 population in 2000 to 40,888 as of the 2010 Census.
However, not all communities in the surrounding area followed suit. (See table for actual Census numbers.) In fact, only five of the state’s 17 oil-producing counties showed growth, including Mountrail, Williams, McKenzie, Stark and Ward.
Four counties in the oil-producing region lost more than 10 percent of their populations between 2000 and 2010, including Golden Valley, Burke, Billings and Bottineau.
Regarding individual cities in the region, Bottineau dropped 5.35 percent, Burlington’s population fell 3.28 percent, and Mohall decreased 3.57 percent.
Heading west, Bowbells declined 17.24 percent, Flaxton’s numbers fell 9.59 percent, and Lignite lost 10.92 percent of its population. Crosby dropped 1.74 percent and Powers Lake decreased 9.39 percent.
Stanley, Ray and Tioga all saw growth at 14 percent, 10.86 percent and 9.33 percent respectively, but Kenmare mayor Roger Ness pointed at Parshall’s net loss of 78 people, or 7.95 percent. “Even some of the towns in the heart of the oil field lost population,” he said.