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Land Board grants $8 million to Watford City for infrastructure

BISMARCK — The state Land Board voted unanimously Monday to grant a special request by Watford City and the McKenzie County School District for $8 million in energy impact grant dollars to help pay for infrastructure needed to support a new $50 million high school and residential development.

Board members also committed to providing the school district with an additional $3 million next year from the state’s Oil and Gas Impact Grant Fund to help cover utility construction costs related to the high school approved by voters earlier this month.

Engineers estimate the cost at $23.3 million to install roads, sewer and other city infrastructure to support the new school.

Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford said last week that the city and school district decided to seek contingency dollars from the Land Board now rather than wait for the next regularly scheduled grant round in July so that construction could begin as soon as possible.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who chairs the five-member panel officially known as the Board of University and School Lands, said in a news release, “We will continue working with local officials in the state’s oil and gas region to address the dynamic challenges of rapid growth.”

The other Land Board members are Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Secretary of State Al Jaeger, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler and State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt.

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