Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I never thought my hometown of Sidney, MT would make the National news because of a missing math teacher. Things like that just don’t happen in the small, sleepy town that I grew up in. My parents are buried there and lived almost all their lives there.

arnold Sherry Arnold was out for a morning run and never came home. She is a distant relative of mine. Her Grandmother and my Grandfather were brother and sister. Not sure what relation that makes us. My prayers are with her family and with her.

triangle Then this morning the Triangle burned down. This night club was an institution in Sidney since before I was born. For very special occasions Dad would take us out to dinner at the Triangle so we could have their baby sirloin special. So many special memories there.


But things change.

Sidney is in extreme eastern Montana, only 11 miles from the North Dakota border. I know some of you have read about the Bakken Oil boom that has hit Williston, ND. The Bakken is a formation of shale source rock covering about 200,000 square miles of North Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan. It is currently the largest known reserve of light sweet crude in North America.

Sidney is 50 miles from there. There is no available housing in Williston, no campgrounds, no motels because of the oil workers that have come into that area. A lot of that falls over into Sidney. You can’t find a house to buy or rent or an RV site anywhere in Sidney either.

oil rig

Places like McDonalds, the grocery stores, the shops, the restaurants cannot find enough workers because every one can make so much more money in the oil fields. McDonald’s was offering $11 an hour and still couldn’t hire anyone.

The population of Sidney has increased from less than 5,000 people to more than 6,000 people. The water and sewage systems cannot handle this great influx in such a short time. Bars are doing a booming business. Definitely not how I remember my hometown.

DiFonzo said he can feel the growing pains in Sidney — a town of about 5,000 only 10 miles from the border with North Dakota — as people pour in from out of town, chasing the money brought by the Bakken oil boom.

Police Chief, Frank DiFonzo has seen it before — the last time there was an oil boom in the 1980s. "We have a lot of activity now at this part of the state." "A lot of out-of-state people are here to work, and locals don't know them or recognize them."

The influx has increased crime, and Chief DiFonzo said officers are responding to more bar fights, domestic violence and drunken driving. "We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg," he said.

My Dad was Mayor of Sidney for many, many, many years. He was Mayor during the boom of the 1980’s and I know it broke his heart to see the crime that came to his beloved city. I’m glad he’s not here anymore to see it happen again.



  1. I have heard about the oil boom there and the resulting problems.

    I really hope your 2nd cousin will be found well and unharmed. I will add her to my prayers.

  2. Interesting post. It's a shame that the oil boom has brought so many negatives along with it.

    Maybe it's good you're not living there anymore, that would be harder to take.

    Hang on to those happy memories. Hopefully a happier time is in store for your hometown in the futuer.

  3. Places, like people, grow up. Some for the better; some not. I'm sorry yours is not right now but better days may come again.

  4. Living in a suburb of Indianapolis, I can relate. It used to be that when I went shopping, I would know each person that walked by. Not anymore. AND the crime rate has increased. Bummer

  5. A friend of mine went to a prayer service for Sherry at St. Matthews Catholic Church last night. We also pray for her safe return.

  6. So sorry to read all the horrible happenings. We will say a prayer for the safe return of Sherry.

  7. I said the same thing about being glad Grandpa wasn't around to see all this :( It would just break his heart to see HIS city in such a slump :(

  8. Yes Sandie, As you know, I too grew up in Sidney, Graduated from there in 1958 and a couple years later my guy and I married and it's been just about 52 years since we've lived and on for awhile and moving here to Billings in 1965 and just visiting the folks there until they moved away to New Mexico to be with my brother Dr. Robbie because he had M.S. and a really bad case of it, which took his life about 3 years ago....thank goodness both of the folks passed before he did....I think it really would have been hard for both of them to lose another son. My brother Randy died of polio in 1952 and is buried there in Sidney ...just like your folks Sandy. In fact, when the folks
    sold their farm and moved into town...their house was in the next block from the current H.S. there....and looks like just beside the hiway where Sherry was supposed to have been last seen.
    I read an article that a Rau girl wrote and another one too that the search has NOT been called off..only the ground search and the FBI has taken over.
    Bless them all....Sherry and her whole family (which includes you Sandie) and all of her friends...we are praying for her safe and sound return. GOD BLESS.

  9. That is a shame about what is happening there. It seems ironic that boom and the bust can bring the same kind of crimes :(

  10. Do you think the disappearance and the fire could be related?

  11. I saw something in the newspaper about the missing woman in Montana, and wondered if it was anywhere I had been last year. I just love what I've seen of Montana and hate to think about it coming to this.

  12. Oh that is really sad to loose those great old buildings with such memories. Also about your cousin? Such mysteries....

  13. Sandie, it is just the same development which happened in Alberta and now in Saskatchewan. These industries bring a lot of business to town, but also a lot of problems. I hope that teacher turns up again - alive!

  14. We only want places we're familiar with to bring good news. However, it seems the good news doesn't appear to be as newsworthy as the bad news. The more a town grows, the more problems it has. Take care.

  15. Very sorry to hear about your missing cousin, I sure hope she is found safe.

    I saw TV stories about the big oil boom and all the various problems associated with it. I guess they're in for a long period of growing pains.

  16. I sure hope they find your cousin, that it would be so awful. Growth like that always comes with lots of issues, hopefully they will find a way to deal it as time goes on.

  17. My rural hometown was wiped off the face of the earth because of dioxin and so I know how you feel about symbols of childhood disappearing. Though the memories are still in our hearts and our minds, physical symbolizm is sometimes still needed.
    I pray they find your cousin soon and find her well...that would be very scary.

  18. Growing pains like that for a small town must be tough, with such rugged folks that are used for the oil industry. Feel so bad for the townspeople who are having such drastic changes to their little town. Sigh.

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  19. Growing up in a small town of about 2000 people I can only imagine the troubles and hardships something like this would cause. Sad for the residents of Sidney.

  20. I feel so sad for the missing woman, her family and the town. I am glad you wrote such an honest post.

  21. Sorry hearing about Sherry and that she is found OK. Hard to believe all the problems people create over oil the world over.

  22. Sandie,
    Just heard on the noon news...they found Sharie dead...two people taken into other news on it Sooooooo Sad !! I feel so sorry about it.

  23. Hi Sandie....thanks for all this info....I've been following the story about the oil boom in Montana.




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