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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published March 03 2012

Williston provides second chance for Detroit couple

WILLISTON, N.D. – To Detroit native Rhonda Bradley, moving to Williston was a prayer answered.

Rhonda’s husband, Charles, drove truck for an automotive supplier and saw his hourly wage cut in half when the auto industry “took a nosedive,” Rhonda said. The family went through home foreclosure and was behind on rent and other bills.

“We were in some dire straits there,” Rhonda said.

Then they saw an ad for truck drivers in Williston.

At first, they thought the job was only for the summer, but it turned out to be a permanent position.

With their two daughters and one son grown and on their own, Rhonda, 46, and Charles, 49, decided the timing was right to relocate to North Dakota.

“We were kind of excited about a change,” Rhonda said. “We looked at it as an adventure.”

Charles moved first to make sure it was the right move for the family. His first impression was being surprised by the distance between towns and the lack of trees.

“I was like, ‘What in the world am I getting myself into?’ ” he said.

Charles works 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. hauling water to oil sites for Key Energy.

Rhonda joined him in Williston a little more than a year ago and liked the small-town feel and the laid-back atmosphere.

“To come from the hustle and bustle of Detroit where you always had to be suit and tie, skirts and stockings to just jeans and slacks … this is wonderful, this is marvelous,” Rhonda said.

Rhonda, who worked as an administrative assistant in Detroit, said she always wanted to work in the legal field, but in Michigan it was tough to find a job without three to five years of experience.

In Williston, she was able to get a job as a legal secretary for McKennett Law Firm.

“They were willing to teach. I was willing to learn,” she said.

Rhonda handles probate cases involving mineral rights. She also takes classes online in the evenings to become a court reporter.

Even though they’ve watched the cost of living in Williston go up since they arrived, the couple has been able to pay off the rent they owed, rebuild their credit and save for retirement, Rhonda said.

“Had we not come when we did, I don’t think we’d be in as good of shape as we are now emotionally, mentally, spiritually,” Rhonda said. “It all takes a toll on you, definitely.”

Dalrymple is a Forum Communications Co. reporter stationed in the Oil Patch. She can be reached at adalrymple@forumcomm.com

or (701) 580-6890.