Letter to the Editor

Kudos to oil company

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dear Editor,

Thanks to Connie (Jo Discoe), we enjoyed the recent Gazette story and photos about the big oil drilling operation alongside Highway 83 north of McCook, just a mile downstream of the "Willow" dam.

I thought your readers might like to know that while parts of the U.S. oil industry remain frequent targets of criticism these days, it's been my personal experience that Ranch Oil of Greeley is out to break that stereotype.

As a family-owned company, the Dean brothers and their crew have shown me they are willing and able to respond to the needs of landowners and residents in the areas affected by the heavy equipment and traffic, pumping units, storage tank batteries and dusty service roads.

Ranch Oil's land is adjacent to our family's farm, and sits next to the highway on a hill overlooking the Red Willow Creek bottom land and the dam. Besides our neighbors, and the hundreds of recreation area visitors at the lake a mile away approximately 2,000 vehicles per day on Highway 83 also take in this view of Red Willow County's northern border, and the waterway that gave the county it's unique name. 

A couple years ago we contacted Ranch Oil with a request that they remove several large salvage containers that were on our ground from a previous pumping operation.  The discarded tanks represented both an eyesore and a safety concern for our family, pets, livestock, passing and trespassing motorists etc.   

Carl and Richard Dean were very supportive of our effort, and after we contracted a salvage company in North Platte who was willing to cut up the old tanks and remove it all, the oil company agreed to hire local contractor Kevin Tucker to oversee the salvage operation.  It took six months and a lot of worry over possible grass fire from the torches, but in the end about 20 discarded steel tanks and other containers were cut up and "recycled" from our property and from theirs. 

The subsequent value of improved safety on our farm goes without saying, but I would also like to thank Ranch Oil for helping to restore some of our panoramic view of Southwest Nebraska. My family's lived on this ground for nearly 60 years, and although we're biased, we think the Red Willow Valley is a beautiful place. We'd like to do whatever we can to help keep it that way.

Now then ... this new drilling project next door is huge!  It took two dozen semi's to bring in all the gear.  They carved off half a hillside to set up and then lit up the valley with lights.  The activity was 24/7 for a couple weeks, and a bit dusty and noisy. 

But when the dust finally clears and the drilling's done, hopefully some eighty-dollar crude will be found.  Most of the big equipment is leaving this week, and now all fingers are crossed to see if this new hole will produce.

I believe there is good reason to believe the Dean brothers will do all the right things to help their oil drilling and terminal operation fit in with the rural and recreation lifestyles of their residential neighbors in the rural McCook area. 

 I hope they'll consider this request to begin a tree planting campaign right away. All it would take is a planted fence-row of evergreen to screen off most of this oil field facility.  I'm sure the public would appreciate it, and I can't imagine that it wouldn't be good plant security for the oil company too. 

Yes I know there are several other "highway-side" industries on the outskirts of McCook and Red Willow County -- some smelly ones at that, and many are in plain view. Hopefully our new zoning protections in the rural counties will discourage these locations for future businesses that would significantly impact the aesthetic values of the local environment.

This is just one more spot in Southwest Nebraska that needs to be valued and maintained for it's natural beauty ... before they're all gone forever.

Gary Housley


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