Out-of-state license plates seem to becoming more and more common in North Central West Virginia, signs of the oil and gas industry moving into the region, WBOY-TV, Clarksburg, W. Va., reported.
But the rural communities don’t have the capacity to house these workers in traditional ways.
“All these people need to stay someplace. This area is somewhat rural. So our people, by and large, seem to want to live in campers,” said Jim Bender, operations manager for Benton-Georgia, LLC a pipeline contractor for Marc West Midstream.
Jeremy Sutton owns Ashley Campground. He planned on fixing up the site before opening it up to the public. But when the demand is there, sometimes doors open sooner rather than later.
“They just came to me and asked if they could fill the campground up. And while we were working on it, I didn’t care,” Sutton said.
Part of the draw to campgrounds is the lack of alternative housing. Apartments, rentals and hotel/motel rooms are anything but abundant.
“That’s all they have to stay. There’s not very many choices in Doddridge County,” Sutton said.
Some workers will take any available apartment. But others choose to bring their home with them.
“Gives you some resemblance of home,” Bender said. “That is home for these people. Our work is transient by nature, therefore our workforce is also transient by nature. And that’s not something just anybody can do.”
“They are there pretty much at evenings, at night,” Sutton said. “And on Sundays, I believe they don’t work on Sundays.”
Not everyone welcomes the oil-and-gas industry and its workers to the area.
“Change is tough for anyone to adapt to,” Bender said. “This area is so rural, and the roads are so old that we absolutely do impact the traffic.”
And some even discourage those who do.
“Somebody is gonna do it, no matter what,” Sutton said. “And you know, while they are here. It’s good for everybody, I mean the restaurants.”
“It all has a trickle down effect,” Bender said. “The people that come in here that are transient still need provisions and they buy locally.”