Downward flow’s ripples: Oil, gas downturn hitting counties on many levels

These days, the Ness County Courthouse is relatively quiet – compared to the activity of the past few years.

Not that long ago in Ness City, where the local motel is called the Derrick Inn, the courthouse was packed with people delving through leases in search of oil.

“When they did the horizontal drilling, we would have people sitting in the hall,” said Ness County Clerk Renee Kerr of the oil exploration workers, then added, “There aren’t as many cars parked here as there used to be.”

Ness County officials are grappling with a $36 million drop to the county’s overall valuation – largely due to the bust in the oil industry.

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