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OT Serves as Bond Counsel for City of Williston on Largest USDA Rural Development Loan to Date

by | Jan 18, 2021 | Municipal Bonding and Financing, Uncategorized |

Williston, North Dakota – On November 19, 2020, the City of Williston, North Dakota, closed a $95,000,000 direct loan and a $19,000,000 loan guarantee with the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development (“USDA”) through its Community Facilities Program. The Community Facilities Program offers direct loans, loan guarantees, and grants to develop facilities in communities across rural America.

John Shockley, a shareholder at Ohnstad Twichell, P.C., serves as bond counsel for the City of Williston and served as Bond Counsel for this transaction. Mr. Shockley noted, “This is a major milestone for the City of Williston and the XWA Airport will serve the community as a long-term infrastructure investment.  The best part of my practice is being part of these important community projects and assisting communities to secure financing for these projects.”

The transaction is particularly momentous because the loan is the largest in USDA history to date. The Rural Development investment will refinance existing local debt incurred to construct the Williston Basin International Airport (the “XWA Airport”). The XWA Airport replaces an older facility that was overwhelmed with traffic during the Bakken oil boom. It includes a longer runway to accommodate larger plans, a crosswind runway for smaller planes, increased passenger amenities, and additional hanger space. The new facility will provide ongoing airport services that will serve the City of Williston’s growing population and the region into the future.

“The XWA Airport is a centerpiece in our community that we are proud of as it is key to our economic growth.” Hercules Cummings, Finance Director for the City of Williston, said. “Completion of the XWA Airport financing is a major milestone. Mr. Shockley played a vital role as he provided the legal counsel responsible for title opinions, resolutions, control agreements, tax compliance, certifications, and essential USDA documents among many other functions.”

“As the elected Finance Commissioner at the City of Williston for twenty-five years, it has always been a pleasure working with our bond counsel at Ohnstad Twichell, P.C.” Brad Bekkedahl, Finance Commissioner for the City of Williston, said. “I have seen the expertise of Mr. Shockley work to our benefit for many years in multiple municipal finance engagements. The XWA airport is not only built and operational, but secure in its long term financing due to the diligence of Mr. Shockley. We could not be more pleased with the continued support to our community.”


Attorney John T. Shockley is Nationally Recognized Bond Counsel who holds Special Assistant Attorney General status in North Dakota. He has specialized in the areas of public infrastructure and public finance for the past fifteen years. He is an active member of the National Association of Bond Lawyers and has served as bond counsel for numerous multi-million-dollar bond issues, tackling tough issues on the cutting edge of bond law.

Mr. Shockley was hired as an associate attorney at Ohnstad Twichell, P.C., in 2005. He was promoted to shareholder in 2010, and he now serves as Vice President of the firm. With his practice entirely devoted to public infrastructure and public finance, Mr. Shockley has extensive knowledge and experience in public projects. As Nationally Recognized Bond Counsel, Mr. Shockley possesses specialized expertise in the area of municipal bonds. He is recognized bond counsel for the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and was appointed Special Assistant North Dakota Attorney General for the Bank of North Dakota Rural Development loan division in 2008. Mr. Shockley serves as General Counsel and Bond Counsel for the Metro Flood Diversion Authority, which is facilitating the first public-private partnership in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.