Archive for Friday, September 8, 2017

Opposition against proposed Tyson plant in Tonganoxie continues to grow

Residents voice displeasure at Leavenworth County Commission meeting

Residents spoke out Thursday at the Leavenworth County Commission meeting in opposition to a proposed Tyson plant being developed in Tonganoxie, just northeast of Lawrence.

Residents spoke out Thursday at the Leavenworth County Commission meeting in opposition to a proposed Tyson plant being developed in Tonganoxie, just northeast of Lawrence.

September 8, 2017


— Bill Jones took to the podium, his voice cracking.

The longtime Leavenworth County resident told the Leavenworth County Commission on Thursday that he has placed a “For Sale” sign on his property.

He lives near land south of Tonganoxie where Tyson Foods, Inc. plans to build a chicken production plant.

Jones and others opposing the plant took their fight Thursday to county commissioners, less than 48 hours after the Arkansas-based company and Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday announced a planned $320 million Tyson project that would employ 1,600 people in this town of about 5,500 people just northeast of Lawrence. The plant would be about 10 miles from Lawrence.

An overflow crowd attended Thursday morning’s county commission meeting.

Residents voiced displeasure, as they did at Tuesday night’s Tonganoxie City Council meeting, about the proposed plans. Concerns raised included the secrecy that surrounded the project announcement, air and water quality worries, and previous lawsuits that have been filed against Tyson in other communities.

Audience members peppered commissioners with questions about a nondisclosure agreement, voicing frustration that local governing bodies knew about Tyson’s intentions and didn’t inform the public.

But as Tonganoxie City Council members said Tuesday night and County Commissioner Doug Smith reiterated Thursday, elected officials at both levels approved nondisclosure agreements, which is an industry standard in economic development. Smith said county commissioners made the agreement in June, but as was the case with the agreement, learned of the company recently.

Accused during the meeting of selling out to the meat production company, Smith responded.

“We did not sell our souls to Tyson,” said Smith, who represents Tonganoxie’s district.

On several occasions, Smith told residents the best way to let their opinions be known was to sign protest petitions from the Leavenworth County Clerk’s office and return them to the county commissioners, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the Kansas Commerce Secretary, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and even the Environmental Protection Agency.

Smith also said he did not support sewage lagoons as part of the project.

Brownback and Tyson executive Doug Ramsey touted a state-of-the-art facility with an estimated annual $150 million economic impact for the state during the announcement Tuesday at Tonganoxie's Brunswick Ballroom. They also stressed the company would be holding a series of town hall meetings to hear residents’ concerns.

Smith mentioned Thursday the same opportunities would be announced as they are scheduled.

County commissioners previously approved a resolution of intent to issue $500 million in industrial bonds for an 80 percent tax abatement for the project. Tonganoxie also has pledged $1.3 million for sewer infrastructure that would be recouped through sewer fees from Tyson and other anticipated future companies in the area. Both proposals have not been given final approval.

The Tailgate Ranch is a neighbor to much of the proposed Tyson property. Kirk Sours, who works at the ranch and spoke on the owners’ behalf, told the commissioners he and the ranch owners were advocates for agriculture.

“We are not part of this,” Sours said. “My personal opinion is Tyson is not agriculture.”

Jarret Pruitt, who also opposes the plant, voiced concerns about previous lawsuits against Tyson, specifically a 2003 lawsuit in Sedalia, Mo.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice website,, Tyson pled guilty to 20 felony counts of violating the federal Clean Water Act at its Sedalia, Mo., plant. Tyson agreed to pay $7.5 million total to the federal government and the state of Missouri.

Commissioner Clyde Graeber directed county staff to research any other violations against Tyson.

“The chickenization of northeast Kansas will not be tolerated,” Pruitt said.


Amy Long Collins 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I encourage locals to visit places like Dodge City Kansas and others who have bought into the "employment opportunities" jargon. Has anyone thought of the needed infrastructure to allow for housing, schools, and health care for such a large number of people? They will not be paid $13-$15 per hr, only the "managers." Others get minimum wage. Many Tyson plants have been busted for hiring illegals. This is not for the "locals." You will see a mass influx of immigrants starting out by building the plant, then working there. These immigrant families do not believe in birth control; therefore there will be 4-6 children per family. So, 1600 new employees with how many children? Schools will be at best overcrowded and working out of temporary mobile homes with bilingual teachers attempting to manage overcrowded classrooms. Police will be wondering what happened and unable to manage crime. Police, fire fighters, and health care workers cannot communicate with these people; therefore all positions become bilingual positions. What does that mean? We enable the Spanish language and do not hire those who are not bilingual. This has happened all over the country. You and your children's future are at risk. Health care facilities will have to hire translators and waiting rooms will be overcrowded with immigrants. Locals will get frustrated and angry with the changes. The sad part about this is I am from Lawrence and moved to Phoenix where at first I felt like it was a romantic spicy Latino community and craved Mexican food all the time. The harsh reality is that I've been here for 15 years and cannot wait to get out. I once thought people who said anything about immigrants in a negative way were "Racists." I've learned that it is not about race. It's about safety, security, and assimilation. A growing trend in the Hispanic community is to resist assimilation. That means YOU will have to assimilate to their society. The reps are driven in a bmw to the new opening ceremony of the plant to cut the ribbon, then leave to spend their fortune in the high rent districts of Springdale, Arkansas. Once again, rich white people of a 33 billion dollar per year corporation enslaving immigrants and paying minimum wage. According to OXFAM (oxford community for famine relief), employees struggle to cope with denial of basic human needs. Employees urinate and defecate while standing on the line; wear diapers to work; they restrict intake of fluids to dangerous degrees; endure pain and discomfort while they worry about health and job security. Look this up. Do you really want this in your community???? Please educate yourself and take trips across the country to do so!! No, I am not left or right, just experienced. Please walk in the shoes of others before writing opinions and thank your government for allowing an open border for disease, crime, the ability for terrorists to cross, and lack of time for assimilation. We haven't even discussed waste and pollution.

Richard Quinlan 9 months, 2 weeks ago

You do not speak for Phoenix , a proud latino based city, You speak for the trumpie rascists period.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 9 months, 1 week ago

Well, you were talking sense, until you started making broad generalizations about Hispanics not assimilating and other racist comments.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I do not know much about chicken plants, but a large number of people seem to think that this company is not right for a small Kansas town. This company seems to have a pretty checkered track record and perhaps some more attention need to be directed at this decision to "chickenize" Kansas.

Of course the "governor" would approve given the difficultly of attracting any kind of business to "bleeding, flyover Kansas".

Some cooler heads and more concerned parties need to be less optimistic about this "job opportunity" and seek better types of business and employment.

Check it out on might be very concerned.

David Holroyd 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Don't worrry about it....if you don't like it...don't eat chicken...Don't buy chicken...I bet every poster on here has been in a Popeye"s , a Church"s, a Cains. a Slim Pickens and even bought Chester s from Checkers...and had a good chicken dinner at grandma's house

Fred,,,,no business is coming to Lawrence... Lawrence cannot even keep a Pier 1, a Payless Shoe, an Applebees (one closed) and Half Price bookstore, and the list goes on...

Just a reshuffling of the same tenants and the only people making money are the commercial real estate folks with commissions.

Bob Summers 9 months, 1 week ago

It makes no sense to force people to work at a chicken factory when they can get all they need from the government. Chicken plants are dirty for the environment.

Housing, food, medical care from the government is clean and safe for the environment.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.