Archive for Friday, September 15, 2017

Legislators vow to oppose proposed Tyson plant in Tonganoxie

State legislators, from left, Rep. Jim Karleskint, R-Tonganoxie; Rep. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs; and Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, are shown at a town hall about a proposed Tyson chicken facility south of Tonganoxie, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.

State legislators, from left, Rep. Jim Karleskint, R-Tonganoxie; Rep. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs; and Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, are shown at a town hall about a proposed Tyson chicken facility south of Tonganoxie, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.

September 15, 2017


— Residents pressed local legislators repeatedly about their stances on a proposed $320 million Tyson chicken processing plant during a town hall meeting Friday in Tonganoxie.

Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, and Reps. Jim Karleskint, R-Tonganoxie and Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs, all said during the meeting at Chieftain Park that they had numerous concerns about the proposed project, but they wanted more information before landing on either side of the issue.

By the end of the night, they had hopped off the fence.

“We came here tonight to hear your voice, your comments, your questions, your concerns,“ Holland said. “We did not hear one single person get up here on this stage tonight and tell us why this Tyson plant needs to come to this community.”

His next comments brought huge cheers from the crowd, estimated at anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 people.

“Given the response we’ve seen tonight, myself, Rep. Karleskint (and) Rep. Dove can unconditionally guarantee to you that we’re going to work to defeat this proposal.”

Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, R-Leavenworth, was not part of the panel, but spoke when area residents took turns asking questions or saying their piece.

“I am opposed to this,” Fitzgerald said, triggering a roar from the crowd and many standing ovations.

Legislators said they were also frustrated by the fact that only a few days’ notice was given before the announcement was made.

On Sept. 5, Gov. Sam Brownback and Tyson Foods, Inc., officials announced plans for a proposed processing plant, hatchery and feed mill south of Tonganoxie on a total of more than 300 acres. The company said at the announcement that it expected to break ground this fall.

If built, the plant is expected to employ 1,600 people. The other six Kansas plants combined employ 5,700, according to a press release given out at the Sept. 5 announcement.

Karleskint, Dove and Holland invited some constituents who had emailed them concerns previously to speak at the town hall meeting.

They then opened it up to Tonganoxie residents, and then Leavenworth County residents.

Jim Bothwell, who is running for Tonganoxie’s school board, voiced concerns about the impact the influx of employees would have on Tonganoxie’s schools. He also voiced concern about anticipated wages.

“It just doesn’t sound like very sound economic development,” he said.

Local residents, one after the next, told of their concerns, many centered on fears of diminished air and water quality.

During the 90-minute town hall, residents continually asked the legislators what they could do to fight the plant.

The elected officials repeatedly told crowd members to contact Leavenworth County Commission members.

Leavenworth County Commissioner Doug Smith, who was in attendance but talking with constituents elsewhere in the park, said Tyson had yet to file a zoning request for its properties south of Tonganoxie.

Smith, who represents Tonganoxie, Basehor and Linwood areas, is waiting for that step.

“There’s nothing to decide until it goes through planning and zoning,” he said.

Loralee Stevens, who is running for Tonganoxie City Council, said Tonganoxie can thrive by attracting tenants to an undeveloped business park near the proposed Tyson properties.

“We have a great plan,” Stevens said. “We didn’t ask for this. We have a plan of our own.”

The proposed plant is about 2 miles south of Tonganoxie and 10 miles from Lawrence.


Richard Heckler 6 months ago

Tyson's contaminated Table Rock Lake then the taxpayers were forced to clean it out.

Tyson's is a threat to water supply and clean water.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months ago

Why Tongie? Is there a high unemployment rate there? I know several people who live there and they all have jobs. I guess I don't know all 5,000 some of them.

Now in southeast and west Kansas, they need more population and more jobs. I thought that was one of Brownback's promises, to revitalize the towns in western Kansas. And is Tyson expanding, or are they closing down and moving another operation, because they have soiled it and need to move on?

Kermit Cottrell 6 months ago

I think these politicians need to do some research instead of just listening to a few loud uninformed voices. I have relatives that work in the Union City, Tennessee plant and are proud of it. Tyson has made major commitments and improvements to that town and county!

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months ago

Good for them. But Tongie doesn't want it. And a couple thousand people is not a few, loud voices, especially in a small town.

Mark Kostner 6 months ago

I can't remember a time when several thousand people got together and were unanimous about something. Tyson should get the message now. This chicken plant has laid a giant egg.

Jeff Goodrick 6 months ago

Tyson has been in Emporia Ks from the 1970's and Emporia has the cleanest water in the country.

Topeka is already over employed, if you want a job in Topeka you can get it, their bringing in employees from Emporia and Manhattan, and still need a hundred more. So their looking for people from KC. Lawrence and Leavenworth. It's $13 per hour and that's better than the Gov. pays.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months ago

How about Great Bend, Coffeyville, Dodge City? How about enticing people to move to these towns? And any of the other countless towns in west Kansas that have even lost their post offices.

Clara Westphal 6 months ago

Emporia has air that will make a person nauseated. Who wants that?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months ago

No lie. If I were blind, I could tell if we were going through Emporia.

David Holroyd 6 months ago

And if you were couldn't do stained glass.

Gerald Kendrick 6 months ago

And your mean spirited comment, even though it allows you to show how sardonic you can be, brings nothing to the discussion.

Barbara Johnston 6 months ago

The jobs within the corporate agricultural feeding operation that pay $12 or $13/hour can involve killing chickens, one person killing hundreds or thousands/day, then taking all that trauma home, resulting in domestic violence. Farmers working for Tyson are under pressure to enlarge their barns at their own cost and some have gone bankrupt doing this. The enormous manure which accumulates over months and years affects air quality and a creates a ubiquitous stench which affects property values, and water quality as the lagoons can leak into public water sources.

Clark Coan 6 months ago

Hey, I know the dude in the first row of the crowd in the photo. He's an environmentalist from Lawrence. I suspect a couple of hundred in the crowd were from Lawrence. Coffeyville apparently would welcome the plant. Garden City, Dodge City and Liberal all have beef packing plants. They would probably welcome the plant. The problem with those cities is the Ogallala water table is dropping fast and those plants use a lot of water.

David Holroyd 6 months ago

It's a bait and switch......A bible printing company is coming instead....sorry no need to apply if you are from Tongie..must be able to read and write and believe in the King James verson.

But the Gideons have a chanch or better yet the MORMONS and housing will not be a problem for them...they bunk 2 to a bed and traffic is no problem..bicycles!

Bob Summers 6 months ago

As long as there is redistribution of wealth, jobs from big corporations are not needed.

Shove off Tyson!

Sam Crow 6 months ago

Dottie, your personal anecdotes are not only boring, they are irrelevant.

Labor statistics demonstrate the current unemployment rate in Tonganoxie is 4.4%; Leavenworth County 4.5% and Douglas County 3.7%. Douglas County alone has 2,300 people that are unemployed. Nobody needs to move here to fill those jobs.

Tyson will not be in Tonganoxie anyway, rather 4 miles south, in Leavenworth County. Tonganoxie city limits are only 2 miles long, north to south. In other words, the distance to the plant will the larger than the town itself. This location is surrounded by miles and miles of nothing.

Though a noisy bunch in Tonganoxie may object to Tyson, the other 94% of the population of Leavenworth County may differ. After abatement, the county will have $1.4 million in new taxes for 10 years. After the 10 years, the taxes are well over 6 million dollars. That buys a lot of county services.

Why not one of the locations you suggest? This location will have instant access to I-70, the major east to west interstate in the county. Apparently some residents of Tonganoxie believe the new exit on I-70 was built for their exclusive use, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. Additionally, easy access to I-35 and I-29, major north/south routes, are less than 20 miles away.

Further, Tyson has a mega distribution center in Olathe that is nearly a million square feet.

Most importantly, that is location Tyson has chosen.

With a 50 million dollar payroll, even after income taxes, that is an over 30 million dollars economic stimulus to the area.

However, you and your fellow pretentious liberals think this business just isn’t good enough for the area.

Steve King 6 months ago

Uh Sam, those miles of nothing are all occupied. Sad. You need to get out more. We don't want it, you can have it.

David Holroyd 6 months ago

Sam Crow, I have said many, many times that the growth in the area will be toward Tonganoxie. because of the highway system you mentioned That is a matter of seeking employers which Leavenworth county did. There are other cities than Tonganoxie in LV county just as there are other cities in Douglas County, Lawrence just happens to be one of them.

I suspect the people in Tonganoxe proper who want it do not want to be identified for fear of the mob mentality protesting...

What does Tonganoxie have to offer for jobs? A school district which must be supported by those employed privately...just like Lawrence is a Governmental employer.

And the private employers are fed up with the tax structure,,that is why they city commission bends over backwards with giveaways all of the time.Van Trust (they may pull a Menard's and not show up) HERE, Bob Schumm condo , Krinitsch...east end of 9th street.

Dorothy does not understand economics and money. After all she had to move from her shop because the rent was too high...and Dorothy do you think that might be to property taxes OR did you really move because you had no business.

Move to Tonganoxie..after all if Tyson's comes property values will drop 59% according to some and the rent should drop..NOT. there are still taxes and overhead . But if the values drop 50% there will be buyers 50% is FAKE NEWS.

LIke I have said, the protestors would probably run off a bible factory. How about a casket maker, would they like that ? There is a funeral home in Tongie, but wait,cremations are popular now. A crematorium south of Tongie would be okay?

Miles of nothing occupied but how many houses?

Gerald Kendrick 6 months ago

It's interesting that after emphasizing that Ms. Hoyt-Reed "... does not understand economics and money ..." you take us through some of the tenets of the Supply-Side creation myth. That fable has decimated the middle-class and made wage stagnation the rule of the day. But if you didn't have my utter disdain there, you made sure to throw in an all caps blast of "FAKE NEWS". So it is now all but certain to me that you are a Trump Reich parrot.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months ago

David, I know exactly what the property tax on that building is, because we were considering buying it. I multiplied my rent and the other tenants rent by 12 months. and the absentee landlord should have been making a nice little profit, especially since he did absolutely nothing to fix the building. Part of it has no air conditioning or heating. It has strong bones, and an investor could do a lot with it, by fixing a few things, but the landlord didn't consider it his job. So it has new people, who will hopefully find the money to buy it, but if they don't the renters will probably move on. I do understand that if you have made an investment in a property, you should take care of it. Otherwise you are a slum lord.

David Holroyd 6 months ago

The legislators are telling the "people " want they want to hear and they want VOTES!

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months ago

Or they are legislators who listen to their constituents, What a concept!!! Why don't those of you who want the plant form a rally?

Larry Sturm 6 months ago

Part of the problem they were blind sided by this announcement one of Sams sneaky tricks like he tried to do with building the power plant in Topeka.

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