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'No Tyson in Tongie' effort adding supporters by the hundreds

Yard signs such as these, pictured Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, are popping up across Tonganoxie in opposition to plans by Tyson Foods Inc. to build a $320 million chicken-processing plant south of the city.

Jen Peak has watched a community mobilize for a common cause in the span of a week.

She was in downtown Tonganoxie on Sept. 5 when Gov. Sam Brownback and officials from Tyson Foods Inc. announced plans for a massive $320 million chicken-processing plant on two properties along Leavenworth County Road 1 south of Tonganoxie.

With opposition signs in tow, Peak and other members of Citizens Against Project Sunset were at the announcement.

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Protestors line the sidewalks in downtown Tonganoxie on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, as Tyson Foods, ...

The grass-roots movement has existed for just more than a week.

It has a Facebook group with more than 4,200 members as of Tuesday. Its Facebook page has some 1,400 likes.

The group held an organizational meeting Saturday at Chieftain Park in Tonganoxie.

Peak said it was thought the rally attracted about 1,000 people. Laptops were set up to collect information from folks interested in the CAPS movement. She said the group now has about 600 people in the database after Saturday.

“It was a tremendous turnout,” she said.

Interest continues to grow, as “No Tyson In Tongie” signs are a popular item.

“We sold 600 signs in 30 minutes,” Peak said. “We have hundreds of people asking ‘where do I get more signs?’”

Another 600 are spoken for and more will be on their way, she said.

Organizers have urged local residents to reach out to friends throughout northeast Kansas, as they say the plant’s effects will be far-reaching. The proposed plant is about 10 miles from Lawrence and roughly that distance from Eudora.

During the weekend, a Eudora Against Tyson Facebook page was created.

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Area residents gather and sign petitions Saturday at Chieftain Park in Tonganoxie during an informational ...

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Concerning issues

Tyson announced an estimated work force of 1,600 employees. Local residents have voiced concerns about Tonganoxie handling that influx regarding infrastructure and the school system, even if only a portion of the workforce ends up moving to Tonganoxie. The community currently has a population of about 5,500 people.

Opponents also are worried that their property values are going to sink. Water- and air-quality concerns have been at the top of the list, along with employee conditions, as many opponents cite lawsuits and fines against Tyson.

Last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Tyson Foods more than $263,000 for 15 “serious” and two “repeated” workplace safety violations. That was at the company’s chicken-processing facility in Center, Texas.

In 2013, Tyson agreed to pay a $3.95 million civil penalty to settle alleged violations of Clean Air Act regulations covering prevention of chemical accidents at facilities in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

A nationally known activist with Lawrence ties also has joined the conversation.

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Signs like this one have sprouted up throughout the city since the announcement was made ...

Erin Brockovich — who grew up in Lawrence and became an environmental activist with a movie made about her — took to Facebook on Sept. 7 to put her support behind the CAPS cause. In her post, she said she received many messages from Tonganoxie people concerned about the proposed plant. Her post listed various pollution concerns about Tyson.

She also wrote about hearing concerns about the plant being close to Tonganoxie playgrounds, which isn't entirely accurate. “Mothers have sent me photographs of their local baseball field … just blocks from the location of the proposed slaughter house.”

Tonganoxie has baseball fields at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds, but they are a few miles away from the proposed sites near County Road 1, which connects U.S. Highway 24-40 to Interstate 70.

The Sierra Club and the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project have pledged assistance to the cause, Peak said.

Moving forward

Area residents concerned about the proposed plant packed Tonganoxie City Council and Leavenworth County Commission meetings last week.

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Residents spoke out Thursday at the Leavenworth County Commission meeting in opposition to a proposed ...

On Friday, state Reps. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs and Jim Karleskint, R-Tonganoxie, along with Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, will be at Chieftain Park to field questions from CAPS members. The meeting is slated for 6:30 p.m.

At this past Saturday’s gathering in Chieftain Park, Jarret Pruitt spoke to the crowd, encouraging them to be civil and respectful through the process.

He said that some local politicians, business owners and property owners reported feeling unsafe based on actions of some who oppose the project.

Pruitt stressed that CAPS be a peaceful movement.

“We are not bullies,” he said. “We are Tonganoxie.”

The project still must win several key votes from the Leavenworth County Commission before it can proceed, including a vote on a requested tax abatement and a vote to rezone the property for industrial use.

Comments

Jennifer Alexander

Thank you LJWorld for this report. And my mind is blown at the fact that Tyson, a huge corporation would even be requesting a tax abatement for this build. You have got to be kidding me!! Please, members of the Tonganoxie City Commission, listen to your constituents and vote this down!

1 week, 2 days ago

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Steve Jacob

Amazon is a $471B dollar company looking for a second headquarters and want tax abatements. That's the way the game is played today.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Jennifer Alexander

I understand for a "small" business, but for corporations that seems like highway robbery.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Carol Bowen

Is real estate so high in Tonganoxie that Tyson needs tax breaks?

1 week, 2 days ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

It might be the way the game is played, but most of us are tired of getting played.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Jennifer Alexander

Exactly. Abatements for million and billion dollar corporations is not how the game should be played.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Bob Forer

"That's the way the game is played."

Translation:

Huge corporations and wealthy people have an insatiable greed for more wealth.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Steve Jacob

If you hold stocks or invest in a 401K or ETF, it it a CEO's duty to make as much money as possible, without breaking the law or being in front of a Senate Committee.

1 week, 1 day ago

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David Holroyd

And AMAZON is not going to Tongie

What Tongie really wants is NO JOBS!

But I am going for the free wings, legs, and thighs....samples you know...and I bet if they did offer free food those protestors would be the first to eat the chicken samples.

If they want to protest....why not protest Tyson products and see how far they get.

Erin Pattee Brockovich is old and her claim to fame is over,,,so she is just grandstanding this time.

If Kansas had a highway system that linked to I-70 better there are towns that would embrace this opportunity to have the processing plant.

One thing for sure if it is built,,,Tysons should get the names of those not in favor of the plant and when they come from Tonganoxie to apply for a job...Tyson's can say SORRY THERE IS NO ROOM AT THE INN.

That Skeet family on a farm complaining probably are P.O because their farm wasn't bought. And the son is realtor telling everyone to wait before they sell ..he doesn't care, he is a commission man ..6%.

I doubt that house prices will fall 40 to 50%...that is a fabricated lie! If they do, there will be cash buyers as fast as you get to Tongie. WE buy Old Houses and get the monkey off your back...

1 week, 2 days ago

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Laura Green

Wow, you are really out of touch with what people are saying, and calling Erin old, well, you are pretty old yourself!

1 week, 2 days ago

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Jennifer Alexander

Out of touch is right on. The citizens of Tonganoxie want jobs. They dont want factory farms, environmental polluters and a company that mistreats its employees.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Carol Bowen

David, The quality of the jobs and the pay are issues. The people who are driving to Kansas City to work are not commuting for chicken feed. Tyson foods is providing jobs that are not needed as much as jobs that pay $40,000 and higher per year. (Emphasis on "higher"). Do you really think we need just any ol' jobs?

Then there's the issue of tax breaks. Why would a company the size of Tyson need tax breaks in Tonganoxie?

Then there's the question of governor Brownback's stealth efforts with a chicken place and a water park. Wouldn't western Kansas benefit more from the economic stimulus? Even then, low pay means no spendable income.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Matt Westland

Not needed? Do you eat?

Somebody somewhere is planting seeds, raising livestock, planting trees, to feed you. Part of the food chain is a plant like this. If there wasn't a market for chicken products that Tyson makes they wouldn't consider this, but there is.

Why would a company the size of GM or Cerner or Sprint or NASCAR or take your pick "need" a tax break? These questions don't come up when the Milk Producers get tax breaks to move to the state. Did the American Royal get some kind of incentives? There is what was being called the second border war where tax breaks were being offered to get companies to move to Mo or Ks. Did you complain about that?

So you want this plant in western Ks. Why? I would guess that it is because it is N.I.M.B.Y. or not in my back yard. You are too good for a chicken processing plant, right?

2 days, 15 hours ago

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Clara Westphal

Topeka would be more suitable for this type of industry.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

Or even further west. There are communities out there dying that could be revived.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Matt Westland

Nice to know you don't care if a company pollutes somewhere else, that "those kind" of workers work somewhere else.

1 day, 18 hours ago

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Ralph Gage

I predict Tyson will wind up in Abilene, near the Brookville Hotel.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Bob Forer

What do these jobs pay?

1 week, 2 days ago

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Matt Westland

From Tyson, $13-$15 per hour.

2 days, 15 hours ago

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Zac Hamlin

The questions about potential wages, tax abatements and environmental impacts are incredibly important. But for a reason I have not yet seen raised.

How is it possible to sell a whole animal for under $10? A quick search indicated that 99c per pound is a 'fair' market value for Tyson whole chickens. Most chickens weigh less than 10 pounds. So how is it possible to hatch, feed, shelter, transport, slaughter, process, package, transport, stock and then sell a whole animal for under $10? The answer seems clear; pass the cost of infrastructure to the community, pass the cost of environmental damage to the state and pass the cost of poor labor practices to the workforce.

This is a pitiful reach for a 'win' from an ineffectual administration. Mr. Brownback is so hungry for a win he is willing to create a future superfund site to tout the creation of 1600 jobs. 1550 of which will be for poverty wages in a cruel, under regulated working environment. We can do better, and deserve to.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Susan Harper

I hear you, Zak.
People have no idea of the true cost of what they eat.
There should be an awareness of the true cost of food.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Steve Jacob

And I hate hearing about all the people saying how it's an unsafe workplace. Have you ever heard stories from Amarr?

1 week, 2 days ago

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David Holroyd

No one is complaining about the HERE project in Lawrence touted as a $75 million dollar project and is valued for taxes, at $29 million. Not even Carol, Dorothy, or Clara and certainly not anyone in Tongie.

How about a company that makes caskets...would they be happy and work for $9.50 an hour. After all, it is all about supply and demand..and from the most recent JW article folks in East Lawrence and dying sooner than west lawrence folks..that means Carol, Clara and Dorothy are on the list...

And Erin Brokovich what can she do?

Heck,,get all the actors and actresses involved . Maybe John Goodman would come and impersonate the Colonel....and handout samples...

What do any of you think the folks on Strawberry Hill in KCK thought about the packing plants and slaughterhouses...in the bottoms.?

JOBS,,that is what they thought.,

And then the flood of 1951 changed all of that.

Where were you Dorothy,,,did you know anyone that lived at Strawberry Hill, how about you Carol or Clara

Ralph,,,,I thought the Brookville hotel is no longer serving chicken in Brookville...you are out of touch.

1 week, 2 days ago

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Clara Westphal

Sorry, David. You may be yearning for my demise but I do not live in east Lawrence.
You also have a short memory if you think I was for HERE. Try to keep up.

1 week ago

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Keith Lewis

A citizen at the 9/11/17 Leavenworth County Commission meeting stated the broiler growing houses would need to be within 30 miles of the proposed Tyson processing facility north of I-70 on Leavenworth County #1, which is also 222 St. The Tyson Broiler Contractor recruitment site states the growing houses must be within 50 to 60 miles from a Tyson feed mill, for which the land has been purchased near the junction of 24-40 and Leavenworth County #1.
The independent broiler grower is under contract to supply the land, broiler houses, utilities, labor, machinery, maintenance and improvements as encouraged by Tyson to promote efficiency, as well as the bedding and disposal of said bedding and animal waste. Contractor pay is based on a tournament between contractors method of compensation. Tyson furnishes the pullets, medicine, and the feed from their feed mill. Tyson then pays by the contracted pound and processes the finished birds. It's out there, you just have to let it in.
And so, welcome in, country dwelling gentry of Douglas, Leavenworth, Jefferson, Johnson and Wyandotte counties

1 week, 2 days ago

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Harlan Hobbs

Congratulations, liberals and Democrats. You continue to demonstrate why you are the "no growth" party. What you know about economic growth could be put in a thimble.

Just move the plant to western Kansas and let them reap the benefits. Clearly, too many in the Lawrence area are perfectly happy with a stagnant economy. Enjoy!

1 week, 1 day ago

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Monty Scott

Doug Ramsey, group president for poultry at Tyson, said jobs at the plant would offer starting wages of between $13 and $15 an hour.

That's the living wage fast food workers are demanding. This is a, which came first kind of question. Chicken or Egg???

1 week, 1 day ago

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Shawn Boultinghouse

It's so funny when the same people who probably eat Tyson chicken don't want the plant in their back yard. LOL As far as the tax abatement goes, they will find a city/county that will give them want they want. This is exactly how cities/counties attract big businesses to their community. You have to decide if it's worth 1600 pretty good paying jobs or not. Tonganoxie and surrounding areas can benefit from these jobs.

1 week, 1 day ago

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David Holroyd

Housing is a concern a man told me who lives in Tonganoxie...he told the people as I have said...there will not be 1,600 people from Tongie. Wyandotte county could cough up the entire 1,600 not to mention people applying from Johnson county..and then there is Atchison County and the northern part of Leavenworth County and Shawnee County and Jefferson County..NOT Douglas county 'cause no one wants to work from there...not even Dorothy or Carol.

NOW housing just might be solved if a buyer (Tyson's ) was to buy Clearview City...I drove there today and looked around...Dorothy do you know where it is? Carol should now...it is in Johnson County and ripe for re development...

But folks in Lawrence are so narrow minded....they are the rustics of the 21st Century.

Greg Cooper don't you dare read my posts...they get you too excited...

Harlan Hobbs, are you familiar with the EB5 immigration program....this would program might bring investors in the area to raise the chickens......but how many in Lawrence understand that program....it is in play in Kansas already.

Just imagine....Chinese people investing..and you can bet they won't live in Tongie but will buy farms and land and come with CASH...

1 week, 1 day ago

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Matt Westland

This group, in my opinion, are reminiscent of the Tongie of the 1920's. You know that Tongie, the Klan meetings at the fairgrounds. I actually heard one of the speakers at the "Town hall" meeting say "we are very selective about who we want moving into our community".

Lots of talk and fear about immigrants coming to town to live. Drive around the new housing being built here. Do many of these guys look local? The roofers that were in town after the storm, did they look local? No. You don't want folks like that living here but they can come cook your food, roof your house, build your houses, mow your lawns but heaven forbid they actually take up residence.

Go ahead and block my post LJW, the Citizens Against Project Sunset kicked me off their social media for providing an opinion that didn't match theirs and providing actual facts rather than garbage from their google searches. I'm certain my beliefs are polar opposite of yours.

Tyson could be a good deal but you people can't see that. I think I'll move to Johnson County where they don't have a problem with folks that look different living there.

2 days, 15 hours ago

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Carol Bowen

Wow. You certainly do use a lot of stereotypes. Where do you get your information?

2 days, 4 hours ago

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Matt Westland

I use stereotypes? Perhaps you failed to see the examples used by me were to show what this group has stated in public and posted on their FB page (don't know if they remain on their page as I am blocked) and the hypocrisy of ignoring that immigrants are now working in the community vs. not wanting them living in the community. Look on the No Tyson in Tongie Facebook page (they changed their name and booted me from Citizen Against Project Sunset, because I obviously called out their hate filled tactics against local business and the elected officials and provided facts to refute their baseless claims) and see if the post are still there. If not then it is good that they have removed the posts. I only hope they removed the persons posting such trash.

1 day, 20 hours ago

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