WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Tyson Foods has listed Sedgwick County as one of three finalists for its $300 million plus facility and estimated 1,500 jobs.
But today the group called #NoTysonSedgwickCounty rallied and invited the public to come and be a part of the protest.
The group says it has questions about Tyson plants and the environment.
A spokesperson for Tyson says the company supports more conversations about its proposed project and they are asking residents here to keep an open mind before making judgments about it.
Saturday the protest group brought in speakers to try to convince Sedgwick County residents that they believe Tyson should locate its new plant, somewhere else.
Dozens of residents, some against the proposed Tyson chicken plant, met early in the morning to talk about their concerns with a plant being near their home. Some signed-up to join the cause.
“I’m happy to see these people, I know that we need to get more information out to the public, and that is what this is going to start for us now,” said Lori Lawrence, #NoTysonSedgwickCounty.
Lori Lawrence, a woman who has worked closely with the Sierra Club in the past, is leading the event this weekend.
The meeting included a question and answer on what a Tyson chicken farm could bring from two people with knowledge of production agriculture. One speaker talked about the impacts on the environment, traffic, and infrastructure coming from some processing plants.
“I’m not anti-industry, I do however think that there are some issues of concern that the industry should address and it has not,” said Don Stull, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at University of Kansas.
People from rural areas and the city attended the event. Lawrence, who started the anti-Tyson group, says she knows there are those in the community who are supporting the plant, while others are just here to begin forming opinions.
And some county commissioners say, while they want the jobs in the county, they are trying to keep an open mind.
“It seems like we’re on the losing end with jobs a lot and this might just be the boost that we need, or it might not be, so lets just explore it,” said Michael O’Donnell, Commissioner, Sedgwick County
Lawrence says her group plan on going to county commission meetings to have their voice heard.
“We are opposed and we want to make sure the county commission understands that,” said Lawrence.
We reached out to Tyson about the meeting and they said in a statement quote, “…no matter where we decide to build, we intend to do our best to answer questions residents will understandably have about the project. In fact, we support their engagement in the process.”
The #NoTysonSedgwickCounty group says this is the first organized meeting and they plan on having more.