Overflow crowd airs grievances at Tonganoxie council meeting after plant announcement surprises residents

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TONGANOXIE, Kan. -- People expressed their anger on Tuesday night over a new Tyson plant announced for Tonganoxie. Many say they didn`t know about it, and don`t want it there, and stood in lines for hours waiting to let the city council know how much they oppose the plant.

The calm and quiet small town feel of Tonganoxie is why many residents say they picked it as a place to live.

"Everyone who knows Tonganoxie knows this is a bedroom community. That`s why they moved here," Garret Neeld said.

But with one announcement, some say that sense of calm has been threatened.

"Had we had any idea they would have turned this into an industrial area we would have never bought here. That would have been a big factor in where we chose to live," Neeld said.

Land near 222nd and Hemphill is where Tyson Foods wants to build a 320-million dollar plant, hatcher, and feed mill out in the county.

"Six months ago I couldn`t have told you where Tonganoxie is. I can tell you today Tonganoxie, Kansas is the center of the Tyson universe today," Doug Ramsey, Tyson Group VP of poultry, said.

But residents told city leaders: "no way." The biggest point of contention is that the city signed a non-disclosure agreement with Tyson because it`s publicly traded, which kept the city from opening it up to public comment before the plant was announced.

"I feel that you guys failed us and I think most of these people feel the same way," said John Conrad.

The city says it`s only handling the sewer portion of the project, and said most of the questions would be better suited for the Leavenworth County Commission.
Council members encouraged residents to continue to voice their concerns, but many feel it`s already a done deal.