If residents of Leavenworth County don’t want a Tyson Foods poultry plant, the mayor of Union City, Tennessee, said he would be glad to have it in his community.

If residents of Leavenworth County don’t want a Tyson Foods poultry plant, the mayor of Union City, Tennessee, said he would be glad to have it in his community.

“We’ll be happy to take it,” Terry Hailey said.

The mayor said the new plant could be built next to an existing one in Union City.

Tyson Foods opened its Union City plant in 1996. This was the last time the company built a poultry plant, according to Tyson Foods spokesman Worth Sparkman.

Officials from Tyson Foods are now proposing to build a new $320 million poultry complex south of Tonganoxie.

Many in the Tonganoxie community have been voicing opposition to the project.

They have been expressing concern about the possible environmental impacts and odors associated with the plant. They also have expressed concern about the plant attracting migrant workers, and how that may impact the community.

Hailey said there were similar concerns in Union City when a poultry plant opened there. But he said those issues have never come to pass.

“Our relationship with Tyson Foods has been outstanding from the get-go,” Hailey said. “They’ve done everything they said they would do.”

Hailey, who has served as mayor for 30 years, said the Union City plant employs about 1,100 people. He said 395 more jobs should be added in the next year or two as the plant expands.

He said the plant in Union City produces Chicken McNuggets for McDonald’s.

“As far as the facility is concerned, it’s very nice,” Hailey said. “It does not smell, never has.”

Tyson Foods officials have proposed building a processing plant, hatchery and feed mill near Tonganoxie. The complex would employ about 1,600 people.

The facility would produce pre-packaged trays of chicken for grocery stores around the country. The facility would be capable of processing about 1.25 million chickens per week.

This past week, Tyson Foods officials arranged for several people from Leavenworth County to visit the plant in Union City, Tennessee. County Commissioner Bob Holland was among those who took the trip.

Hailey said he was asked to participate in a roundtable discussion with the group from Leavenworth County.

“They asked all of those hard questions,” he said.

But he said it was easy for him to defend Tyson Foods.

People opposed to the proposed plant near Tonganoxie have pointed to news reports of Tyson Foods being fined millions of dollars for environmental issues related to other plants, including facilities located in Kansas and Missouri.

Hailey said Tyson Foods has been a “good citizen” when it comes to the environment in Union City, Tennessee.

He said Union City has a population of about 10,800. It is located in a county of about 32,000. He said Tyson Foods has found plenty of people to work at its plant.

“They pay pretty well too,” he said.

Hailey acknowledged his community has some Spanish speaking residents, some of whom work at the Tyson Foods plant. But he said fears people had about the community being overwhelmed with non-English speaking workers never came to pass.

According to a frequently asked questions document prepared by Tyson Foods, hourly wages at the proposed complex near Tonganoxie would range from $13 to $15 per hour. And some skilled labor jobs would pay more than $20 per hour. There also would be management positions.

Sparkman said Friday that some of the local residents who have raised questions about the project are being invited to attend meetings next week hosted by the company and state and local leaders.

He said the purpose of the meetings is to “listen and share more details about the company’s proposed plans.”

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR