Council reacts to slaughterhouse issue

Published 6:23 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Port Arthur City Council members had mixed reactions to the concerns of 250 or so people who attended Tuesday’s meeting to have their voices heard.

After hearing about 25 people speak for or against a proposed slaughterhouse that would be built in the rear section at the new Jade Business Park, City Council voted 6-1 to uphold a prior vote by the city’s Economic Development Corporation to ban any slaughterhouse or meat processing plant in the new park.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince, who has less than a month to serve before her term is up, cast the lone vote against the EDC including language prohibiting a meat processing plant or slaughterhouse in restrictions and covenants governing the new business park.

“Based on all the lies, I voted with my heart. I cannot be intimidated,” Prince said, while noting that the jobs many had described as low paying should not be taken lightly.

“One of the things I never want to do is to snub your nose at jobs. A $12 job could be a viable job for someone who is trying to make a living,” Prince said.

Willie “Bae” Lewis, District 5 Councilman, said he had visited a meat processing plant in Navasota, and found that there was no smell other than that from trucks bringing the animals to be slaughtered.

Lewis said he felt the community had received erroneous information, and in the process became polarized.

“There is no doubt in my mind the facility is not going to smell,” Lewis said, noting that this was the fourth time the city lost jobs over perception.

District 2 Councilman Raymond Scott Jr. praised Riceland representatives for their presentation, but said he was elected to listen to the concerns of the community.

“I have always been consistent of how I voted. I am not saying your project is not good, but common ground needs to be found somewhere else. My voice is with the citizens,” Scott said while suggesting the company look for another location in Port Arthur.

Newly elected District 4 Councilman Keith Richard said in his business as a homebuilder, he knew Tohme.

“I have been knowing Mr. Tohme for years and have developed a great trust, but that is not what this is about. I represent District 4. It is not about my opinion, it’s about doing the righteous thing,” Richard said.

Port Arthur, he said, needed jobs, but the question was what kind of jobs.

“Jobs, we need jobs, but what kind of jobs and where because you guys don’t want it in Port Arthur,” Richard said.

District 2 Councilwoman Tiffany Hamilton said she was excited to see so many people in attendance.

“Your voice has been loud,” she said. “ I am very disheartened by the information that has been shared. No one on this Council should make a decision on emotion, but only on facts.”

Hamilton said she had worked hard to get the facts, and was willing to talk with anyone who called her, but it had been a tough road.

“Our fiduciary responsibility is to do what is best for the entire city, so we have to make a decision for those who are in opposition and for those who in support, she said. “I caution you to not come with a mind already made up, come with an open mind.”

Prior to the vote, Prince chastised those who had spread misleading information and inflamed the community.

“This is petty, small, non-professional,” Prince said. “It is a shame people will spend that much time passing out fliers with erroneous information.”

After the vote, she said it had been a difficult one for Council.

“This is an extremely difficult vote for us and one based on erroneous information put out makes it even harder,” Prince said.

E-mail: sherry.koonce@panews

Twitter: sgsturdivant