More On Madison Food Park — Jobs And Water

Mr. Nikolakakos, I think you’re better off opposing this on the water/Madision Aquifer issue. That may be the strongest argument.

You called Weissman’s assessment regarding jobs “silly.” However, I found much of your information to be misleading.

First, you mentioned you posted the One Montana Feasibility Study. I found no such study posted on the Protect the Falls website. So I looked on your Facebook page about the slaughterhouse and found only a photo of a portion of a jobs table posted, with an allusion that it comes from the One Montana Study.

You didn’t include a link to the study itself, which made me suspicious. Why not include a link to the whole document?

So I found the document here.

When I accessed that document, I discovered that the photo you posted of the partial jobs table is but a small portion of the information found in the document, “One Montana Meat Processing Facility Feasibility Study”.

You posted only ONE of the FOUR jobs tables found in the study, and you cherry-picked the one showing the LOWEST WAGES. There are other slaughterhouse operations jobs in the study at higher wages, and they aren’t all executive positions. The jobs tables, for those interested, are on pages 82-85 of the study.

Second, your assertions that no one in this town would be interested in jobs at a slaughterhouse that would pay $10-$14 an hour is based on what? Where’s your LOCAL research that no Great Falls job seekers would be interested? Have you asked the folks at Job Service, who work with job seekers every day? Where’s you data?

Also, about a $10 an hour wage, you wrote, “…as any employer here will tell you, myself included, those wages will get you nothing but a chuckle around here….”

Really? Then why does the Great Falls School District advertise and regularly fill jobs such as a current opening for Teacher’s Aide at North Middle School for $8.83-$10.49 an hour? Cascade County also has a current opening for a receptionist and another for clerk at a $12 an hour and the people hired need to join the Teamsters Union at their own cost. After paying union dues, they certainly won’t be making a whole lot more than $10 an hour. Another county job, Respite/Homemaker Provider, pays a whooping $10.50-$11.25 an hour.

Yet, despite what you call “fast food” wages, there’s no shortage of applicants for those positions. So maybe some local folks would indeed be interested in a job at the slaughterhouse.

The US Bureau of Labor & Statistics lists Great Falls median hourly wage as $14.72 (2016). So how do you figure the slaughterhouse wages are so far out of line, considering the full range of wages in four tables of the One Montana report?

I find that your argument about wages lacks credibility at this point. If you argument was strong, you wouldn’t feel it necessary to cherry-pick what you present on your website.

Some of the material presented on Great Falls Area Concerned Citizens and Protect the Falls, appears to use generalizations as arguments against this project. You can cite examples from across the country regarding slaughterhouses and the impact on communities, but each situation is different.

Using examples of what other companies have done that negatively impact communities in some way as proof that Friesen Foods will conduct business the same way is unfair to Friesen Foods. This is how we as a society get into trouble—all X is bad because some X is bad is a bad assumption.

I think the opposition would be better served in focusing on the real issue—water.

According to Madison Food Park’s operational checklist, the facility proposes to sink 3-4 vertical deep wells into the Madison Aquifer and utilize 3,554,209 gallons of water per day.

Yes, folks that a lot of water.

I’ve heard speculations about the water usage, whether a permit is need, etc., so l decided to contact the Montana Department of National Resources regional office in Lewistown. This office covers Cascade County water rights, both surface (spring, creek, river, etc) and ground water (well) appropriations. In speaking with hydrologist Doug Mann, I learned some information pertinent to the Friesen Foods’ proposed water use.

Although the agency has heard about Friesen Foods plans through the media, they have yet to receive an application from Friesen Foods for groundwater appropriation.

The company is required to file Form 600 GW Groundwater Application for Beneficial Water Use Permit and its associated addendums for appropriations of groundwater of more than 35 gallons per minute or 10 acre-feet per year with the MT DNRC. The company could use data from a well or wells of similar depth in the area to support their application.

The company could also drill into the aquifer for testing purposes before approval of the permit. However, they could not put that water to use before permit approval.

The area in question is not part of a controlled groundwater area, as regulated by the MT DNRC. But it is in the Upper Missouri River Basin closure for surface water appropriation. According to Mann, groundwater appropriations that affect the water rights of surface water permit holders in a closed basin could be an issue. So if Friesen Foods’ appropriation of groundwater would affect, for example, a nearby surface water rights holder use of his/her rightful appropriation, that could be an issue for Friesen Foods’ permit approval.

If the MT Department of Natural Resources proposes to grant the groundwater appropriation permit, there would be public notice with in the media (Great Falls Tribune), and the public would have 45 days to comment on the approval

Posted by Jeni Dodd

Jeni Dodd is a creative, multi-faceted, multi-talented, knowledge junkie. She currently utilizes her skills in a variety of business and artistic endeavors. Liberty, integrity, truth and critical thinking are among her most important precepts.

Reader interactions

20 Replies to “More On Madison Food Park — Jobs And Water”

  1. Jeni, you have done this before. You make dramatic accusations and they seem to be based less on reason and fact (which you claim to care about) than they are on generating some cheap attention grabbing controversy and having something to say to that end. Readership ploy? You then follow up by rattling off a series of accusatory and loaded questions. It’s unprofessional and reflects poorly on the E-City beat.

    On our page, directly below the post, we placed a direct link to the One Montana study. I took a glance at our web page and it doesn’t appeared to have published there but that’s a minor oversite as we’re working on a section including a variety of different links including the Cascade County zoning regulations and the growth policy etc. It will be there shortly. So the link is posted and the study is available via quick google search as you obviously discovered. The only reason we didn’t direct link to the study on the post tself and did so below it is because you can’t do that and include a snapshot as well. Additionally, the Facebook algorithim absolutely hates direction to a group-linked webpage as they appear to be trying to get pages to pay for “clicks.” The surest way to demolish a posts reach is to link back to your own website. In any case, we intend to continue to post and cite the study so your mini attack “expose” trying to out us as lacking credibility is childish and silly. We are the one’s out there with a page including dozens of links and studies and citing them. Todd Hanson makes vague references and claims that simply don’t hold up to the data or real world examples.

    The other pages in the study show similar wages, overwhelmingly all in the 10-14 dollar range, which is the figure we use when discussing wages. The Bureau of Labor Statistics median salary for meat-cutters is about 13 dollars an hour, it is lower for custodians. The snapshot we included focused on the “custodians” as Mr. Hanson dramatically (and bizarrely) emphasized the hundreds of custodians Friesen will need to hire at the Council 5 meeting. Again, we did indeed post a link to a study we are referencing the BLS 12.78 median wage. So the fact that there are other pages showing 12-14 dollar jobs… that’s your angle of attack? How interesting that you seem to be incredibly knit-picky with our arguments yet allow this company free range to make absurd claims. It is Friesen that is inflating the hourly wages than the vast majority of the workers will get by including and averaging in CEO and HQ position type wages. They are “cherry picking,” not us. Again, a cheap attack that either shows your bias or your desire to create headline grabbing conflict. Either case reflects poorly on you and your credibility, not ours.

    Water is indeed a critical issue indeed, but you don’t get to dismiss a different issue based on what sure looks like 15 minutes of internet research and weak line of questioning, sorry. Citing the fact that a small handful of jobs training/entry level jobs exist and get filled at lower wages and comparing them to thousands of brutal jobs at a slaughterhouse working on a “line” in a cold meatlocker is absurd. And we have spoken to the jobs service. And we count HR managers at major firms as members as well as many employers. Are you saying you think this company can fill 3,000 jobs in this wage range locally? Are you really saying that? Do you think they could fill even 500? 250?

    The median wage for meat-cutters is lower than the median wage in Great Falls. Tom Jacobson, executive director Rural Dynamics states that $17 could be considered lower income in Cascade County. We would literally be importing low income jobs. These are not mining jobs. These are not oil jobs. These are low paying jobs, bottom line, there is no disputing that, and that is why Americans overwhelmingly do not take them, and that is why this company will be forced to recruit our of state and out of country and even then still fall short.

    The idea that we cannot apply industry wide standards to what is likely to occur here is likewise absurd and naive. Assuming that this slaughterhouse will have to operate in a similar fashion to others is the safe bet for economic reasons, the reasons cited in the One Montana study, reasons you seem to have no concept of. Assuming Friesen will be able to remain competitive and pay higher wages than other plants and magically find 3,000 in-state workers in the face of evidence to the contrary… that’s a crazy leap that will get is us into “trouble.” Again, you seem to be more than willing to allow Friesen assumptions and claims outside the bounds of normal operations but throw down the gauntlet that a snapshot we took was of 10-12 dollar jobs rather than additional 12-14 dollar jobs. Even when we routinely cite the BLS average of 12.78 while Hanson claims an absurd (and still lower wage) 17. What an incredible double standard.

    You stated you opened the One Montana study. Did you happen to notice it calls for 150 jobs? 150 jobs which it claims Great Falls can “likely” handle after a couple of years and much planning/effort and training and recruiting. Friesen would be hiring 20 times as many people. That fact that you would even entertain their claims proves how out of touch you are with employment reality. Talk to UM an how they feel about hiring this spring. Talk to the GM of the malt plant and ask how recruiting is going. And these are easier and better paying jobs. Definitely, individuals tied in to the employment scene are more able to understand the absurdity of Friesen’s claims here than a freelance journalist. So you want more data. More facts. I feel like there will never be enough because, again, you are willing to buy their unsourced claims at face value while apparently nothing we offer is good enough. See below for a link describing the labor shortage and what it looks like going forward.

    Here is Professor Eric Belaso, leader of the One Montana on who will be hired… ” Elsewhere, large meat processing plants are staffed mostly by migrant laborers and Eric Belasco, an agricultural economist at Montana State University and one of the authors of the slaughterhouse feasibility study, thinks this plant probably would, too. In other words, the overall impact on the state’s unemployment rate—which is slightly lower than the national average at 4 percent—would probably be fairly small. ”

    Again, this was in reference to the 150 jobs, not the 3,000.

    The bottom line is Friesen is trying to play this off like they’re opening a mine or oil well. Todd Hanson is claiming they will hire in-state. This isn’t a matter of posting 1/4 pages of data in the same wage-range regardless, it’s a bold-faced lie. They will be importing a huge number of low wage jobs and all the challenges that come with the people (especially a large and rapid influx of them) who do those jobs. You seem more than willing to blindly trust in the empty promises of a company whose purpose is to make money. Many of us trust the data, experience, and the real-world examples all around us.


    1. Excellent comment !! I believe miss Jeni should probably think twice before publishing any further articles attacking your credibility or research practices.


  2. There you go Jeni, our page now has a direct link to the study. You have exposed our subterfuge and saved the day. People can feast on the data that includes a few more jobs in the 12-14 dollar range VS in the 10, 12-14, and 18 dollar range. Our argument and credibility are forever shattered.


  3. Jeni, I am unclear as to what your underlying motivation was to write this piece? On one hand you seem concerned about the very real threat to our environment. I can assure you we are as well. On the other hand, you seem hell bent on discrediting George. He represents a group of very motivated hardworking people that are working together to educate the community about what this project really means. We want as many people as possible to recognize the reality of how large industrial scale kill plants really affect communities and the surrounding environments. We want to be sure there is another loud voice being spoken to counter the polished rhetoric companies like this, backed with big money, proclaim. We want people making an educated decision pro or con about this for our community. When we started this group, Great Falls Area Concerned Citizens, we agreed to do our best to avoid extremes and remain credible. Believe me, there are a lot of speculations we have that we do not post to our page. We agreed, anything we post or write about publicly under the GFACC name could be cited and we would always do our best to remain credible. We continue to cite our work and our research. If we make a mistake we are not afraid to publicly correct ourselves. You cannot begin to imagine the hours of work and research that has gone into the information we find and choose to share. We challenge our followers to actually read the articles we post and educate themselves. I would love for them to form their own educated opinions because they read the research as we have and not just take our word for it. Your interpretation of the One Montana Study was shallow and superficial. Your opinion that this facility will somehow magically be different than any other one in the country is laughable. That’s what Friesen wants everyone to believe. Take a look at the sales pitches of every other one of these companies when they try to move into a community…..they are all the same and after you read one you’ve read them all. This sales pitch is no different. It’s like there is a script for it out there for them. We hope our community is thankful for the other voice, that has grown significantly, instead of being duped into something and finding out after it is too late. You seem “concerned” about this facility regarding the water issues. We share those same concerns as well. The complexity of issues this kill plant brings to the table is huge. There is something here for everyone to hate. Our group has tried to highlight many of the problems. If you are passionate about the water and threat to Giant Springs, than take that and do as much research into how you can make that your argument against this. I laughed to myself to hear you just now contacted the DNRC….We did that months ago and have even been to Livingston. However, I am glad our information prompted you to dig deeper. In that regard, we have accomplished our goal and hope more of our followers will do the same. Be thankful for people like George and many others who are not afraid to stick their neck out on the line to try and help our community and avoid having a county and a company slip a project through on us that is an irreversible game changer to our identity and quality of lives in Cascade County and Great Falls.


  4. That’s the best you can do Mr Nikolakakos, hurl unfounded personal assaults at me—my character and my professionalism? Wow, you sure are full of vitriol when someone expresses a different perspective than you.

    I have the First Amendment right to express my opinions. I assert that you, at times, presented generalizations and opinions as fact and that you employ some faulty logic in your arguments against the slaughterhouse. You also have the First Amendment right to verbal attack me in any way you see fit.

    But there’s a big difference in your tone and content of your message compared to mine. Thinking people will recognize it. Attacking me personally doesn’t improve your argument one bit.

    No, I’m not “willing to blindly trust in the empty promises” of anyone. I’m not “generating some cheap attention grabbing controversy,” nor did I “allow the “company free range to make absurd claims.” I don’t have a “bias” (except for truth and logic).

    It seems to me that you fail to differentiate between statistic-based facts and opinions. Tom Jacobsen’s statement that $17 could be considered lower income in Cascade County is his opinion, not a fact.

    Exactly which questions of mine do you consider accusatory and loaded? Perhaps the truth is that you doesn’t think your assertions should be questioned at all because you appear to rabidly discourage any dialogue that disagrees with your views.

    Pointing out what I see as weakness in the arguments on the side of some slaughterhouse opposers doesn’t make me a champion of Hansen or Friesen Foods. You are the one who is categorizing me as a proponent of the slaughterhouse. I’ve never come out as either for or against the slaughterhouse. I’m one of the many Great Falls people still evaluating the argument and discovering the facts.

    Some folks, including me, want to see more than emotionally based arguments designed to create public frenzy. We want the issue looked at objectively, calmly, from all angles and considering all stakeholders.

    It is apparent you are trying to characterize me as the “enemy” just because I dare question your assertions. I’ve noticed you and other leaders of the stop the slaughterhouse movement do that to anyone who dare question your assertions or have an opinion different from you, for example, Maggie Nutter.

    So go ahead and hurl your personal attacks, Mr. Nikolakakos. You aren’t the first and you won’t be the last. I’ve learned from experience that being an independent thinker makes one a target for a bully, but it’s worth it.


  5. Ms. Hermiller, you wrote, “Your interpretation of the One Montana Study was shallow and superficial. Your opinion that this facility will somehow magically be different than any other one in the country is laughable.”

    First of all, I offered no “interpretation” of the One Montana Study.” Further, I offered no “opinion that this facility will somehow magically be different than any other….” Those are products of your imagination.

    I merely suggested that you can’t necessarily look to examples in other communities as defining exactly what would happen locally. I’m simply asking questions and bringing up additional things to consider. Some of us are a bit more reasoned about considering information rather than reactionary. It’s sad that you and Mr. Nikolakakos attempt to punish verbally those with opinions that diverge from your opinions.

    You also wrote, “I laughed to myself to hear you just now contacted the DNRC….We did that months ago and have even been to Livingston”

    Well if you went to Livingston about water rights, that’s laughable, since the MT DNRC Regional Office for Cascade County is in LEWISTOWN! No, I didn’t contact them first or earlier. How is that relevant? Do you think that somehow that makes you or your “research” superior? Obviously, you do, given your condescending tone throughout your response.

    It appears you and Mr. Nikolakakos can’t tolerate diversity of opinion and therefore, resort to condescending and trying to shame anyone that doesn’t agree with your perceptions.


  6. Steven Vinnedge January 25, 2018 at 6:37 AM

    I found the article informative and direct. Having been banned from commenting on Mr. Nikolakakos’ Facebook page for disagreeing with their water pollution postulations. I can accept a decision on the project one way or another, but I object to the use of misinformation tactics this group employs. You now have centered yourself on their bulls eye and are receiving the same over statements and mis-statements typical of this group. But thanks for the good article and the link that now is no longer missing.


    1. Steve, I do not know which admin or under what circumstances you were “blocked.” It is usually for an excessive lack of civility or spam like activity. We do not ban people for simply disagreeing and have, in fact, made it a point to allow opposing viewpoints in as we believe they help us sharpen our argument. If you visit the page right now you will see some very spirited debate happening on some threads. With a post reach now in the 100’s of thousands and engagements in to 10’s of thousands and 2,200 followers we’ve banned maybe a couple dozen people. A chunk of those actually oppose the slaughterhouse. So, that said, I’ll remove the “block.”


  7. Stacy Hermiller January 25, 2018 at 6:49 AM

    Thank you for pointing out that I mistakenly wrote Livingston instead of Lewiston! I hadn’t caught that I wrote that! Oops! I do hope you continue to pursue your concerns regarding the water issues!
    These venues have large readerships. When an article is written suggesting that we are somehow intentionally misleading our followers you must understand we feel impelled to defend our stance. You may feel attacked, our articles have faced the same kind of criticism as well. An article like the one you wrote is an invitation for debate. However, I certainly don’t want to engage in it to a level that it begins to fracture the opposition. I hope that you will consider that as well in your future writings and question what you are tying to accomplish with each piece. As for now…. let’s not continue to beat a dead cow.


  8. Your group purports to be the “good” citizen vs “evil” slaughterhouse. Equating people with the “evil” slaughterhouse simply because they disagree with some assertions of your group actually weakens your case against the slaughterhouse, because it shows the generalization errors of your thinking. It give thinkers like me pause–if Ms. Hermiller and Mr. Nikolakakos so readily generalize that someone is a slaughterhouse proponent simply for disagreeing with some of what their group asserts, what generalizations do they present as “facts” in their argument against the slaughterhouse that also may not be true?

    And I’ve noticed you both get quite sarcastically contentious over someone pointing out facts like Livingston vs Lewistown and that the study wasn’t linked on the website. Yet you both demand accuracy from others, including Friseen Foods. You weaken your position when you ignore your own inaccuracies while demanding accuracy from others.


    1. You’re reading sarcasm in Stacy’s comment where there is none IMO. As for pointing out the “act that we hadn’t linked the study, again, we had linked it in the first comment below the post. The problem wasn’t that you pointed that out, it was actually helpful in that it is now up on the site. The issue is you used a minor oversight to attack our credibility and accuse us of being manipulative.

      So, no, I don’t immediately take to equating any challenge to evil or slaughterhouse support. In fact, I welcome engagement as I believe it sharpens our arguments. But when the challenges are petty with the intent to discredit and incredibly selective and one sided then yes, there is an issue.

      I’ve often thought of why I consider this a good VS evil battle. I always put myself in the other sides shoes and this time is no different. It’s against my nature to see things in black and white and I will admit, I sometimes get uncomfortable with lack of nuance in our messaging and try to course correct some.

      What it boils down to for me is the choice of location. I immediately sized these guys up as bad actors and have never looked back. When you choose a site for massive sewage processing and spray fields in a rural county with incredible amounts of better suited open space and the location you decide is acceptable is built winding through incredible proximity to many homes and families… you are not a good neighbor and do not have good intentions. Bottom line. As a developer I would NEVER consider that site. On top of that I have lived near and spent time around these communities so I know what they mean. When this guy looks me in the eye and tells me they will pay well and hire locals I know he is lying. It’s not a matter of framing his argument. He is boldly lying and he knows it and he knows I know it. So with that context I do firmly believe this company does not care about people, does not intend to be a good neighbor, and will say and do absolutely anything. I have no qualms throwing the kitchen sink at them under those circumstances.


  9. Jeni, what I believe most “thinking” people will see is someone playing the victim card. Hard. You can dish it out pretty good, but seem to bristle on the receiving end. You have questioned my integrity, my credibility, and even my abilities in my military profession in two formal editorials as well as comments so you should be less surprised by my “tone” than you are. You made this personal early on. To minimize it now as claiming I “at times, presented generalizations and opinions as fact and that you employ some faulty logic in your arguments” is misleading. You have done more than that. You also don’t differentiate between including your direct attacks within a more formal editorial being pushed out and a “comment section” which I do, in fact, see as a lack of professionalism. The going on about the first amendment just baffles me. How is this even relevant? No one is challenging that on either side, but again, if you’re gonna give it you have to expect to get it too. Especially when you start your editorial with my name.

    One of your accusations essentially boiled down to a claim that we (in this case I) withheld a link to a study (which was factually incorrect because in fact it was posted directly below) in order to somehow keep people in the dark and be manipulative. It’s probably the pettiness of the whole thing more than falseness of the claim that got under my skin. And you point out that I “cherry” picked the data. First off, as in any debate, it is perfectly normal to present your side of the case in the best light possible. There is a difference between doing that, however, and using non-factual and non-source based arguments that are not in harmony with the underlying truth of the matter. So we are using fact based sourced information, citing it, and all the information is in-line with the thrust of the argument which, in this case, is that these are low wage jobs that will be out-sourced. You have expressed no problem with Mr. Weismann making an almost purely anecdotal jobs argument or with Friesen making absurd claims of “high paying in-state jobs” but find it necessary to “bust my balls” over shades of gray in the details? And then it surprises you that I assume you’re a proponent? Once again, you are exhibiting a clear double standard in your demand for facts, sources, and reason. If you truly are as even-handed as you claim, it makes absolutely no sense unless you are trying to be sensational and argumentative. I don’t know the extent of your involvement with this publication, however, it is clear that the “boxing gloves off” approach of readership driving is a strategy so it’s one of the few explanations I can muster for your approach.

    On Mr, Jacobson, as an economic authority in the region, his opinion matters and carries weight. What he has pointed out (unrelated to this project) is that the average wage in cascade county is $18 an hour, therefore, 17 an hour is literally and factually lower wage as it brings down that average. His definitions also included factors like the ability to support one’s self, a family etc. You are correct that there is no textbook definition of “low wage” and it can be relative. To me, a wage measured in hourly terms is generally low wage. A wage that requires these companies to recruit exclusively among vulnerable populations and that local populations rarely accept is a low wage. A wage you can’t raise a family on is a low wage. A wage you can earn starting at a fast food restaurant with no prior-experience? Low wage. There is a gray area in there but we’re nowhere near it one way or the other. There is no 17 an hour for the vast majority of these jobs anyway, as the one Montana study shows as well as BLS statistics. Once again, in all this you are determined to challenge every minor aspect of the jobs argument I make and fail to acknowledge the elephant in the room. The bottom line on jobs is this company is going to hire a bunch of desperate people from out of town as the director of the One Montana study allows and as a bunch of evidence on our website attests to. You can worry about the veracity of Tom Jacobson and which page of the study showing the same general theme we chose to post but nothing changes the underlying reality. A reality you refuse to even acknowledge in passing.

    So I have no problem with people questioning or prodding our arguments. But you’re being insincere or blind to the fact that you’re doing so selectively while claiming to be impartial. The public “frenzy” I see is a bunch of people in town with a one word argument and not any more thought: “jobs.” It’s difficult to get people to “peel back the onion” because as you well know, only a small fraction of our population is engaged enough to be debating on E-City beat and the like. In fact, most probably couldn’t so much as name half their elected representatives. Often times arguments need to be presented in simple and bold terms in order to get people engaged and taking a closer look. In fact, as you may know, every word you add to a Facebook post lessens its “reach.” Can that often come across as sensational or over general? Yes, and we’re aware of that. But if you dig deeper what you will find is true and fact based arguments that are based on a foundation academic studies, credible journalism, and real-world examples. I would again direct you to our website for a “best of” repository. I have seen nothing of the sort from anyone on the “pro” side, including the company in question. Because they don’t want an analysis. They want it to end with a one word case.


  10. Ms. Hermiler wrote, “Thank you for pointing out that I mistakenly wrote Livingston instead of Lewiston! I hadn’t caught that I wrote that! Oops! I do hope you continue to pursue your concerns regarding the water issues!”

    And you honestly don’t think that comment is sarcastic?

    You also claim I made it personal first by attacking your abilities in your military profession. Your profile states you are an intelligence analyst in the Air National Guard. I responded to your “Growth At What Cost?” piece here on ECity with a quite lengthy post of my own. My ending comment was as follows:

    “For someone who is an intelligence analyst in the military and therefore should be well versed in critical thinking skills and the use of logical arguments, I’m a bit disappointed in the argument as you’ve presented it. It appears based more in the emotional, rather than the analytical.”

    So, no I didn’t attack your military career. I merely expected, given your background, that you would have made a mostly analytical rather than emotional argument about the slaughterhouse. Yes, I did hold you to a higher standard than an average fifth-grader. How does that equate to attacking your military career? It doesn’t.

    Well, I’m not on Facebook so I’m not aware if posting posting a link to documents on a page creates an issue or that words diminish reach. But I do know you could have posted the web address on FB and not made it a link. Folks would have to copy and paste the link in another window but they’d be able to access the study. And you could have put a link to the study on your protect the falls website with all your other links. There’s no issue with posting links on your own website, since it’s not FB.

    In addition, as I’m not on Facebook, I can read comments on the public page but can’t respond to them. To Don Petrini, who wondered where Mr Nikolakakos lives, he does own a home east of Great Falls, a few miles as the bird flies northeast of the project area, so yeah, there’s could be some NIMBY going on there and Hermiller of course is a neighbor to the slaughterhouse.

    I also find it interesting that some posters on FB are faulting me for referencing what they feel is a flawed study as it only considers a slaughterhouse at a much smaller scale than Friesen proposes. Well, to all on FB, I’m not the one who first referenced this study, Mr Nikolakakos did. He used it support his wage claims while only posting one table of wages. I only responded after he had did that and failed to include the whole wage information. I never made any claims that the study was scalable to the Friesen project, only that the wage table he presented as “proof” of low wages was only a portion of the information.

    Tom Jacobson as “economic authority?” I’m LMAO! He’s the executive director of a local non-profit and despite the fact that the non-profit deals with helping people with credit and financial issues, that doesn’t in any way, shape or form, make him an “economic authority.” It’s logic like that, you citing a non-authority “authority,” that weakens your arguments and credibility.

    I seen and read most of your “repository” of information. It’s fine to point out examples of other slaughterhouses in other areas and their associated problems but how many of those are operated by Friesen Foods? I didn’t see any in your examples. So you’re not willing to even consider what Friesen is proposing merely based on what Tyson or some other company has done? That’s a bit short-sighted and close minded. I’m wiling to hear them out, once they submit their updated plan and I’m also willing to evaluate the reports of hydrologists and other science-based experts on potential effects.

    And to all those who think I’m a slaughterhouse proponent…chew on this…here’s something I posted months ago on ECity:

    “A local landlord group called into question the Neighborworks GF/CMD Development apartment project, Rockcress Commons, because they see no shortage of rentals in that price range. Is it possible that Rockcress Commons was developed because of advanced knowledge that the slaughterhouse would be built here and import a certain income-range group of workers, thus creating the need for that housng? Ed Friesen hinted about another project for his company in a January 2017 Tribune article when interviewed about the livestock nutrition facility Friesen was building south of the old Buttrey warehouse.

    “Friesen said the company is considering further expansion in Great Falls, but declined to elaborate. He thanked Great Falls Development Authority officials for helping with their current Great Falls project, including providing a $106,000 “gap loan” that supplemented bank financing.” (Tribune, January 17, 2017)

    Interestingly enough, NWGF is calling Rockcress Commons “workforce housing.” Of course, that particular apartment complex wouldn’t house the total proposed number of workers at the plant, but perhaps it was a start and they planned to add more in stages?

    The proposed Rockcress Commons project hit the news in September 2016. Friesen mentioned “expansion” in January 2017. Did one need to happen before the other? Or maybe there’s no connection at all.

    Also interesting that GFDA helped Friesen with a loan for the livestock nutrition facility, but a GFDA FB post on November 1 stated, “As of now we have nothing to do with this project (slaughterhouse).” So GFDA worked with Friesen on one project but not the other? GFDA puts out a lot of slick PR touting its expertise and role in promoting agri-business in the area, yet it’s not involved in the biggest one, the slaughterhouse …hmm…interesting….”

    Tell me what about the above comment, made in November on this site, makes me a proponent?

    I believe a decision of this magnitude deserves science-based and data-based facts, not speculations. I will not be moved from looking at this objectively.


  11. Per Capita Income in Cascade County: $26,578 (Per the Census Bureau:

    $17.00/per hour x 40 hours per week x 50 weeks per year = $34,000.00.

    How, then, is this statement true: “What he has pointed out (unrelated to this project) is that the average wage in cascade county is $18 an hour, therefore, 17 an hour is literally and factually lower wage as it brings down that average.”


    1. Gregg, here is the definition of “per capita income”: The average income of every resident of a geographic area, including all adults and children.”

      So that number takes all wages and then every man, woman, and child, retiree, person on disability, home-maker etc. and divides. It’s not the appropriate yardstick.

      It’s important to differentiate between median income, median household income, average wages, and per capita income. I think average wage is a silly yardstick and can be quite misleading which is why Mr. Hanson loves it.

      End of the day, the average weekly wage per BLS in Cascade county is over 750 which divided by 40 hours is much closer to 19 than even 18.


  12. Thanks Gregg. Yep, I caught that too. I’ve already authored and submitted a piece earlier today to ECity regarding where I think his information came from and how it was misinterpreted…among other things.


    1. One would hope that you didn’t also misunderstand what per-capita income is and means. The average wage is, in fact, higher than 18 and there is no statistical or logical gymnastics you can do that will change the fact that the vast majority of slaughterhouse jobs are anything but brutal and poor paying.

      Since you seem to really think these slaughterhouse jobs are the “bee’s knees” are you considering taking one at the MFP?


  13. […] Jeni Dodd’s recent piece about the proposed Friesen development, Great Falls Concerned Citizens chief organizer, George […]


  14. Jeni is NOT from here. In fact, she is a relatively new arrival. I don’t understand her desire to destroy our home. Maybe she should work to get this abomination built where her roots are! I’m sure folks there would love it like she does!


  15. Jeni, been here a long time. I can see why the Tribune let you go. You simply have NO journalistic standards. Maybe go win yourself a Pulitzer like Eric Newhouse did, and then get back with us. You’re pathetic! Stop embarrassing yourself with this nonsense. George is the real deal. You are not!


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