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