UPDATE: Preservation society drops lawsuit against Walker County, Pilgrim’s Pride
UPDATE: Statement from Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield on the dropping of the lawsuit.
“Though well-meaning citizens may have varying opinions about specific economic development opportunities, everyone agrees job and wage growth remain a common goal.”
“We will continue to represent the citizens of Walker County in good faith and with the highest integrity as we pursue companies that desire to create quality jobs and be good corporate citizens in our community.”
“By working together to achieve our common goal, we enhance our appeal to prospective partners around the world and present our community in a positive light.”
WALKER COUNTY, Ga. (WDEF) – The “Don’t Slaughter Our Cove” lawsuit against Walker County and Pilgrim’s Pride has been dropped, according to Waterhouse Public Relations on behalf of the McLemore Cove Preservation Society.
In a release, members of the preservation society say they’re dropping the lawsuit because “they believe it has fulfilled what they set out to accomplish.”
Resident and McLemore Cove Preservation Society spokesperson Ruth Almeter says, “Although we immediately received overwhelming universal support when we announced the Don’t Slaughter Our Cove Initiative last week, we felt that dropping the lawsuit was in the best interest of Walker County and its citizens to productively move forward. We are hopeful that a chicken plant is not going into McLemore Cove.”
The McLemore Cove Preservation Society says they support economic development in Walker county, but the group says they will continue to fight any kind of industry trying to move into the Cove.
WALKER COUNTY, Ga. (WDEF) – UPDATE: A Walker County spokesman says the county was served the lawsuit around 2:30 Thursday afternoon.
In a video released to the media, Commissioner Shannon Whitfield slams the organization that brought the suit against the county.
When McLemore Cove comes to mind, McLemore Cove Preservation Society Interim President Ruth Almeter knows just how to describe it.
“Just down the road is the Martin Davis house trust, which is a historic site that’s been preserved. It truly has site after site of landmarks that are important to Georgia’s history, to American history,” Almeter said.
The McLemore Cove Historic District is over 50 thousand acres.
According to The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, it’s the largest historic district in the state.
Almeter said it also includes the old Barwick site in Walker County, and after hearing a Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plant from Chattanooga might be moving to the site, she, like other residents in the cove, is concerned.
“What are we going to support that type of industry here? We would have to rip apart everything we have to be able to support that adequately and no one wants to see that happen to the cove,” Almeter said.
She said that they’ve contacted various county leaders to try to get the truth among the rumors spreading about the plant, but haven’t been able to get answers.
“They site a non-disclosure saying that they can’t. So, it really forced the residents hand in filing a lawsuit to get them to release the documents to confirm or deny a lot of the rumors,” Almeter said.
Walker County Spokesman Joe Legge said according to what they’ve learned a lawsuit couldn’t stop a company from buying property that’s already zoned for industrial.
Meanwhile, society members are doing what they can to get some answers and push back against a possible plant.
“There’s tons of rock climbing and biking and hiking and the Ironman comes here and we want to keep the area preserved and the land preserved. It’s very important to not just the residents of the cove, but the whole county. It’s a great asset and a massive industry will destroy it,” Almeter said.
A Pilgrim’s Pride spokesperson said that they do not comment on rumors or speculation and have made no decisions that would impact the Chattanooga facility.
Walker County officials are expected to make a statement on this issue Thursday.