Standing outside Pilgrim’s Pride in downtown Chattanooga’s Southside neighborhood, dozens of protestors announced their challenge to any plan to move the chicken plant to McLemore Cove in Walker County, Ga. The protestors are responding to plans to carve out 300 acres of the 50,000-acre countryside for a multi-building, chicken slaughtering facility. The area in question, McLemore Cove, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“We’re not against development, growth or jobs for our neighbors in Walker County. We’re against a chicken plant or any industry in the middle of protected, pristine land that’s of national, cultural and historic value,” said Ruth Almeter, a nearby resident of McLemore Cove. “We hope Commissioner Whitfield and any of the county leadership would use better judgment before ruining this national treasure and putting our families in danger. We will do whatever it takes to try to make sure this plant does not move forward in McLemore Cove.”
Today, protestors announced their initiative, “Don’t Slaughter Our Cove,” which urges Walker County to keep Pilgrim’s Pride from putting a chicken plant in McLemore Cove. The group proposes Walker County’s industrial park as a suitable alternative, acknowledging the need for growth and jobs in the area. To acquire what’s been discussed between the county and Pilgrim’s Pride so far, the McLemore Cove Preservation Society filed a lawsuit seeking non-disclosure agreement documents between the entities.
“McLemore Cove is thousands of acres of natural woods, rolling fields and historic farm land, and it is not suitable for a massive chicken plant,” Blackwell Smith, business man and longtime resident of the area. “Putting a plant in McLemore Cove will harm property values, ruin a historic site, destroy country roads with chicken trucks creating safety issues and pollute the air and drinking water with dangerous waste and horrible smells. More than that, it will bring in low-paying jobs and dirty industry, which will only hurt the growth of our local economy and ability to attract clean industry.”
“Don’t Slaughter Our Cove” points to reports on the critical practices of Pilgrim’s Pride, which include environmental issues, employee abuse, workplace safety violations, animal cruelty and labor rights. Protestors believe a chicken plant in McLemore Cove would have lasting negative effects on the watershed, creating major health issues for residents and potential workers. The group noted that several thousand supporters across the country have contacted them through Facebook, an online petition, email and phone calls.
McLemore Cove, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, is the protected valley between Lookout Mountain and Pigeon Mountain. Several creeks run through the area: West Chickamauga, Hogjowl, Mud, Voiles and Mill. The cove is about three miles south of Chickamauga, Ga.
About McLemore Cove
McLemore Cove is named after a prominent Cherokee/Scottish family who settled in the area during the 1820s. The Cove also played an active role during the Civil War in the events leading up to the Battle at Chickamauga. The area developed a few small communities with further growth occurring when the Chattanooga Southern Railroad was established in 1887. Industry also developed at Estelle during the early 20th-century with the mining of iron ore. A group of residents formed the McLemore Cove Preservation Society in 1989 to protect the cove from a power plant and to preserve its history.