Dodge City weighs-in on meat packing industry

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 10:31 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Nick Hernandez is a native of Dodge City, Kansas and is also the city manager.

“Every community is going to have crime, I don’t care what size of community you are, whether you’re a town of 2,000 or if you’re town of 100,000 you’re going to have that element of crime in your community,” Hernandez said. “So it’s just of matter of dealing with it and doing the best you can and moving forward.”

Dodge City is located on the western part of the state and is home to about 27,000 people. Its industry is fixed by two large packing plants, each employing 3,000 workers.

“It’s no different than any other community, some communities have higher crime rates than others,” said Hernandez. “It just really depends on the community, police force, and to an extent, outside factors that are contributing to that crime rate.”

In May 2012, the RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act was executed to deal with gang crimes in the community. The investigation took two-years to carry out. Twenty-three Norteño gang members were arrested as a result.

“The total from that RICO was 23 people out of 30,000 population, that’s not very many individuals,” Hernandez said. “We removed that element from the population and we’ve been absolutely wonderful ever since. I think the plants have done a better job in their hiring processes over the last twenty years. I think the individuals in the community demand better as well.”

Prior to moving back to his hometown, Hernandez was the city manager in Arkansas City, which is also home to a poultry plant. He says the benefits of processing plants outweigh the negatives.

“Whenever you can bring large employers regardless of the industry, you’re going to have a tremendous amount of benefit coming to your community, whether it’d be through retail, dining, it’s kind of a trickle down theory,” Hernandez said. “The housing markets are going to increase, you are going to be building more houses, more apartment complexes.”

“You may be talking 875 employees there in North Platte, but you probably may bring in another additional 1,000 jobs that supplement that packing facility, which is great to the community and great to the area.”

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