Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mineral County Delegate, State of West Virginia Officials Go All Out to Court Pepper Sauce Plant

Despite the upcoming antagonisms of election year politics, one issue has linked West Virginia Democrats and Republicans hand in hand.

Hot pepper sauce.

Since the 1970s, Huy Fong Foods has crafted Sriracha hot pepper sauce in Irwindale, California.  David Tran, a South Vietnamese Army veteran, fled his homeland to escape Communism.  His creation has grown into a staple at many restaurants and a cult food classic.

Last year, four residents complained to the city of an odor coming from the plant.  Despite ruling the claims groundless, city council called the plant a public nuisance.

Using the same tactics that attracted some attention from firearms manufacturers looking for friendlier areas, West Virginia elected officials immediately contacted Tran.  Delegate Gary Howell (R-Mineral), State Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick, and the offices of both US Senators and David McKinley have joined efforts to lure Huy Fong to Mineral County.

Mineral County boasts industrial park space and abundant agricultural land.  West Virginia University extension agents can help interested farmers learn to cultivate the peppers.  The plant itself would bring over $300 million in investment and benefit not just local farmers, but also regional truckers.

A Facebook page started by local residents to support the proposal met with near universal support.  The few sour posts came from Maryland residents.  Of course Allegany County, Maryland has lost population, jobs, and business establishments over the past 12 years.  Mineral County has slowly grown in jobs and population.

Helmick and others plan to travel to California to meet Tran personally to lay out the proposal.

When leaders in different parties agree on the basics, like the need for jobs and development, there is ground to work together for the betterment of all.

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