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Ethics

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Metamorphosis In An Appalachian Community
Carla Landes
Eth/125
11/04/2011
Kimberly Long

Metamorphosis In An Appalachian Community An influx of diverse ethnicities, races, and cultures in the last decade have benefited, and to some degree, stressed what was until only a few years ago a relatively homogenous Appalachian community. Moorefield, West Virginia, a predominantly White community, of which I am one, is historically a town driven by factories and food industry, has become a destination for those seeking entry-level employment in the United States. Moorefield is a small rural farming and agricultural community in Hardy County, West Virginia. Moorefield is the county seat of Hardy County. "Moorefield was originally chartered in 1777 and named for Conrad Moore, who owned the land on which the town was built. Hardy County falls along the border that split the state of Virginia into two when in 1861, forty counties in Western Virginia choose to succeed from the state of Virginia" (Visit Hardy County, 2011, pp. 1). For a hundred years or so, Moorefield has been a predominantly white, Anglo-Saxon community with only a few (less than 1%) African American families that were the single other ethnic race that resided in this community. According to the United States Census in 2010, "there were 4,820 people, and 626 families living in Moorefield. The racial makeup of the town was 98% White, 1% African American, 0% Native American, 0% Asian, 0% from other races, and 1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1% of the population" (United States Census Bureau, 2011, pp. 1). Looking at these statistics, it does not appear that much has changed in my community in the racial diversity or makeup in Moorefield. I grew up in this community and in all of my early childhood years, teenage years, and into young adulthood, I never recall any other ethnic group or families residing in this town, except for African American families. Even with close geographic distance to larger cities such as Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia, the diversity in Moorefield did not change with regard to large numbers of immigrants of other ethnic groups relocating to this area. The main industry in Moorefield has been the poultry industry, specifically one large company scattered throughout the United States called Pilgrim's Pride. This factory here in Moorefield has been the largest employer of the citizens in Moorefield for many years making the unemployment rate quite low in this area; however, within the last five years or so, especially with the diminishing economy, this large company too sustained economic hardship and thus the impact has affected many of my friends and neighbors drastically. Not unlike many industries in the United States, Pilgrim's Pride began by making drastic changes in their workforce enabling them to improve their "bottom line." One change of significance was slowly decreasing the numbers of vested employees and hiring a totally new, and I must say diverse workforce at a lower pay scale, thus the metamorphosis began in Moorefield. A company named East Coast Labor Solutions of West Virgina began working with and assisting Pilgrims Pride in Moorefield with the employment of their new workforce. East Coast Labor Solutions specializes in providing the poultry industry with foreign labor. The company e-verifies all employees, ensuring they are legal hardworking employees, and offers an alternative solution to labor problems, by providing a workforce from outside your immediate area (East Coast Labor Solution, 2011). The benefit to employing persons via this company ensures this company that they pay at a lower wage and they save money on payroll taxes, payroll, worker's compensation, and unemployment compensation as East Coast Labor Solutions pays this for each employee. Because of the current immigration climate, this means greater scrutiny may be applied to current hiring practices. This company guarantees that their employees can work legally within the United States. They handle all of the documentation and processing of selected applicants for verification by the United States Department of Homeland Security. With the influx of these immigrants coming into Moorefield to work at Pilgrim's Pride, the White, Anglo-Saxon citizens, who for many years depended on this company for his or her livelihood, was now gone. The most tragic instances of this influx were the husband and wife couples who both worked at this facility and his or her jobs were lost. This happened to many households in my community. The negative impact was clearly the destruction of the White, Anglo Saxon employment base in Moorefield. The employment issue is not the only concern, as there have been several other negative impacts with the increase in immigrants flowing into the community, including the county school system and the housing limitations in Moorefield. The school system just in Moorefield includes four separate schools and include Moorefield Elementary, Moorefield Intermediate, Moorefield Middle School, and Moorefield High School. When I asked Barbara Whitecotton, Superintendent of Hardy County Schools, what impact this has had on our school system, she explained that the county budget continues to dwindle each year because of the increased number of immigrants because of the already stretched budgets that existed prior to this situation. She told me that more of the budget now goes into hiring personnel for ESL (English as a second language) classrooms, and this in essence exhausts the budget, and personnel for "White" classrooms cannot be filled. In addition to this, she informed me that the language barrier grows each year with the different cultures that have been brought into the area. I was quite surprised to learn that not only has the Hispanic population of immigrants increased, but also now the school system currently has immigrants from Burma, Burundi, some Asians as well as several immigrant families that have sought political asylum in the United States from the Congo. With the addition of these different cultures relocating to an area predominantly White and English-speaking, the language barrier has been quite difficult to overcome with regard to successfully placing students into classrooms. The largest negative impact that I have noticed affecting Moorefield the most is the lack of housing. Housing has been a problem in Moorefield for as long as I can remember, as far back as when I was in high school. The rental properties were scarce. Rental properties today are virtually nonexistent now because of the increase in population in Moorefield. Most of the immigrants have to rent because they are not United States citizens and cannot buy property in the area. Renting is their only option. Rental units when available typically are rented to multiple families or multiple individuals in one rental property. The landlords charge each family or individual separately for rent. I spoke with one owner of rental property here in Moorefield, Debbie Crites. She told me that it is more lucrative for her to rent to the immigrants than it is for her to rent to a single family. She can charge double the rent, depending on the number of persons per rental unit versus making one set rental amount with a single family or individual. She also explained to me that her rental properties now are never empty for long because every six months the new immigrants with work visas come to the area to work and need housing. Because of this change in attitudes from owners who have rental property, the already limited housing situation just went from bad to worse. I have not seen any new rental properties built within the last year or more here in Moorefield that would help to alleviate the housing shortages for the community. The increase in the immigrants in Moorefield has had a few positive impacts that I have seen. The small business community here has benefited from the increase. Many of the small business were struggling to keep their doors open. I have noticed recently Moorefield has had several new businesses open, and I believe this is definitely in part to the increase in the people in the community. Economically, this has been a positive change in Moorefield. Also there appears to be a specific positive impact in the local schools. The teachers with some of the immigrant students in the classrooms have started to integrate into his or her lessons an introduction of the different countries, cultures, and languages. With this type of introduction, the local area students can understand better and identify the diversity that these students bring to Moorefield. The influx of immigrants has had a negative impact on Moorefield more so than the few positive impacts. This small rural community was not prepared for the social or economic impact that such cultural changes created. My close-knit community has always shown impeccable hospitality to strangers and new citizens to this area; however, never in Moorefield's history has such cultural differences existed. The impact of jobs taken and resources being diminished in the schools has definitely left this small Appalachian community reeling with the realization that the past is just that, the past. Citizens of Moorefield are now more leery of "strangers," and realize that the future is more uncertain than at anytime in the history of this town.

References
East Coast Labor Solution. (2011). East Coast Labor Solutions, LLC. Retrieved from http://eastcoastlabor.com
United States Census Bureau. (2011). State and County Quick Facts. Retrieved from http://census.gov
Visit Hardy County. (2011). Hardy County Civil War History. Retrieved from http://www.visithardy.com
Whitecotton, Barbara, Superintendent of Hardy County Schools
Crites, Debbie, Rental Property Owner…...

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