Lyon County Courthouse

City Commissioner Rob Gilligan approached Lyon County commissioners on the matter of Emporia’s recently-approved mask mandate during a regularly-scheduled meeting at the courthouse Thursday morning.

Referencing studies in favor of mask use and providing an updated look at the area’s recent rise in COVID-19 cases, Gilligan said he hoped county officials would consider adopting similar enhanced safety measures throughout all Lyon County municipalities and townships.

“[The commission] has obviously had conversations and you’ve been involved in this discussion before,” Gilligan said. “You certainly had to review [Governor Laura Kelly’s executive orders] in July when she made a mandate on a statewide level … You chose to opt out of it based on where our numbers were. You do know our numbers are significantly worse.

“You also know that starting next Thursday, hopefully, a couple thousand plus students will additionally move into our community … We know that concentrations of people is what increases the risk and the spread of this disease. Now, the disease may not have negative impacts as severely in younger populations, but it does lead to spread in our community … I’m here today to ask the county commission to reconsider their decision in early July of opting Lyon County out of the mask ordinance.”

Submitting his recommendation during the meeting’s public comment period, Gilligan left shortly after and commissioners did not entertain any official discussion on the matter. As the meeting advanced to its board reports session however, County Attorney Marc Goodman voiced his displeasure with the request, viewing it as a way for city officials to “force the county’s hand.”

“I’m sorry, but I just think it was uncalled for,” Goodman said. “I realize it was public comment, but it was upmanship and maneuvering that’s uncalled for at these times. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Neither fully agreeing or disagreeing with the city’s decision, Commissioner Scott Briggs attempted to provide more insight into the county’s original decision to reject July’s statewide mask mandate.

“Some of that decision was made on an economic basis, too,” he said. “With mask wearing, we talked about how the communities and businesses are affected, with some businesses having certain mandates and some not ... To me, what the city did was probably the right thing to do. It’s going to make the parents of the kids that are going to university feel a little bit safer.”

Complete information on the city’s current mask mandate can be found at www.emporiagazette.com/free/article_61682b36-d757-11ea-b75a-4f2a4e5353b1.html. The subject may be approached during future meetings of the county commission, but is not currently on any set meeting agenda.

In other business Thursday, commissioners unanimously re-approved a $250,000 allocation to Emporia State University to be used in the funding of student scholarships.

“About six years ago, [Former ESU President Michael] Shonrock came to the commission and we asked him a simple question: ‘What does Emporia State need?’” Commissioner Rollie Martin said. “He answered the question by saying they needed scholarships.”

Moving forward, the money will be used to aid local students — with priority given to residents of Lyon County and Emporia — in the pursuit of all their academic goals and future career aspirations.

“When we first started this program, one of the city commissioners said that for each student we can get to Emporia State, it’s like bringing in one job to the town or the county,” Martin said. “We’d like to keep things that way.”

(13) comments

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The article fails to report that Rob Gilligan was at the meeting on his own accord, and WAS NOT there representing the City Council. The title of the article is a false statement. KVOE.com reports "During the public comment portion of the meeting, Emporia City Commissioner Rob Gilligan addressed county commissioners on the topic. Gilligan, acting as an individual and not a representative of the city, requested commissioners consider action to adopt the city’s mask mandate countywide."

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I am so tired of Lyon County sending $250,000 per year to ESU for scholarships. That needs to end. We've already been taxed to help them, enough already!! I'm tired of paying sales tax to support this nonsense. If someone wants to fund ESU scholarships, they can send their own money directly to ESU. I'm tired of these County Commissioners with their tax-and-spend attitudes for this kind of stuff. Too bad we're not getting all 3 Commissions replaced with November's upcoming election.

cropduster1

You mention the ESU scholarships. What about the county giving money to the Dirty Kanza and Main Street of Emp[oria. You're right it all needs to stop

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Glad you mentioned the Dirty Kanza and Main Street. They shouldn't be getting Lyon County sales tax money either. If anyone thinks any of those places need money, by all means send them all you want out of your own pocket as often as you want. I'm sure they'll take the money. Go volunteer your time for their efforts if you want. The Lyon County Commissioners just need to quit with the idea that any outfit that shows up to a Lyon County Commission meeting wanting money should get some. The County has all kinds of its own direct infrastructure and obligations of various types that it is fiailing to maintain and the tax money needs to be spent on those things.

cropduster1

Hooray Mark Goodman. If the city had their way they'd run the whole county. Point in case. The county zoning regs. that are being considered. If I wanted the city to run my life I would move to town.

GROUCHO

Why does federal, state, county and city government treat this as a political decision? It's a health issue. It could be a matter of life or death. Wearing a mask is an effective way to stop or slow down the spread. It's just a temporary hiccup in life. Death is forever. Is that so hard to understand?

Vintage Queen

EXACTLY, GROUCHO! Well said.

Sally_Bowls

I have yet to read anywhere when this mandate will be put in place? Does anyone know?

I'm glad they FINALLY did the right thing and agree, unfortunately, if they would have done so sooner maybe lives would have been saved.

Ryann Brooks Staff
Ryann Brooks

The ordinance goes into effect once the legal document has been published in The Gazette. I believe it is set to publish on Tuesday which I will confirm tomorrow.

Sally_Bowls

Thank you! Much appreciated.

esustudent

Dr. HARVEY A. RISCH, PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, YALE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH and some other scientists have evidence indicating that hydroxychloroquine is highly effective in preventing Covid-19, especially when given in combination with the antibiotics azithromycin or doxycycline and the nutritional supplement zinc. The Trump administration donated 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to Brazil. Trump and Bolsonario take hydrochloroquine and they are doing fine. Weird, isn't it?

Chrism

I agree totally. This should have been a statewide, countywide mandate months ago. Look how many lives could have been saved. I hate when people say it’s an economic decision.

sportsfam

At least the City Commission had the fortitude to make a tough decision that will not be liked by all, but is for the good of all. This should be county wide, state wide, country wide. Shame on you for taking the easy way out.

Vintage Queen

Agreed, sportsfam. IF this were COUNTRY WIDE, we wouldn't have almost FIVE MILLION cases and a 1,000 deaths a day. IF everyone would just wear a mask, socially distance, take a bit of care, we could get this under control in a month. There would still be some cases, but we wouldn't have the most in the WORLD. The counties in KS with the lowest cases are the ones that MASKED. I STILL don't get why some STILL don't understand THEIR mask protects me if they have the virus , MINE protects them.

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