City of Emporia

A motion to extend the city’s mask ordinance failed 3-2 in the Emporia City Commission Wednesday afternoon, meaning that when the current ordinance expires on Saturday, April 10, the city will be subject to the broader Lyon County health order.

Last week, the Lyon County Commission voted to maintain the county’s mask mandate indefinitely while rescinding restrictions on mass gathering limits.

Those who voted against the motion were Commissioners Jon Geitz, Danny Giefer and Susan Brinkman, while Mayor Rob Gilligan and Commissioner Becky Smith voted in favor of it.

The motion’s failure contradicted the recommendation of city staff as provided by City Attorney Christina Montgomery, who worked with public health officials to suggest that the city’s mask ordinance use identical language to the county’s.

“Just leaving it on there indefinitely is really troublesome,” Brinkman said. “We’ve already had a difficult time saying month-to-month ‘I’ll know it when I see it’.”

Giefer expressed that he believed a city ordinance was unnecessary.

“I’m wondering why we even need a [city ordinance] when we have a county one out there,” Giefer said. “At this point, we’ve had everybody have an opportunity to get vaccinated.”

Montgomery reported that, per the Centers for Disease Control, 23% of the county — which figures to 7,857 people — has been fully vaccinated as of April 6.

Smith said that having a city ordinance in place with several large events coming to town soon would be a good backup in case the county, for some reason, rescinds its mask mandate. Additionally, she thought that it would help businesses enforce mask-wearing in their establishments as, unlike the current city ordinance, the county ordinance does not have any criminal penalties associated with it, making it difficult to enforce.

“Especially for these next few events, it’s going to help EPD enforce it downtown,” she said. “Again, if the county already has one, I’m guessing they’re going to keep theirs through these big events. I’m good with an indefinite [end date] and just revisit it when we feel like we should.”

Gilligan echoed Smith’s concerns about needing a mask mandate during the slew of large events scheduled for the next few months and also agreed with Brinkman’s discomfort in regard to an indefinite end date.

Therefore, he made the motion to extend the city’s mask mandate until June 12, which would be the Saturday after the commission’s first action session of the month. Smith seconded the motion, which died shortly thereafter.

The commission also:

F Approved an ordinance to change city codes pertaining to alcohol service in drinking establishments to be identical to those of the state. This will allow alcohol to start being served at 6 a.m. rather than 9 a.m.

F Approved the 2021 Annual Operation and Maintenance Assurance Agreement with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. This agreement is signed yearly and indicates that the city has not changed the use of those parks for which it has received funding from KDWPT in the past.

F Approved a bid for the purchase of a new 1000-gallon aircraft refueler from Westmor Fluid Solutions in the amount of $124,950.

F Approved an ordinance to exempt Glendo LLC from property taxes for ten years after its $3.6 million 2019-2020 business expansion, which included 33,000 square feet of business space and six new jobs.

F Approved an ordinance authorizing a beer garden during the Dynamic Discs Open disc golf tournament on May 1.

F Approved a proclamation naming Thursday, April 22, 2021, as Earth Day.

F Approved a proclamation naming April 2021 as National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.

F Approved a proclamation naming April 11-17, 2021, as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

F Approved a proclamation naming April 30, 2021, as Arbor Day.

F Appointed Aaron Otto to the Emporia Main Street Board.

F Appointed Andrew Kraft to the Multi-Use Path Planning Board.

F Appointed Dan Colson to the Joint Metropolitan Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals.

F Recognized the city’s Finance Department for receiving the Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the 35th year in a row.

(1) comment


The only conclusion for the 3-2 vote by the city commissioners is that 3 of the commissioners never read any national news. Saying “At this point, we’ve had everybody have an opportunity to get vaccinated’ is ridiculous. We were stuck in Phase 1 for months and only in recent weeks has it been open for the other phases to receive vaccinations. Is it a requirement that city commissioners actually live in Emporia? Their votes and comments make one wonder WHERE have they been living during this pandemic.

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