Chandler, Meeker boards say ‘no’
CHELSEA WEEKS Staff writer
Chandler’s City Council voted Tuesday night to adopt an ordinance to mandate facial coverings, then revoted a few minutes later and voted not to adopt it.
The change came after Glenda Temple realized she had voted in error and wanted to change her vote.
Council members revoted and the motion item failed 3 - 2.
Mayor Gene Imel and council member Rick Evans voted for the ordinance while Virgil Wilson, Robin Crouch and Glenda Temple voted against the ordinance.
Crouch recommended no action, rather encourage and recommend masks to be worn.
“That’s what the people are telling us they want,” she said.
Crouch said she thinks it’s best to give people the choice to choose whether they want to wear a mask or not.
“We are here to represent the people of our community,” she said.
Before the council voted, they took a poll from the attendees.
More than 60 members of the Chandler community attended the meeting.
Three people raised their hands in support of the ordinance. 49 raised their hands against the ordinance, leaving several who didn’t vote.
Of the 60 attendees, eight people were wearing masks.
Two people spoke in favor of the ordinance, while nine people spoke out against the ordinance.
Those against the ordinance brought a variety of reasons to the attention of the council members.
Those included infringement of personal rights, ineffectiveness of masks that are not N95 masks, an economic strain, the division it’s caused within the community, and the strain it would add to the police force.
Alex Capron, co-owner of Destinations, said he wonders if this ordinance will be the start of a cycle.
‘If we mandate masks, what kind of social conditioning does this put on us to when the flu rolls around at the end of fall or spring, are we going to go through this same cycle each time some sort of illness pops up?” he said
“Are we going to mandate masks? Are we going to close down businesses? What are we going to do in the future every time something like this happens?”
Capron said he understands the emotional and physical toll it’s taking on people, but that it’s also taking an economic toll on the entire community.
Traci Soderstron spoke in favor of the mask ordinance and said it would be for the good of the community.
Many of the people against the ordinance said it was an infringement of their personal rights.
Soderstron said there are a variety of current laws that infringe on everyone’s personal rights, including seatbelt laws and texting and driving laws.
“We have limits on our freedoms right now,” she said.
Evans said they needed to do what was best for the community.
“What is the best tool to help control this virus?” he said.
Evans said in his opinion it was a mask.
BRIAN BLANSETT Staff writer
Meeker’s Town Board voted 3-1 Monday to take no action on a possible mask ordinance.
The trustees didn’t consider a specific ordinance, but had two agenda items concerning the possibility.
The first was a discussion by Anthony Buoy, of Anthony’s Foods, and the second was to “discuss, consider, take possible action to put in place a policy for mandating masks for the Town of Meeker.”
Buoy told the board he doesn’t believe masks stop the spread of the virus and that a mask ordinance would reverse the town’s trend of increased business activity.
“I think as a city we should not overreact to what the culture is pushing because the numbers do not show that we need to make any harsh actions that would hurt our thriving businesses, and if we needed to make a move requiring citizens to wear a mask let’s find one that will actually do what it’s supposed to do because they ones that are out there aren’t helping anyone,” he said.
“As the old-timers would say ‘we do not need to cut off our nose to spite our face.”
Buoy said business at his grocery store had jumped more than 30 percent after Shawnee enacted an ordinance requiring people to wear masks. He said customers had told him they no longer shop in Shawnee because of it.
“The way I see it, Meeker has a chance to gain business back that Shawnee has consumed,” he said.
The trustees discussed the issue for several minutes, with Jeff Wilbourn saying he thought the town should leave the choice on masks up to individuals.
“People should make their own decisions,” he said. “I don’t think anyone should be forced to do anything.”
Donna Weber said she agreed and Rick Hill said doctors had told him that virus infections won’t slow down until a vaccine becomes available.
Weber made the motion to take no action, Wilbourn seconded it and Hill joined them in voting “yes.”
Mayor Aaron Head voted “no,” saying that masks are “like wearing your seatbelt - it’s a pain and inconvenience” but are helpful.
Seven people sat at the head table during the meeting. Head wore a mask the entire meeting and Hill and Town Attorney James Hodgens had face coverings during parts of the meeting. Hill, Weber, Town Administrator Dickie Walton and Town Clerk Mary Conner did not wear masks.
In other action, the trustees:
- tabled possible action on a proposal to change an ordinance requiring a $500 surety bond for vendors at events in town. The board has a special meeting Thursday and will consider rescinding the ordinance then.
- took no action on a potential marketing agreement for home warranties for sewer and water.
- tabled an item limiting the number of days residents may hold garage sales.
- took no action on occupational taxes for the sales of alcohol.
- Acting as the public works authority, voted 3-0 to give Head permission to drill a water well on property he owns at 402 Wilkerson Lane. Hill said it would be cost-prohibitive for the town to run water lines to the property