Council approves mask mandate for city of Wayne, swears in new members


Whether or not to require citizens to wear a mask was debated during Tuesday's meeting of the Wayne City Council.

Medical professionals, representatives of the Northeast Nebraka Public Health Department, council members and the public provided input on the issue during a lengthly discussion.

Dr. Melissa Dobbins, a member of the city's Board of Health and Julie Rother with the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department spoke to the council on the benefits of wearing masks, in conjunction with other safety precautions, in keeping the public safe. 

Both women suggested having the mandate in effect until a vaccine is readily available.

Council members spoke on the feedback they had received from the people they represent. Several changes in wording of the emergency ordinance were discussed and the sunset date of the ordinance was set at Feb. 2.

Several members of the public, both those in attendance at the meeting in person and those who were taking part via Zoom, expressed their thoughts on the mandate. These comments ranged from how the ordinance would be enforced to the fact that the mandate would take away citizens' freedoms to conducting more research on how many people are already wearing masks.

Council member Dwaine Spieker said the comments he had received were "10 to 1 in favor of the mandate."

Following the discussion, the council voted unanimously to amend the city code to require all those over the age of five years to wear face coverings when in public. Due to the emergency nature of the issue, the ordinance will go into effect on Friday, Dec. 4.

The sunset date will be reviewed prior to the Feb. 2 date and could be extended.

"We (city government) are not happy being put in this position. I don't like government telling me what to do, but we don't want this virus consuming our thoughts. We are not experts, but the experts are telling us this is in our best interest," Mayor Cale Giese said.

The complete ordinance has been posted on the city's website.

The city council meeting began with the swearing in of two new members and recognizing two outgoing members.

Jon Haase has served for 12 years on the council, representing Ward 4 and Jennifer Sievers has completed two, four-year terms representing Ward 2. Both were presented with plaques and thanked for their years of service.

Nick Muir will replace Haase as a Ward 4 representative and Yasuko Taoka will be the new representative for Ward 2.

Dwaine Spieker retained his position as the Ward 3 representative.

Council members also selected Jill Brodersen to once again serve as council president.

In other action, the council awarded a contract for the Pine Heights Road & Utility Improvements Project to Myers Construction.

Jon Mooberry with JEO Consulting was present to address a number of concerns council had voiced at the last meeting. He said he had checked into the company's references and said Myers Construction was aware of their need to meet the requirements for the project.

Gary Boehle with the Elkhorn Agency was present at Tuesday's meeting to discuss the city's group health insurance policy. He told the council that the coming year's premium will include a two percent decrease, but will have an increased deductible.

Council members waived the three readings on an ordinance that will amend the city code in regard to the Community Redevelopment Agenc (CRA). City Administrator Wes Blecke told the council the change was necessary to comply with state regulations and will result in members of the CRA serving five year terms. The mayor will make several more appointments to the group in the near future.

Council members set Tuesday, Dec. 15 following the regular meeting as the date for a mini retreat.

 The Wayne City Council will next meet in regular session on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the Wayne Community Activity Center.