City commission discusses mask mandates

Vincent Marshall

At the city commission meeting on Monday, commissioners and city manager Nick Hernandez discussed the Ford County COVID-19 response from the previous week where commissioners voted to approve County Order No. 1, opting out of the requirements set forth in Gov. Laura Kelly’s Executive Order 20-52.

The Board of County Commissioners and health officer still recommend wearing a mask, social distancing and hand washing.

The approval stems from the governor mandating counties to require the wearing of masks when in public places.

City officials stated by looking at internal numbers and over the past 15 days, according to information from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment website, the number of cases is on a downward trajectory, as well as the number of hospitalizations with no new deaths.

Commissioner Joseph Nuci asked how many active cases Ford County has. However, according to assistant city manager Ernestor De La Rosa, KDHE did not have that data shown.

The testing rates are still listed in the double digits, with confirmed cases coming back in the single digits.

According to Hernandez, the city can pass an ordinance requiring masks.

"At any time if the commissioners feel it is in the best interest of the citizens we can; however, at this time, we do not feel it is necessary," Hernandez said. "Unless we start to see an increase again. That is our recommendation for the time being (on the city administration side)."

As a condition precedent to allowing the State of Kansas the discretion to issue temporary permits for the consumption of alcohol, city commissioners approved a temporary alcohol permit.

"Even though many of the events during Dodge City Days have been canceled, there still are establishments and businesses within the city that are planning to still have events," city finance director Nicole May said.

To have the temporary alcohol permit, the city needed to approve an ordinance designating Dodge City Days as a Special Event, a move that has been done annually for the festival.

"In order for establishments to sell alcohol in streets or public areas or outside of their business, the city must designate a festival or other community gatherings," May said.

The designation was approved 3-2.

Commissioner Rick Sowers and Mayor Joyce Warshaw were nay votes.

"It flies in the face of medical advice to the governor's desire to remain in Phase Three of the lockdown (due to COVID-19), and we're still talking street parties, we're still talking dances, the results in Florida, Arizona, Texas, doesn't bode well for us," Sowers said. "We're the highest per capita rating in Kansas right now.

"I'm not trying to talk anybody into it, I'm just explaining my vote is going to be no on this."

Warshaw said she voted no with Sowers "for the same reason."

Commissioners also approved a contract with Great Plains Development to administer the CDBG-CV funds.

According to Dodge City/Ford County Development Corporation executive director Joan Knight, the city was awarded a $132,000 Community Development Block Grant on June 2, with the funds used to provide grants to businesses to retain low- to moderate-income jobs.

"In this process, we had to solicit bids for an administrator for those and we did receive three bids," Knight said. "We had a review committee look at those, the bids were received from Thrive Allen County, Ranson Financial Group and Great Plains Development, Inc.

"The fees will be paid out of the grant funds and all three financial company's were the same on the charges."

Knight said they have had previous work with Great Plains Development and is familiar with them, which led to them being the option chosen as a local provider.

The funds administration with Great Plains Development was approved with a 5-0 vote.

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