Near the end of Monday night’s Dyersville City Council meeting, Mayor Jim Heavens asked council members if he is correctly expressing council sentiments when he is asked to comments on masks.
“Every once in a while, I will get asked to react and make a comment on masks and COVID and what the council wants to do. I try to listen to what people are telling me and I have my own opinion on this, but is there anything anyone would like to say? Are we out of line here or not reflecting our people’s feelings on this?
The City of Dyersville currently has no mandate on face coverings. And while councilmembers may differ on whether to publicly encourage face coverings or masks with a public proclamation, they agree it would be difficult to enforce a mandate.
Councilmember Jenni Ostwinkle Silva said she would support action by the council. “I realize we are pretty hard strung as to what we can do legally, but I would voice my support in favor of some sort of face-covering policy or mandate. I realize this is nothing we can do at our level, but it’s becoming pretty clear that airborne transmission is an important route for infection. I see by zip code now we are one of the higher ones in the county. I’d like to see that go in the other direction.”
Councilmember Mike Oberbroeckling said that while it was finally good to see some numbers from county zip codes, the numbers didn’t offer much information. “The numbers didn’t tell me anything. Not where we are with positivity rates, nothing. No trends, just a raw number. I don’t think we have enough to even address it.”
An update received late Monday afternoon from the county showed the 52040-zip code as having 262 cases.
Heavens said he sees a difference between a recommendation or a strong recommendation versus a mandate.
“I think when you recommend or strongly recommend something, everyone reacts to that just a little bit differently. You can kind of see that around town. The thing I stumble with a little it is if we go to a mandate, how are we going to enforce that? Do we want the police to enforce it or the merchants or anyone who has a public place? I don’t know if that’s a place we want to go as a city.”
Oberbroeckling agreed with the mayor, adding, “I think recommendations at some point we could look at, there’s no way we could do a mandate in my mind. Individual businesses, if they so chose to require to have mask on for people to come in, they have that right. It’s a private business.”
Councilmember Mike English said that while he agreed with Ostwinkle Silva, he sees Heavens’ and Oberbroeckling’s points. “Perhaps we could pass a proclamation, not mandating it, but highly recommending it. That’s just a thought.”
English said he believes many infections stem from large gatherings. “I notice events that include crowds are back. They won’t do it (wear face coverings). I think that’s where a lot of these cases are coming out of.”
Councilmember Jim Gibbs added, “I agree with the mayor, it would be hard to mandate. But as the City of Dyersville, we can recommend it, we can encourage it.”
Councilmember Tom Westhoff said, “Anything we can do to lead by example or help promote mask-wearing I think is an effort that is worth it. My own performance in this area has probably been inconsistent. A mandate probably isn’t happening unless it comes from above (state or federal government), but I don’t see that happening. So whatever we can do locally, we lookout for our citizens in all other aspects. This is definitely public health and public safety so let’s see what we can do to help mitigate this.”
Heavens appreciated the council’s feedback. “I want to make sure I’m not giving any thoughts the council doesn’t generally agree with. That’s why I wanted your feedback, to make sure I’m not way off on this.”
In other action, the City Council:
• Approved renaming the Westside Park/Candy Cane Bridge the David Vorwald Memorial Bridge after Vorwald, the longtime city public works director for Dyersville. Vorwald worked for the city for over 31 years, passing away in Jan. 2019 from multiple myeloma.
Heavens called the action “a great tribute to a good friend and a great colleague.” Oberbroeckling added, “I knew Dave and he knew my family for many years. What a prince of a man. He was such a great man and our city reaped a lot of benefits from his 30 years with us.”
• Authorized City Administrator Mick Michel to sign contract payments to:
Contract Payment No. 3 to Steger Construction, Inc. in the amount of $588, 392.67 for X49 from 1st Ave. W to 12th Ave SW with a roundabout at 1st Ave W and X49.
Contract Payment No. 1 to Boomerang Corporation in the amount of $37,881.25 for water system improvements 2019 – contract B water main improvements.
Contract Payment No. 4 to Top Grade Excavating, Inc. in the amount of $340,565.61 for Southeast Collection System Diversion 2019.
• Approved an hourly rate of $140 plus reimbursement of usual and normal expenses as compensation for city attorney George Davis at Locher & Davis.