Facebook group

Councilman Tye Parsons (left) and Mayor Ben Lipiec discuss extending the local face covering mandate at the Nov. 23 city council meeting. Members of the Maryville and Nodaway County Resident Council Facebook group expressed concerns with the Nov. 24 emergency order.

A week after its inception, a local Facebook group called the “Maryville and Nodaway County Resident Council” garnered a following of close to 800 people spread across the greater Maryville area.

The group was created to begin a forum for civil discussion among members regarding issues affecting residents of Maryville and the surrounding area. Those in the group often discuss improving water quality, adverse effects of COVID-19 mandates, roads and infrastructure and small business growth to name a few.

As word of the group spread to people across the county, moderators and admin of the page had to filter out fake accounts and remove some people that did not participate in a productive manner.

Group admin Jason McComb said he created the group after recognizing the importance of  people to be better informed and on the same page with how the local government was handling the issues they are passionate about.

“I think there is a lot of speculation, and I think it still happens in the group somewhat, and I’d like to get to the point where we get actual information,” McComb said. 

The group’s 791 members, a number that continues to grow, participated in a poll published to the page by John Mcbride Nov. 30. Improved water quality ranked the highest, gaining 148 votes, effects of COVID-19 mandates got 76 votes, 66 votes went to roads and basic infrastructure and 58 votes went to small business growth.

In the comments section of the poll, several members said they couldn’t decide because the issues were all equally important, or that the poll didn’t represent their biggest concern. 

Even with these concerns, voter turnout for municipal elections has been consistently low. In the 2020 municipal election, only 485 ballots were cast for the City Council race — the governing body most people in the group tend to share their thoughts about.

Isaiah Korthanke, a member of the group, is one of some looking into a recall petition. 

“I’ve reached out to city clerk Stacy Wood in regards to the total number of signatures needed… We will need 25% of voters registered to vote for city council. We will have 60 days to do so,” Korthanke wrote.

Not many responded to Korthanke’s post, and have instead been pushing voter turnout in the next municipal election. 

“We may be better served getting 2 additional conservative candidates put on the council in April,” Mcbride said in response.

McComb said he doesn’t have an opinion on recalling Council members, but would like to see government processes act out naturally, that he would push for a higher voter turnout in April 2021.

“That part is more of some of the group members… and I’m not even trying to pretend to control the group whatsoever, I just try to keep it civil,” McComb said. “I’m more of the mindset that we have two seats coming open in April, let it happen naturally. Not even one way or the other. It would just be nice to see more people come out and participate.”

Though the group is marked by frustrated citizens who feel unheard in their concerns, people like Amy Gessert are also in the group. Her post Nov. 27 also reflected a push for civility.

“Any chance we can agree as a group not to be jerks to the people who have to enforce the mask and occupancy mandate, like the sweet girls working the door at Walmart today?” Gessert’s post said. “I’m sure they’d rather be literally anywhere else.”

Going forward, McComb said he hopes the group will continue on with its purpose as a group of concerned citizens voicing their concerns to those who can help make a difference in their community.

“I think there’s been too many years when everybody has been settled in their own space, not being nearly as community minded as in years past,” McComb said. “It would be good if we got back to a little of that.”

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