The first ordinance Maryville’s City Council passed in 2021 was an intent to build a new water treatment plant — the second to extend the local face covering mandate until 11:59 p.m. April 30.
The City Council was split on opinions to extend the mask mandate this time and the vote resulted in a 3-2 decision with councilman Jason McDowell and Mayor Ben Lipiec voting no.
A public hearing regarding the face covering ordinance preceded the Jan. 25 meeting, where fewer people wanted to talk than previous meetings where a public hearing was not an option. Citizens were given two minutes to speak on the subject. Four people spoke up.
Thirty minutes later, after a presentation from HDR Engineering on water treatment alternatives, City Manager Greg McDanel read opinions from local health officials. Mosaic Medical Center - Maryville, Northwest and others all supported an extension of requiring face coverings. At the meeting, the City Council heard from Tom Patterson, the director of Nodaway County’s health department.
“We’re focused on vaccines now, we’re not going backwards,” Patterson said. “We’re not asking anybody to do anything more, we’re just asking everyone… to hold on a little longer.”
Before the vote, councilman McDowell explained why he was going to vote no. He said there’s been a lot of talk among citizens about Maryville having a mask mandate with the guidance of county-wide numbers. He said he would like to see data more specific to the city.
“My vote is going to be ‘no,’ in hopes that… the health department take the lead and be more concise, I guess, with its action instead of piecing it all together,” McDowell said.
“I think they are not going to do that,” Councilwoman Rachael Martin said. “I think we’re in a position where we have to say ‘what can we do that we know to be effective’ and we can continue the mask mandate and it can be helpful.”
The conversation continued through Patterson, who stumbled over some of his words when all eyes kept focused on him — the county’s top health official. He said enforcing a county-wide mask mandate doesn’t make sense, but continuing one in Maryville does. After some prying from Martin, he said he supported the extension, but explained the county’s vision for the coming months.
“We’re focused on vaccines, we are focused straight ahead,” Patterson said. “So we’re asking our communities, our partners, our organizations… to continue practicing our mitigation efforts. There’s no reason to give up now. We’re getting better, we’re getting closer to a lot better picture. There’s no reason to quit now.”
Councilman Matt Johnson asked Patterson about vaccine availability in the coming months, a question that Patterson is still figuring out the answer to for the health department and the county. He explained that while he expects about 50-60% of Nodaway County’s population to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, it will be a while before all the supplies will be available.
The 50-60% is an estimate for how many could receive the vaccine in a six month time frame, a goal he said is focused on knocking down the COVID-19 infection rate in a sustainable manner.
“It’s not going to take vaccinating everybody, just enough of them,” Patterson said.
Patterson said a lot of news talking about vaccine distribution can project the idea that if there isn’t a high vaccination rate close to 100%, that it's a failure on the health department. This remains false, Patterson said, because the approach health officials take with vaccines to begin with is making a dent, no matter how small at first, in the number of people infected.
Even with flu vaccines, Patterson said, the county averages close to 35% of citizens vaccinated and the state of Missouri averages about 45%.
Hearing all this, Martin asked Patterson what the City Council could do to help the health department reach its goals and keep Maryville citizens safe.
“Keep doing what we’re doing,” Patterson said. And he repeated this mantra throughout his input for the City Council prior to their vote.
On perhaps one of the most controversial issues the five sitting City Council members have faced during their time in local government, a 3-2 split reflected the complexity of an issue that local governments are facing nationwide.
Councilman Tye Parsons made a Facebook post Jan. 25 following the meeting that explained his “yes” vote that night.
“My vote... was based in science, fact, and most importantly by information from federal and local public health officials,” Parsons' post read. “I voted to extend because it supports the efforts of Northwest Missouri State University — a key economic driver to our community and our region — to remain in class, in person, safely.”
The ordinance mandates that all people five years old and older in Maryville wear a face covering when inside public facilities or businesses open to the public, public transportation vehicles and outside when at least six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.
Enforcement of the face covering mandate is focused on educating and promoting COVID-19 mitigation strategies. Enforcement of the mandate is administered by first educating offenders of the mandate to achieve compliance, followed by a warning and a civil citation if necessary.
Individuals issued citations for violating the ordinance remain subject to a fine not exceeding $100. Those who own, manage, operate or control a place where face coverings are required and do not comply with the ordinance remain subject to a fine not exceeding $250.
Water Treatment Facility
HDR Engineering presented a breakdown to the City Council Jan. 25 of possible alternatives to treatment of water sourced from Mozingo Lake that could aid in the taste and odor issues Maryville has been facing.
During and after the presentation, City Council members discussed the necessity of a new water plant to meet the needs of the city. The intent to build a new facility passed In a 5-0 vote following HDR’s recommendations.
The engineering company ended up recommending the construction of a new building with new technologies to address ongoing issues. The estimated cost for a new water treatment plant as advised by HDR sits between $26 and $32 million.
As mentioned in previous City Council meetings, McDanel once again said this project would be a significant financial investment for the city. The Jan. 25 vote did not solidify any financial obligation, but the project is intended to continue with larger steps in the near future.
Two weeks ago after a Jan. 11 City Council meeting, Lipiec said improvements in local water quality is the current city project he is most excited about.
“As I told Greg (McDanel), we’re not necessarily looking for it to benefit you and I, we need to focus on 15, 20, 25 or 30 years down the road,” Lipeic said. “We need to make the best decision based on what HDR has provided for us to not only take care of now, but take care of the future.”
The official resolution describes the state of the current water facility, that while stable and operating, it is outdated and cannot perform tasks needed to tackle the ongoing issues with taste and odor Maryville citizens know all too well.
The city and Public Water Supply District 1 of Nodaway County will collaborate to take on the project with a comprehensive plan beginning with replacing lines on the distribution system.