The Hiawatha City Commission met on Tuesday evening, with the group slated to discuss the ongoing make mandate inside the city limits.

The request to revisit the mask mandate was made by new Commissioner Brian Shefferd, who said he had several concerned residents contact him. He doesn’t think the ordinance is enforceable and business owners should handle mask protocol on an individual basis.

Mayor Bill Collins asked a representative from the Brown County Health Department and the Hiawatha Community Hospital their opinions, with both reps firmly in favor of maintaining the order. HCH CEO John Broberg also noted that those vaccinated should still be wearing masks in public.

Commissioner Shefferd made a motion to the rescind the mask mandate, but the motion died with no second. He made another motion to re-open the Fisher Center, which also died on the floor, though the commission and Parks and Recreation Director Stacy Jasper said they believe the city is close to returning to open status. City facilities had been closed since Nov. 18 to help mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus.

Commissioner Becky Shamburg and Mayor Bill Collins agreed they were not ready to open city facilities back up or rescind the mask mandate at this time. Collins felt a plan needed to be in place before the city made a move to reopen facilities.

In other business:

Tuesday’s meeting was the first for newly elected commissioners Brian Shefferd and Evans Woehlecke.

The commission heard from two representatives of property owners on the list of properties recently condemned for demolition seeking extensions. Both requests were denied as the commission felt the properties were either beyond saving or had been given enough time to make improvements prior to being condemned.

Water and Lights Superintendent Brad Scott informed the commission that the city clock should be chiming again by later this week.

HP&R Director Jasper shared with the commission what the department has been doing while services have been shut down. Jasper said that the department has lost some business due to uncertainty in the Fisher Center’s availability, and that parks have seen an upswing in vandalism in recent months.

The commission voted to allow Jasper to advertise for seasonal help for the summer, as well as to solicit bids for the city fireworks display.

The group also voted to approve a bid from Hamilton Recycling and Disposal for city property trash service in the amount of $1,380 per month. The Consent Agenda was also approved, which included utility refunds in the amount of $432.65, and a payment to Suez Utility Service Co. in the amount of $11,873.78.

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