Mount Shasta City Council decides against fines for businesses who defy mask mandate

Kelsey Shelton
Mount Shasta Herald
Tessa Montgomery is sworn in to the Mount Shasta City Council on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 from home via Zoom.

A proposed emergency ordinance that would have imposed fines on Mount Shasta businesses that don't follow mask mandates died at Monday's city council meeting due to a lack of support.

“It’s an issue of public health and safety, that’s why it is being suggested,” said city councilor Jeffrey Collings. Although he and newly sworn in councilor Tim Stearns were in favor of an ordinance, Tessa Montgomery, John Redmond and John Stackfleth decided that such an ordinance would be difficult to enforce.

Monday was a busy night for the Mount Shasta City Council as they presented outgoing councilors with public service awards; swore in new members of the council; elected a new mayor; and discussed the masking ordinance.

“It was an honor to serve and I look at it as one of the most satisfying things I’ve done in my life,” said Paul Engstrom, who spent four years on the council and decided not to run for reelection in November as he was presented with a plaque commemorating his time on the council.

Barbara Wagner, who was voted out in November, started her public service on the Mount Shasta Planning Commission in 2013 and spent four years on the council. She encouraged citizens to continue to participate in city government. “I’ve grown a lot from this, sometimes you have to take a beating, but resilience is key in this position. It requires resiliency and requires you to be yourself," Wagner said.

Tim Stearns is sworn in to the Mount Shasta City Council on Monday, Dec. 14 from home via Zoom.

 After presenting their awards, City Clerk John Kennedy Sr., swore in returning councilor John Stackfleth, as well as newcomer Tessa Montgomery and Tim Stearns, who served more than 20 years on the council before briefly losing his seat and being reelected in November.

In a quick process to select a new mayor, Stackfleth nominated Redmond, who will be serving his first year at the head of the council. Stearns then nominated Collings as mayor pro-tem and the motion carried.

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Mask ordinance

The ordinance was brought forward by Collings, who expressed concerns at previous meetings about Mount Shasta businesses that either don't follow the state's mask mandate or fail to enforce it.

The ordinance would implement fines for such businesses and would not enforce the wearing of masks by the public at all times.

Montgomery noted that the state has already implemented guidelines for restaurants, and she questioned how the city would enforce the ordinance without manpower.

Mount Shasta Police Chief Parish Cross said there would be no realistic way that his officers could enforce such an ordinance. He said more education is needed on the subject of mask wearing.

Finance Director Muriel Terrell said the Siskiyou County Health Department's code enforcement form is now available to the public to report mask violations.

However, “they do not have the ability to enforce," Howarth Terrell said. "But they would reach out and try to educate them and tell them why they need to follow the mandate."

At the end of the discussion, Stearns moved to approve the modified ordinance. With only his support and Collings' the ordinance died.