indiana borough bldg sign

Indiana Borough’s proposed ordinance enforcing state mask guidelines with possible fines has prompted multiple responses on Facebook pages of the borough, The Indiana Gazette and other local venues.

“I want Gerald Smith to give me my first citation,” posted Rob Sheesley, an Indiana County Republican committeeman from East Wheatfield Township. Smith, vice president of council, pressed for the ordinance out of concern for rising numbers of positive COVID-19 cases just as students were heading back to classes at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

“Disobey then file suit,” suggested Dom DeFazio, an engineer from Ernest. “Lawyers will be busy.”

It also has triggered plans for an anti-ordinance rally Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. outside the borough’s municipal building at 80 N. Eighth St., 90 minutes before council holds a virtual voting meeting.

“Come out and show your opposition to this,” Deborah Shreckengost posted on Facebook Sunday afternoon.

So far, much of what has been posted is in opposition.

On the other hand, Downtown Indiana Inc. is distributing posters stating, “We’re in this together,” and promoting the wearing of masks and photographs of such portrayals with a “Together Indiana” contest.

“Working together, we can keep each other safe,” the posters read. Over the weekend the organization, which promotes downtown interests, has been busy distributing those posters to businesses.

“They look great,” Downtown Indiana Inc. Executive Director Linda Mitchell posted on Facebook. “Good work, Borough!”

It promotes a concept the borough recently launched, “Together Indiana,” which, according to a separate Facebook page, is meant “to provide a unifying voice for community members as they work together to combat the coronavirus. Working together to take proper steps to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus we will maintain our economy, continue to care for our citizens, respond to community needs, and continue to efficiently provide services and resources to our residents and businesses we serve.”

That concept is in line with resolutions passed during a July 21 council meeting, which also included a discussion of the proposed ordinance giving borough code enforcement employees authority beginning Sept. 1 to enforce state COVID-19 guidelines.

That ordinance is on the agenda for Tuesday’s 7 p.m. meeting, which will be accessible by a Zoom system linked to the borough’s website.

“Borough residents, businesses and persons visiting the borough shall wear facial covering consistent with Exhibit A to this ordinance,” states the proposed rule. “Exhibit A” is a set of guidelines written by state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, including a definition of face coverings that “can be made of a variety of synthetic or natural fabrics, including cotton, silk, or linen (or) a plastic face shield that covers the nose and mouth.”

Enforcement could begin with a warning to someone not wearing a mask, but then citations could be issued fining the individual $50 for the first offense, $75 for the second and $300 for the third.

Shreckengost was an organizer of the July 3 rally outside the Indiana County Court House that sought to urge county officials to pass an ordinance prohibiting the county from taking part in, or spending public funds on, any restriction of firearms that would violate the Second Amendment.

Estimates of those in attendance ranged from 125, as reported in the Gazette, to more than 200.