Marion County Commissioners Approve Panhandling Ordinance
Roadside panhandlers in Marion County may need to find a new place to go.
County commissioners have unanimously approved a panhandling ordinance.
Commissioners said they've had numerous complaints regarding panhandlers.
Now people will not be allowed to sit or stand in unincorporated roads in Marion County to beg for money, information or other objects.
Panhandlers said they don't choose this lifestyle, but it's a means of survival.
"I got a wife, a dog. I live in a tent. I don't want to be out here," said James Shepard Williams.
Forty-two- year -old Williams lives in a homeless camp off of exit 341 in Marion County.
After being in prison five times and having a disability, Williams said he can't find a job.
"I got no choice, but to be out here. If I, I don't want to be out here anymore than nobody wants to see me out here. Give me a job," said Williams.
John Southard used to be a horse trainer, but now he lives his days panhandling.
"So if you don't want to see me out here, put me to work. I will probably be one of your best workers," said Southard.
Now no one is allowed to be within four feet of the edge of a road for the purpose of distributing materials, flyers or goods.
This will be enforced in unincorporated parts of Marion County. Commsisoner Carl Zalak said he supports the ordinance because it affects traffic safety.
"What we are looking to do through this ordinance is to not only make sure the pedestrians are safe, but the motorists can go through traffic like they are suppose to and not be hindered by these exchanges that are happening in a consistent basis in our community," said Commissioner Zalak.
Many residents who attended the meeting expressed why they were in favor of the new law.
"We've gone by and they've been screaming at a each other and fists fights break out. If your a motorist that's scary because you don't know what's going to happen next," said Jan Lemon who is a resident of Marion County.
The mandate came into affect soon after the commissioners voted, forcing people like Williams to find a new place to go.
"We are going to have to find somewhere else to go I guess because they are going to start running us off,"said Williams.
Deputies will start enforcing this law by giving out warnings to anyone who is begging for money, giving out flyers or any other materials.
This also includes charities.
The penalties are a fine up to $500 and can include up to 60 days in jail.
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