Panhandlers Still Working Marion County Streets
It's been two weeks since Marion County Commissioners passed a panhandling ordinance, but if you drive throughout the county, you'll see some panhandlers are still lingering around.
"Every corner. Off the interstate, right next to walmart," said John Hopkins.
On Tuesday there were people holding up signs on Highway 326, Highway 484 and Highway 475A, but only one panhandler actually received food from a driver, which is a violation of the new panhandling ordinance.
The new law prohibits people from sitting or standing within four feet of the edge of the road for the purpose of exchanging materials, flyers or goods.
Holding a sign does not violate the ordinanace.
Under the law, panhandlers are allowed to hold a sign that tells people to pull into a shopping center and then they can do the exchange.
Lisa Michelle James is a homeless woman who tells me she doesn't consider herself to be a panhandler.
"Panhandling is when you go to a gas pump and ask for money. We don't ask for money. We ask for work. That's what we want. Not panhandling. I wouldn't ask you for money, but I 'll ask you if you can give me a job," said James.
She said if someone gives her money, she would take it.
She explained how holding up her sign that reads "Need work broke and hungry" sometimes helps her find employment for the day, which is why she is not going to stop.
"He will pull up in a truck and take us all to work tearing down fences, cleaning stalls," said James.
In the meantime, Marion County Sheriff's Office is working with the State Attorney's Office to train deputies on the law.
Deputies will have training starting April 17th and then they will start educating residents.
Panhandlers will receive warnings if caught in the action of exchanging.
The penalties are a fine up to $500 and can include up to 60 days in jail.
"How do you expect a homeless person to pay $500. What are you going to do put it on my credit," said James.
A certified copy of the ordinance was filed with the Department of State on March 27th, which means the panhandling law in Marion County is in affect.
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