Rockwood city leaders try to combat panhandling problems

Rockwood city leaders try to combat panhandling problems

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City leaders in Rockwood say panhandling has become so bad they need a law on the books that will end up costing people who get caught. City leaders in Rockwood say panhandling has become so bad they need a law on the books that will end up costing people who get caught.
"You always feel sorry for someone that needs something to eat or wanting some money," said resident Tim Cofer. "You always feel sorry for someone that needs something to eat or wanting some money," said resident Tim Cofer.
"There are a lot of people complaining about some people asking for donations or handouts," said employee Ashley Grant. "There are a lot of people complaining about some people asking for donations or handouts," said employee Ashley Grant.
"One time I had one come open my side-door when I was getting out at the store. That scared me. I didn't know what he was doing, but then he asked me for money," said resident Donita Scarborough. "One time I had one come open my side-door when I was getting out at the store. That scared me. I didn't know what he was doing, but then he asked me for money," said resident Donita Scarborough.

By LAURA HALM
6 News Reporter

ROCKWOOD (WATE) - City leaders in Rockwood say panhandling has become so bad they need a law on the books that will end up costing people who get caught.

While city leaders say they can't put a complete stop to panhandling, they're trying to prevent it.

They're creating guidelines with a new ordinance for when and where it can happen.

At Junior's Restaurant there's a sign, which says no soliciting, but some choose to ignore it.

"There are a lot of people complaining about some people asking for donations or handouts," said employee Ashley Grant.

Rockwood city leaders are trying to combat the problem with a newly proposed ordinance. Panhandling would not be allowed at places like bus stops, on the sidewalks of restaurants, parked cars, and even inside businesses.

Some downtown businesses say they're used to panhandling and this law might not work.

"They can regulate hours that they should be out here but that's the extent that I think they need to go," added Grant.

There are guidelines on time in the proposed ordinance. Panhandling wouldn't be allowed after sunset or before sunrise.

"You always feel sorry for someone that needs something to eat or wanting some money," said resident Tim Cofer.

Cofer says trying to enforce this ordinance may pose challenges since the fine costs $50. "If they don't have money in the first place where are they going to get the $50?"

Over at Rocky Top Markets, employees say people come in asking for cash almost daily and shoppers have had their fair share of encounters.

"One time I had one come open my side-door when I was getting out at the store. That scared me. I didn't know what he was doing, but then he asked me for money," said resident Donita Scarborough.

To prevent situations like that city leaders even have rules on how someone may panhandle.

"It could work, it could scare people off to where they're not doing that. But I think that's a problem everywhere though," added Scarborough.

Another guideline in this proposed ordinance requires people to get a permit if they want to sit on the street and ask for donations.

A final vote will be at the next city council meeting which is in September.

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