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Joplin Proposed Panhandling Ordinance Draws Discussion - KOAM TV 7

Joplin Proposed Panhandling Ordinance Draws Discussion

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Joplin, MO -

Joplin's City Council tonight will discuss a proposal to cut back the number of panhandlers on busy intersections.  Solicitors would be prohibited from being within 150 feet of any intersection where speeds are 35 miles an hour or higher.

68-year-old Glenn Demas is homeless and panhandles.  For the time being, he's the only one in the area asking for donations.  But more people will arrive.

"Matter of fact," says Demas, "where you pull into Walmart, I saw one a little while ago until the police pulled up here."

"We typically receive quite a few calls and complaints about people panhandling, or asking for money," says Captain Trevor Duncan with the Joplin Police Department.  "You end up with a vehicle that doesn't go on a green light and the car behind them is honking at them."

The City already addresses panhandling on both private and public properties.

"But it does not prohibit people from being in a busy intersection and being where they could interfere with traffic," says Duncan.

"It's unfortunate, sometimes, because people's cars break down or they have some unfortunate situation.  They do need help," says Craig Gold.

Gold, a Joplin resident, doesn't fully support removing panhandles from busy intersections.

"I think what Joplin needs to do for these people is to have some sort of educational resource available to tell these people that there are areas in the City where they can get certain kinds of help," says Gold.

Demas says he never has and never will panhandle at busy intersections.

"Somebody could get hurt," says Demas.

He says it's a good idea to not allow panhandlers at the busy intersections.

"I've almost seen wrecks at the corner, with me standing here looking down there.  They pay attention to the sign and not where they're going," says Demas.

So Demas will keep asking for contributions at his usual spot.  He says he doesn't trust the homeless organizations available to him.

This proposal does not deal with changing penalties of illegal solicitation, only the enforcement.

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