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Panhandling Attracts Attention in Hunt County

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Imogené Wofford, Entertainment Editor

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Some local people have most likely seen panhandling one time or another such as someone standing on the side of the road, holding up a piece of cardboard with something like “Will work for money” or “spare change”.

Panhandling, sometimes referred to as soliciting, has become a growing issue in Hunt County.

Greenville City Council adopted an ordinance to regulate panhandling earlier this year, similar to the city ordinance of Commerce.

According to a spokesperson for the Commerce Police Department, “soliciting is illegal within the city limits and is classified as a Class C misdemeanor.”

In accordance with Texas law, a Class C misdemeanor is punishable only by a fine because it is the lowest level of criminal offense, with a maximum fine of $500.

Many local businesses do not allow panhandling, or solicitation, on their property.

“We do not allow soliciting here at all,” Broc Hohenberger, manager at Brookshire’s said.

However, if the solicitation is made by an approved group for a fundraiser or other related events, some places allow do it.

“We do not allow soliciting here, unless it’s for bake sales and such,” Bethany Whiteknight, manager at Dollar Tree, said.

Organizations like a school band, a little league team, or local fire fighters can be allowed to solicit money from passersby, as long as it has been approved by the business, that they will be in front of and may be soliciting in front of their business.

In order to solicit on the Texas A&M University-Commerce campus, individuals must go through the Dean of Students’ office and obtain permission.

“City ordinances do not apply on campus as this is state property,” University Police Department Lt. Bone said.

For more information on city ordinances and policies regarding panhandling and solicitation, visit the City of Commerce’s website, and interested parties can visit the Commerce Police Department or call at (903) 886-1139.

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Panhandling Attracts Attention in Hunt County