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Cookevile Councilman Wants Both Sides of Panhandling Heard

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader

A public hearing for Cookeville’s proposed panhandling ordinance will take place this Thursday. Cookeville City Councilman Charles Womack said his concern is not with the panhandling ordinance as it exists.

City Councilmember Charles Womack said a lack of public comment was the reason for voting no during the first reading of the ordinance.

“I think it’s very important for citizens to come and give the reasons that they think an ordinance should be passed or not be passed,” Womack said. “They can certainly influence my decision on which way to vote.”

Now, CPAC will be the forum for up to 100 citizens to give the Cookeville City Council both sides on a panhandling ordinance. This is where options and input previously unconsidered can be heard.

“There are things we may not have considered in our work session that people out in the community have thought about to some extent and have a strong opinion on,” Womack said. “We may be biased in what we are talking about.”

One option that has gone into effect is the city contract with UCHRA. Womack said the $50,000 contract with UCHRA for social work assistance is a step in the right direction in helping the poor and homeless. This contract is already being put to use, according to City Manager James Mills.

“I talked with Mr. Mills our city manager yesterday,” Womack said. “He said that the social worker has been consulted by the police several times in the last week since that contract went into effect.”

The ordinance prohibits the conducting of commerce including panhandling on right of ways, sidewalks and streets inside the city limits. City Manager Mills also revised the civic penalty for violating the ordinance. $10 on first offense, $25 for the second offense and $50 for offense number three. Court costs are waived.


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