Homeless problem addressed at city council meeting

| September 11, 2018

COSHOCTON – Coshocton City Council returned from its summer break on Sept. 10, to hear from a citizen who is highly concerned about the homeless problem in our community.

Karen Casey knows of at least one family who is so low income that they camp during the summer by the river to save money for bills in the winter when it’s cold.

“Before you ban camping on city-owned property, you need to look at the whole problem, not just the symptom,” she said.

Monty Shell from Buckeye Brine also shared with council that the Ohio EPA has issued two draft permits to the company to convert two of its three Class II wells into Class I non-hazardous injection waste wells. They are not operating in this manner yet, but have completed all the necessary paperwork with the EPA to make the change. A public hearing on the topic will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18, at Coshocton High School.

Tyler Shipley also introduced himself at the meeting and shared that he is running for state representative.

“I want to help bring back the voice to the community and be the most approachable politician in Ohio,” he said.

Safety-Service Director Max Crown announced that the new microphone system was up and running for the meeting and that it records automatically. He also shared that the city is about two weeks behind on paving projects because of all the rain, a new picnic shelter is arriving for Water Works Park and that the tree commission planted trees on Seventh Street and had four or five left over that were then planted at Bancroft Park.

When Mayor Steve Mercer took his turn to speak he addressed Casey’s concerns about the homeless problem in our community. He assured her that they have had multiple meetings with social service agencies and other concerned parties and have tried to find ways to address the issue.

At the meeting they gave first readings to ordinance 35-18 and 36-18. Ordinance 35-18 defines vagrants as any person who by day or night loiters in an idle, disreputable or wandering way upon the streets, alleys, public places, private property, public shows, carnivals, or exhibitions of the city without being able to give a satisfactory account of himself, or who lurks, prowls or sleeps at night or day about or upon the premises of any person or at any public place without being able to account satisfactorily for his action or presence, or without permission from the property owner. Section b says no person shall commit any acts of vagrancy or be a vagrant within the city and section c says no person shall go about the city on public or private property begging for money, food, or property for his or her own use. This section shall not be construed or applied to prevent persons who are regularly authorized by religious, charitable or educational institutions from soliciting or asking for contributions. Whoever violates subsection (b) and (c) is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. Subsequent violations of subsection (b) for vagrancy upon land not owned by the offender shall be considered criminal trespassing as the first violations is notice against access to the property. Subsequent violations shall be charged under ORC 2911.21 Criminal Trespassing. Ordinance 36-18 states that no person shall establish or maintain any camp or other temporary lodging or sleeping place within any park or other property owned by the City of Coshocton. Failure to obey this ordinance shall be considered a minor misdemeanor on a first offense. Subsequent violations shall be considered trespassing under Ohio Revised Code ORC 2911.21.

Casey feels these ordinances are just putting a band aid on the problem.

“These people need a place to go and one that is open to everyone,” she said. “We have to care enough to do something. We are spending money on other things, but this is people’s lives that we are talking about.”


Category: Government

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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