No beggars allowed

The Vandalia City Council approved on Monday an ordinance amendment designed to get rid of beggars, a problem that has been prevalent at main intersections in town.
The ordinance states, “No person shall beg or solicit alms within the city limits except when acting as a representative of a recognized charitable organization.”
The city drafted the ordinance after receiving numerous complaints about individuals with signs soliciting money at such places as Mattes Avenue near Murphy’s and Embers.
Police Chief Jeff Ray told aldermen, “It makes people feel uncomfortable when they pull up to the stop sign and someone is standing by their car.”
Mayor Rick Gottman added, “It’s really irritating some people,” especially when those begging for money are seen later on at a bar.
Prior to the law’s passage, Ward I Alderman Jerry Swarm questioned whether the ordinance would violate an individual’s right to free speech.
Ryan Connor of the city’s legal counsel, Burnside, Johnston, Connor and Jensen, told Swarm that similar laws have been passed successfully throughout the state.
“I would let anybody who wanted to challenge it challenge it,” Connor said.
Also at the meeting, the council approved, in a 7-1 vote, an ordinance amendment that established a Class T license and sets the fee for that license at $100.
That ordinance was drafted at the request of the Crawford-Hale American Legion Unit 95 Auxiliary, which wishes to hold wine-tasting events at the Legion Home.
The Class T license allows for the “retail sale of alcoholic liquor at a picnic, outing, festival or other such similar special occasion for consumption on the premises.”
The ordinance also stipulates that applicants must be a 501C-3 entity in good standing.
As aldermen discussed setting the fee for that license at a lower level, because it will be non-profit organizations using the license for fundraising, Donelle Conaway, owner of Something Special Florist, asked whether that action would result in her fee being lowered.
Conaway said that she currently pays a $300 license fee and that she doesn’t charge a fee for her wine-tastings.
Alderman B. John Clark told Conaway that the difference is that she offers retail sales of wine through her business.
In other action on Monday:
• Though there was no formal action, aldermen expressed their desire not to change a city ordinance that would allow Tony Flowers Jr. to have a dog kennel at his residence on North First Street.
Flowers asked for such a change last month, saying that he has registered field beagles and also trains beagles.
He said that he has “no more than eight field trial beagles (at one time), and some are owned by someone else, for training.”
Alderman Dorothy Crawford said that she has gotten calls from people in that area complaining about the dogs barking, and two aldermen spoke out against making a change in Flowers’s favor.
“I believe the ordinance should stand (as it is),” Aldermen Ken Hubler said. “I can’t see kennels in residential areas.”
Alderman Russ Stunkel agreed. “I’m sorry,” he said to Flowers. “A kennel is the city is not good.”
• Gottman announced that the public works department would begin oiling streets next week.
Public Works Director Marlin Filer said that streets south of Main Street and north of Interstate 70 will be oiled this year.
In a public notice in this newspaper, Filer informed residents that because they will be oiling streets, his department would not be picking up landscape waste through June 12.
• Gottman reported that the council will be acting on an ordinance amendment request that will allow caterers to sell alcohol off-site.
The ordinance would allow the sale of alcohol by caterers at events such as weddings and banquets, he said.
• The council observed a moment of silence for Cleo Wagner, the father of city police officer Shanon Neiber and recently retired officer Todd Wagner.
• Gottman reported that the city has successfully passed the first phase of a state process related to the recruitment of a developer.
• The council approved the purchase an engine for a zero-turn mower from Bluff Equipment for $2,500.
• The mayor reported that he had given Filer the approval to have his department run a water line to Bark Park, the new dog park at the south end of Madison Street park.

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