Lee County approves rule on fundraising at intersections

TUPELO – You’ll soon need more than a bucket and persistence to collect money at Lee County intersections.
At the urging of Sheriff Jim Johnson, the county’s Board of Supervisors this month accepted an ordinance regulating the often-abused practice of charitable roadblocks.
“It will at least make a person go through some type of step and allow us to regulate how many times an organization can do it and to check out if this thing is legitimate,” said Johnson, whose office had received numerous complaints from residents and legitimate charities.
“Before, you could stand out in the middle of the road and take up money for your long-lost aunt who may not even exist.”
Johnson said motorists actually avoided certain intersections – such as Highways 371 and 178 – because they had become hot spots for collections.
The ordinance requires groups to apply for a permit at the sheriff’s office at least 60 days before the planned collection day. Only two permits per year will be allowed, and only for groups that are governmental entities, charitable organizations or those deemed to “be in the best interest and welfare of the citizens of Lee County.”
Those who collect money without a permit face a $500 fine.
The ordinance covers roads within Lee County except those inside municipal limits. Many cities already have rules governing charitable roadblocks.
A public hearing on the matter is set for 10 a.m. on July 19 at the Lee County Justice Center. Supervisors are expected to adopt the ordinance afterward, and it will take effect 30 days later.
Board President Darrell Rankin said he and his colleagues were pleased to comply with Johnson’s request.
Also happy is Joe Batik, chief of the Richmond Volunteer Fire Department, which collects money annually to subsidize its budget.
“I hope it will address things to make it to where the people who really need it like the schools and fire departments and the civic clubs can go and legitimately take up for the community,” Batik said. “I’m tickled to death with it.”

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal