By DOTTY NIST
No more permits will be issued for groups wanting to solicit funds along county roads in Walton County, at least until after Labor Day.
Concerned about dangerous situations created by roadside solicitations in recent weeks, county commissioners voted to suspend the issuance of any new permits for these activities. The decision took place at the June 24 Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting at the Walton County Courthouse.
“It’s a huge problem,” said District 4 Commissioner Sara Comander.
“It’s very dangerous,” agreed District 5 Commissioner Cindy Meadows.
Traffic has been very heavy on roads south of the bay since the beginning of tourist season, particularly on the county roads south of U.S. 98.
Two years ago the BCC adopted a set of policies for roadside solicitiation that were said to be a documentation of procedures already being followed by county staff in connection with these activities. A county permit is required for a group to solicit funds along the right-of-way, and a charitable benefit to the citizens of Walton County is a permit requirement. Only nonprofit groups are eligible for permits. According to the policies, bucket drives are not allowed during holidays.
At the June 24 meeting, there were complaints from citizens about a group the previous weekend collecting funds in the middle of the roadway, which is not allowed by county policy. Meadows said the group did not have a permit. Comander said it was her understanding that they were from Okaloosa County.
Mark Davis, interim county attorney, said he was working on an ordinance to further address the issue.
The vote to suspend the issuance of permits for roadside solicitations was unanimous.
The Walton County Sheriff’s Office may be contacted by anyone suspecting a group of soliciting funds on county roads without a permit.