Ore. city's businesses concerned about panhandling

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ASHLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A recent Chamber of Commerce survey has found widespread concern among business owners about aggressive panhandling in a southern Oregon town that's home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The Medford Mail Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/HOlwlC) that business owners told the Ashland Chamber they were concerned for the safety of their patrons and employees and worried that the panhandlers would deter tourists.

And Shakespeare Festival Executive Director Paul Nicholson wrote recently to the City Council, saying the festival has been troubled for years by the impact of certain homeless people on the community.

Earlier this month, the City Council directed Police Chief Terry Holderness to draft a new "time-out" law for possible adoption by the council. Repeat offenders would be barred from downtown for a certain period of time. They could be arrested for trespassing if they return.

The Chamber of Commerce also plans to install donation boxes downtown, encouraging people to help fund services for the homeless rather than giving money to panhandlers.

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Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/