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Planters aimed to deter homeless

Monroe County hopes containers keep campers away

– A southern Indiana county fed up with homeless people sleeping in the county courthouse’s alcoves has decided to take those inviting spaces away by filling them with large limestone planters.

The Monroe County Board of Commissioners approved a $5,000 contract Friday for two new planters that will each be placed in one of the courthouse’s two alcoves, mimicking limestone molding found on other parts of the building’s facade.

The new planters will be just under 2 feet tall and more than 6 feet long – long enough, officials hope, to prevent people from gathering in the areas.

The planters are the latest step in the commissioners’ efforts to halt camping on the building’s grounds. The camping has left garbage – and even human waste – behind, The Herald-Times reported.

“I am certain our maintenance crew will then fill them with beautiful plants that will enhance the overall courthouse lawn,” Angie Purdie, the commissioners’ administrator, said of the planters. She added that the decision to purchase the planters “was spurred from security concerns and aesthetics.”

In August, the commissioners set official hours for the courthouse grounds, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Anyone caught violating the ordinance, which also prohibits littering and consuming alcohol on the grounds, can be removed and found in violation.

Despite the ordinance, some camping has continued around the courthouse, including the alcoves, which once were entrances into the building but were replaced with windows as the courthouse’s interior layout changed.

Purdie said there are problems with smoking in the alcoves when it rains, a habit that’s not appreciated by employees working near the windows.

She said pranksters also sometimes sit in the alcoves hoping to scare unsuspecting passers-by.

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