On Thursday, Sheriff Kenny Christopher and a host of deputies paid a surprise visit to a homeless camp that locals refer to as “Tent City.” Christopher said it there are at least 20 people living in tents in the area just off of I-40 at Exit 126.
“This is private property and we have received countless complaints about panhandling on the exits, so it is time for these folks to move on,” Christopher said. “Most of the complaints have come from local businesses, but there have been citizen concerns, as well.”
Christopher also said the property owner had no knowledge of any persons on his property. The landowner lives out of state.
There are more issues with campers than just trespassing. The sheriff said there are signs there is also a drug problem there. In addition, a man was arrested just this week for outstanding warrants.
“It is just time,” the sheriff said. “With the cold weather coming in, these people will be more comfortable somewhere else. Plus, we need to make sure that no matter where an issue arises in Benton County, we are there to take care of it. Our number one priority is the safety of our citizens. Not all, but a portion of these people living here illegally are not law-abiding citizens, and that is something we won’t tolerate.”
The residents have until November 7 to leave. After that date, any remaining people are subject to be arrested.