Cooling traffic fines with a fan

BRAZORIA COUNTY, TX Now there is a new plan to help people cool off, with help from people who have broken the law. It's a creative program to trade tickets for fans.

Brazoria County Justice of the Peace Jack Brown came up with this idea after investigating the death of an elderly woman in 2005. She and her husband were on a fixed income and had paid for her medicine instead of running their air conditioner. She died of natural causes, but in unbearable heat inside their home.

Brown decided something had to be done to help folks who can't otherwise help themselves.

In Brown's Brazoria County court he gives you the option -- pay your traffic ticket in full, or purchase and donate fans worth half the fine amount, plus court costs.

"If their fine is worth $50, [and] they bring in a fan worth $25, I'll accept that for their fine amount and defer their ticket," Judge Brown said.

In just the last three years through this program, the judge has helped collect 375 fans. That's nearly $8,000 worth for low income seniors.

Murphy Rankin is with the non-profit group ActionS, Inc. which delivers the fans across Brazoria County.

"It reaffirms faith in people, they don't have to do this," Rankin said.

The folks who receive these fans are more than grateful, particularly those like Reuben Kelly whose wife is bedridden. He says they do what they can to escape the sweltering summer heat and this fan will help.

It's small kudos like that and thank you cards that keep Judge Brown and his staff pushing this program. They know they are making a difference.

"It's really rewarding," the judge said. "I just get chill bumps when I see how the program has grown."

The best part for those donating fans is that their traffic tickets get wiped off their record if they don't have another traffic citation 30 days after making the donation.

To learn how to donate to the Cool Deal program, call ActionS, Inc. at 979-864-1480.

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