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Re-addressing process in Lewis waits on feds

by James Fisher

REGIONAL WRITER

WESTON -- Lewis County Emergency Services officials are waiting for the U.S Postal Service to finish converting rural route numbers to street addresses so they can begin notifying residents of their new permanent address.

Emergency Services Director Bill Rowan said Wednesday his staff actually finished their work on the re-addressing process before county commissioners approved an ordinance authorizing the change.

"Basically, we went out and did the field work and then we did the ordinance. Our part of it (is) done," he said. "We're hoping the postal service can get everything done and back to us before November so we can send out the letters."

Rowan said the November deadline is important because that is traditionally the beginning of the post office's Christmas season.

Jeff Bice, manager of the postal service's address management systems for the Appalachian region, said that probably won't happen.

"I'm pretty sure we won't be done by November," he said. "We'll do what we can up to the Christmas season. During that time, we don't notify anyone because people tend to set aside those types of letters.

"After the first of the year we'll pick it up again," he said.

Rowan said the experience of re-addressing Lewis County will greatly help the emergency services staff when they begin doing the same for Gilmer County. Gilmer County 911 calls are answered by the Lewis County squad, which dispatches Gilmer County police and rescue units.

"We definitely learned some things. It was a little more time consuming than we thought," he said.

Rowan said a few residents have expressed displeasure about the new addresses, but once the reasoning was explained most seemed satisfied.

"Once people think about the fact that the numbering system will tell emergency crews exactly where on a road the house is, they seem to be all for it," he said.

Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446

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