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Street address proposal causes furor in Lewis County

by James Fisher

REGIONAL WRITER

Residents in several areas of Lewis County received letters last week saying that portions of Rural Routes 1 and 3 have been renamed Rural Route 5 and the appropriate address changes should be made.

Ordinarily, such a change would not cause a fuss. But because the Lewis County Commission is in the midst of discussing an ordinance that would create city-style street addresses for every county resident, many rural residents opposed an address change now.

After Monday's commission meeting, the U.S. Postal Service has decided to forego the address change for now and allow the county to make the appropriate changes, said Jeff Bice, manager of the postal service's address management systems for the Appalachian region.

"We're sending out letters telling people that if they have not yet changed their address, don't bother," Bice said. "Anyone who has already changed their address can either keep the new address or go back to their old one."

Bice said the decision to consolidate parts of Routes 1 and 3 was actually made about a year ago. The change has caused some double-handling of mail, he said, because a single carrier delivers all mail to a route. For example, if a person lives on a part of Route 1 that has been renamed Route 5, both carriers end up handling the mail, Bice said.

"This was something designed to improve efficiency and to reduce the amount of time it takes mail to be delivered in some of the rural areas of Lewis County," Bice said. "We had talked to Lewis County officials about this, but because they hadn't passed the ordinance, they couldn't release any addresses to us. Now that they've committed to re-addressing within six months, we reached an agreement that anyone who hasn't changed won't have to."

Lewis County Commission administrative assistant Robin Poling said Monday that several people had expressed their concern to commissioners about the address change.

"We had several people come in, very irate, thinking that it was the commission doing this," she said. "We've been working on this ordinance to change the addresses for three years."

The change to city-style street addresses will make it easier for 911 and other emergency personnel to locate houses, she said. A public hearing on the proposed ordinance is slated for 10 a.m. Monday in the commission meeting room.

Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446.

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