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Address shift complicated

March 12, 1998

By AMY WALLAUER

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Some Berkeley County residents may have to go through two address changes in the next year as a result of a U.S. Postal Service plan to realign carrier routes at the same time Berkeley County is reassigning street names to enhance emergency services.

Although carriers will be affected most by the realignment, the postal addresses of some residents with rural route numbers will be changed.

"It's a duplication of effort," said County Commissioner Robert Burkhart. "It's really a waste."

Mary Kackley, Berkeley County's 911 director, said the county is in the middle of the address conversion and doesn't know why the postal service is making the changes now.

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The address conversion project will assign street addresses to every home and business in the county, making it easier for police, fire and ambulance crews to get to the scene of an emergency.

"I don't see any sense in doing that," Kackley said.

Ed Weaver, manager of post office operations for the Eastern Panhandle, said the post office can't wait any longer. Because of the county's rapid growth, some customers aren't getting their mail until after dark, and that is inconvenient for customers and dangerous for carriers.

"We don't want the customers to have to change their address twice," Weaver said, adding that he wants to work with the commission to correlate addresses.

"We're making sure we adjust our routes so we can provide more timely service to our customers," he said.

Weaver said some of the 3,500 to 7,000 addresses affected by the route changes will have to be changed twice.

"There are probably going to be some occasions for there to be a change this year, then depending on how fast we get the emergency 911 system in place, they'll have to change again," Weaver said.

He said those cases will be rare and limited to those who live on rural routes, not fixed street addresses.

Regardless, the Berkeley County Commission agreed to send a letter to the U.S. Postal Service Thursday, asking Weaver to hold off on route realignment until Emergency Services finishes naming the roads.

Kackley said there are 450 unnamed roads in the county and the people working on the project haven't even begun renaming similar-sounding roads or duplicated road names.

The renaming should be complete on paper by late April or early May, with street signs erected a year later, she said.

But Weaver said the route realignment is expected to begin in Martinsburg in the next couple of weeks, and continuing into Hedgesville, Shepherdstown, Kearneysville and other areas of the Eastern Panhandle.

"We can't wait for the county because we have to provide our customers service," Weaver said.

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