by Geoff Fox
A letter from the Washington County NG911 Addressing Initiative was sent out earlier this month alerting a number of Hancock residents when their address would be changing for the county’s new Next Generation 911 system.
According to a letter obtained by The Hancock News, the county is holding an information session on Tuesday, February 25, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the auditorium in Hancock Town Hall.
Representatives from Washington County and local fire and rescue stations would also be available to explain the changes and answer any questions.
The session comes three weeks before the March 16 effective date of the address changes.
The proposed lane and road re-naming will take approximately 60 days to complete and should be effective some time in April, said Bud Gudmundson, GIS Manager for Washington County.
Those living along lanes or roads that will be re-named have been notified by mail as well.
Those who live on a street like part of Maryland Avenue that was cut off due to Interstate 70 coming through, the process might take a little longer. New names will be selected with input from residents, dependent upon approval of the county.
Gudmundson said affected citizens can refer to the Addressing Ordinance for Washington County for a more detailed description of the process.
“We explained to residents receiving the change letters that it is in their interest to reduce the possibility of error when they need to call 911,” he said.
When the public meeting is held on February 25, Gudmundson said there will be representatives from first responders to emphasize the need and importance of the changes to the public.
“We are also working with the County Public Relations Department to get the word out that first responders are asking that these changes be made for the public good,” he added.
Most people understand even though there is a short term inconvenience with the change, Gudmundson said it will benefit the public in the long run, especially when they need it most like when their life or property depends on it.
“A few people are upset, and we understand that,” he said.
When asked what the cost to the county would be for renaming the streets in Hancock and throughout Washington County, Gudmundson said since the county is erecting the new street signs, the cost is part of the normal sign replacement process.
The cost for citizens would only be to make sure the new address is posted properly on their home and at the end of their driveway if it is longer than 25 feet.
The county will notify the Post Office, Property Tax Assessment Office, and “a few other agencies.”
Aside from the NG911 system and making a location easier to find for first responders, Gudmundson said there are other benefits to the change of address.
He noted anyone looking for a person’s house would find it easier and there might be fewer problems with deliveries of mail and packages.
The final implementation of the NG911 has not been set as the process of purchasing and installing the new equipment in the 911 Center is still ongoing.
Gudmundson said it would be some time next year when the system goes live.
Leitersburg was the pilot area. The process will then move west to east, then north to south.
“We are using fire districts for the implementation areas, as the local fire companies are working closely with us to help educate the public,” Gudmundson said.
Gudmundson said the county appreciates the cooperation and understanding of the public “in this large undertaking.”
They understand it will be disruptive for a short time to a limited number of residents, but the benefit is worth it.
“The fire and emergency medical personnel want to be able to find everyone as quickly as possible,” Gudmundson said. “If it saves one life (or one house) it will be worth it – it could be yours.”
Gudmundson said there are approximately 50 other addresses in the county where addresses either need to be corrected or private lanes need names.
There are no road names in the Hancock Fire Company response area of Washington County that are slated for change outside Hancock’s town limits.