Verify & display: 911 director asks county for help with address troubles

by Kate Shunney

Two key things have to happen for Morgan County’s first responders to render aid quickly in an emergency.

First, someone has to report the incident to 911 and say what’s happening or what has happened.

Second, they have to tell 911 where that emergency is.

Morgan County 911 Director Marshall Younker has been making new efforts to spread the word for first responders – help can’t reach you if we don’t know where you are.

Younker is asking the public to do their part.

“We need people to verify their 911 address and display it properly,” he said.

Several times each week, dispatches at Morgan County 911 get an emergency call where the caller either doesn’t know their official address or gives a dispatcher the wrong address for the location of an emergency.

That doesn’t include the calls where a passerby sees an incident and calls it in but doesn’t know the location for a variety of reasons.

Younker said he’s trying to tackle two problem — properties not using their official 911 address, and homeowners not displaying that address so a fire truck, ambulance or police car can locate the emergency scene.

“We continue to see issues with improper addresses being used as well and address not displayed or not displayed improperly.  While this may not seem to be relevant, during emergencies this can increase call process times leading to delays in dispatch.  With addresses not displayed correct it again can extend the time it takes emergency responders to locate incidents,” Younker said.

Morgan County adopted official 911 addressing in the 1990s, and later updated the county rules about addressing in 2015.

Those steps reset addresses throughout the county according to 911 guidelines.

Under 911 rules, addresses tell first responders several key things they need to know – distance from a major road intersection and on what side of the street or road the location can be found.

Even-numbered addresses are located on the right side of the road coming from the primary intersection, and odd-numbered addresses are on the left.

The numeric address is set by mileage from an intersection.

For example, a property at 2500 Valley Road tells dispatchers and responders that it is located 2.5 miles south of the courthouse square on the right-hand side of the road.

Some property owners never changed their old addresses to the new 911 address, or property records weren’t updated with the new address.

Those changes can and should be made now, though.

Anyone in the public who is uncertain if they have the proper 911 address can verify that with the Morgan County Addressing Office or Planning Office by calling 304-258-8540 or calling the Morgan County 911 administrative line at 304-258-0305.

There is also an online address verification form available at

Display that address

Morgan County’s 911 Mapping and Addressing Ordinance lays out how to properly display an address for first responders.

A house number sign should be at least four inches high and have the numerals in contrasting colors on a reflective background.

Commercial building address signs should be six inches high.

If a home is not visible from a roadway, the address numbers should be posted at the end of the driveway to direct emergency responders toward the residence.

Addresses on driveways and homes should be visible from both directions.

Younker said there are lots of choices for where and how to get the address signs, but both Hunter’s and Dawson’s Hardware locally have the address sign kits.

Some particular parts of the county have had multiple incidents involving incorrect addresses for 911 calls.

Residents in those areas are encouraged to verify and display the proper 911 address. They include:

–Tri Lake Park (incorrect and improper display)

–Town of Paw Paw (incorrect and improper display)

–Town of Berkeley Springs (mainly improper display)

–Sleep Creek Campground (incorrect and improperly displayed)

–Houses in the area of Pious Ridge and Culp Road (incorrect and improper display).

Younker said he will keep trying to resolve the issue, as it can slow down getting help to people who need medical attention, law enforcement protection or fire response.

“Help us help you in the quickest manner possible,” Younker said.