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Harrison County Residents Confused by 911 Addressing Changes

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CLARKSBURG -

The Harrison County Bureau of Emergency Services has spent the last few months updating and changing addresses throughout the county to simplify them for emergency responders.

In the last few days, residents in the Clarksburg and Bridgeport areas started receiving their notifications, some of them with some concern and confusion.

Harrison County 911 Director Paul Bump said that residents have one year to complete their changes, and said most of the changes will be automatic. Bump said utility companies, for example, subscribe to the United States Postal Service's address database, and therefore many customers will not need to contact their utility company of the change.

But there are some exceptions. Bump said items like driver's licenses, identification cards, passports and registration cards will not be automatic.  

Bump said he understands the public has questions and concerns, and asked for everyone's patience in the process.  

The Mapping and Addressing Office set up a phone number and a team designed to focus just on address changes and conflicts associated with it.  Bump said the Mapping and Addressing Office is meeting next week to put together a cheat sheet for residents.  In addition, Bump said there were some mistakes and correction letters will be in the mail shortly.

One family that may receive one of those letters is the Johnson's in Stonewood.

Janet Johnson and her husband have had a Holden Avenue address in Stonewood with the 26301 zip code for more than ten years.

But they recently received a letter in their mailbox with notification that their address will be changing to a different number on Holden Street in Clarksburg with the same zip code.

Janet Johnson said this is problematic, because there is a Holden Street in Clarksburg too.  Johnson said her family ordered a pizza one night and it accidentally went to Clarksburg, she fears more important information could do the same.

"There is a Holden Street in Clarksburg itself, from what I understand it's a block long. If our mail comes 208 Holden Street it, there have been times it goes to Clarksburg and it delays our mail," said Janet Johnson, a resident of Stonewood.

The problem stems from the zip code 26301 which includes Clarksburg, Stonewood and Nutter Fort. Bump said that zip code automatically populates for Clarksburg.

Bump said there are no duplicate addresses and even if her address reads Clarksburg, her mail should still go to her home in Stonewood. But Johnson sees issues with it still.

"Everything has been a Stonewood address. Even our taxes come to Stonewood. My driver's license is Stonewood. Everything is Stonewood, West Virginia, 26301," Johnson said.

Bump said the Johnson's should still use their Stonewood address and said some correction letters will be going out in the mail.

"There's a couple we know, their new number will be a three digit number, their neighbor's will be a four digit number," Johnson said.

Johnson said she sees issues with address changes on her own street too, as her neighbor was given an address 20 numbers higher than hers and lives just a few feet away.

Johnson said she agrees with address changes to improve emergency services, but for those in rural areas or where mistakes frequently happen.

"Drivers license changes, registration changes. I haven't seen anything that the DMV isn't going to charge for that," Johnson said.