WINFIELD, W.Va. -- The Putnam County Commission voted unanimously Thursday to exempt a large portion of Teays Valley Road from its 911 addressing ordinance after multiple business owners said they would take a huge economic hit.
The commission exempted the part of Teays Valley Road that begins just outside the Hurricane city limits and extends to Poplar Fork Road, now called Scott Depot Road, where the Hurricane zip code ends and the Scott Depot one begins.
More than 50 business owners and citizens attended an open meeting Thursday night to voice their concerns on the address changes. Putnam County 911 has assigned new addresses to thousands of county residents in order to comply with state and national standards. The Putnam County Commission adopted an ordinance regarding the address changes in 2003.
"For me, there are two things going on. One side is the business end; I'm going to incur all of the business expenses associated with this," said Teresa Thompson, a Nationwide Insurance agent on Teays Valley Road. "To have my address changed is an enormous expense -- the sign outside our office cost $8,000."
According to Thompson, her office insures 2,700 customers, and she's concerned for them just as much -- most are residents in Putnam County, and could miss payments or have trouble with their policies in the confusion.
"This is huge; people are losing their insurance coverage because we don't have their addresses," she said. "It's people who are losing their policies because their mail is being returned and they're missing their payments and their policies are cancelled for non-payment. As a business owner here, it seems to me that we are hurting ourselves."
The Office of Emergency Services submitted a preliminary list to the USPS months ago, before several other exemptions were made in the ordinance. Some residents have received mail sent to a new address mistakenly because the U.S. Postal Service routinely sells information to outside companies, OES Deputy Director Jason Owens said.
John Johnson, an administrative law judge and Hurricane resident, said the commission needed to consider issues for residents that the county didn't foresee, including changing deeds, wills, and replacing passports.