Preserving Saferty

THE TOWN Hall meeting staged in Morristown last week was targeted to keeping small post offices in Belmont County open.

Only time will tell if the forum served a useful purpose in that regard, but with no postal officials in attendance that is doubtful. Small-town post offices will always live in fear of closing during the financially strapped times endured by the U.S. Postal Service.

Regardless of what may happen if – or when – local community U.S. Postal Office locations are closed, any related mailing address changes will not affect the response of fire departments, emergency medical services or law enforcement agencies to any physical address in case of an emergency.

Safety concern was one of the outstanding issues raised during at the town hall meeting, focusing on the possibility that if a resident’s zip code on their mailing address changed, it may cause confusion if and when those residents call 911.

According to Belmont County Commissioner Ginny Favede, there are many streets named Main Street and some other common names in different communities, and if towns that lose their post office have to rely on the St. Clairsville Post Office and carry its 43950 zip code on their new mailing addresses, emergency crews may respond to the wrong address.

That is a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, it is tragedy that will likely be averted.

Favede said this issue has been broached with Robyn Marshall, Belmont County 911 director. Marshall made it clear that residents should have no concerns about emergency response issues, despite what happens with their mailing address. She stressed that when 911 calls come in the sheriff, fire or ambulance are dispatched to come to that residence.

That being the case, confusion is eliminated and safety is enhanced.

We realize that small-town post offices will be hard-pressed to remain in service. Consolidation is a national postal trend, one we hope Eastern Ohio post offices can avoid for as long as possible.

But when and if that eventuality arrives, it is reassuring knowing that our safety will not be compromised.