Postal rep says Zip Code change decision still pending
Residents present letters indicating insurance rates would increase dramatically

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Sept. 15, 2004 -- Representatives from the United States Postal Service's Dallas District office did not receive the warmest of welcomes in a public forum Tuesday evening to discuss an apparent fast-track plan to change the Zip Code for a number of residents in the Seymore and Reilly Springs area near Yantis.

Marie Webb, manager of marketing for the U.S.P.S. Dallas District, along with other district-level officials and postmasters from Sulphur Springs and Yantis, attended the meeting at the request of U.S. Rep. Max Sandlin and Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap.

Several of those families expressed immediate concern about changes that might be brought about in health care insurance and other services by the address change.

Marie Webb said the U.S.P.S. district office had been in contact with a number of utility services, satellite service providers and insurance companies who said there would be no changes in services provided if the zip code were changed.

Two residents were quick to respond to Webb and presented letters from insurance companies, one health and the other homeowner's insurance, stating rates would increase dramatically if the zip code were to be changed.

The marketing manager said she was here to determine what other problems might be brought about by changing the addresses and asked for copies of the letters and any others the affected residents might have.

"I'm trying to find out what the issues are that I can take back. I need to know that," Webb said.

Much of the discussion centered around how the notice came out. Spokeswoman Polly Gibbs said, because of that notice, the Post Office's process has been changed.

"That is something we have changed - our process," Ms. Gibbs said. "As to why it happened, any business has miscommunication along the way, and we are no different. It seems to be a simple miscommunication, and in the future, we will not be notifying customers in that manner."

Maps identifying the area on HC 01 that would be affected were displayed. The boundary line for the Zip Code and the county line between Hopkins and Wood Counties were vastly different.

A majority of the residents actually live in Hopkins County, but because of the Zip Code line will have a Yantis address. Post Office officials said there is no relationship between the two boundary lines.

"County line and Zip Code boundaries are two distinct matters, and a lot of people think they are more closely related than they are," Ms. Gibbs said. "It was brought to our attention through the 911 [addressing] where these customer's physical addresses were, then we used our Zip Code boundaries."

L.D. Williamson, executive director of Ark-Tex Council of Governments, the agency responsible for 911 addressing in Hopkins County, said the council of governments office was not, in any way, involved with planned change in Zip Codes.

At the conclusion of the hour-long meeting, Post Office Customers Relations Coordinator Polly Gibbs said a final decision on changing the Zip Code is still pending, and the information gained in the meeting would be considered before implementing the change.

"As we notified our customers in the letter, we had a 30-day hold on the changes, and that time has not expired yet," she said. "[We] are gathering information and gathering the concerns our customers presented to us tonight and will take those back to the district [office] and the decision will be made from there."

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