Written by Kurt Gibbs
More than 20,000 local addresses will change later this year…
Marathon County is eliminating its 10 existing address grids and implementing a single Uniform Addressing System across 40+ participating municipalities (mostly unincorporated towns, plus the Villages of Elderon and Stratford).
The goal of the new Uniform Addressing System is to help emergency services provide the RIGHT SERVICE to the RIGHT PLACE at the RIGHT TIME.
In January 2018, the Marathon County Conservation, Planning, & Zoning (CPZ) Department will begin to mail an initial postcard announcement to residents, landowners, and business owners who will receive new addresses. New Uniform Address signs (and any new street-name signs) will not be installed or delivered until at least April 2018, beginning on the east side of Marathon County and moving west by municipality over the course of many months. The project is estimated to be completed by November 2018.
Why implement Uniform Addressing in Marathon County?
Marathon County is the largest county in the state geographically, providing 911 emergency services for all of its 62 cities, villages, and towns. It is one of only four counties remaining in the state without a Uniform Addressing System.
In an emergency — when seconds matter — Police, Fire, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel can lose precious time searching for an address due to confusing addresses or hard-to-read address signs. Such delays can result in the loss of property and even lives.
According to Marathon County Sheriff Scott Parks:
“The reality is that without accurate and timely location information, our Communications team might inadvertently dispatch services to the wrong location. Despite our best efforts, this does happen.… Thankfully, these situations are relatively infrequent. But even one time is too often — especially if it happens to YOUR family. All citizens of Marathon County should be able to count on emergency services when placing a 911 call for themselves or a loved one.”
To improve public safety, the Marathon County Board voted in 2016 for a county-wide Uniform Addressing System to eliminate:
- Duplicate addresses
- Roads with the same or similar names
- Numbering that is not sequential
- Odd and even numbers on the same side of the road
Preston Vande Voort, Geographic Information Specialist with the Marathon County CPZ Department, explains:
“To reduce the existing road name confusion, CPZ and the municipalities identified and changed over 600 road names that were similar, duplicated, or inconsistent (for example, there were 27 Pine Roads listed in Marathon County). Now residents and visitors will be able to travel throughout Marathon County on a more consistent and logically named road network system.”
Which municipalities in Marathon County will Uniform Addressing affect?
As of January 10, 2018, the 41 municipalities participating in this Marathon County Uniform Addressing project include: Bergen, Berlin, Bern, Bevent, Brighton, Cassel, Cleveland, Day, Easton, Eau Pleine, Elderon (town), Elderon (village), Emmet, Frankfort, Franzen, Green Valley, Guenther, Halsey, Hamburg, Harrison, Hewitt, Holton, Hull, Johnson, Knowlton, Marathon, McMillan, Mosinee (town), Norrie, Plover, Reid, Rib Falls, Rietbrock, Ringle, Spencer (town), Stettin, Stratford (village) Texas, Wausau (town), Weston (town), and Wien.
As of January 10, 2018, the 21 municipalities NOT participating in this Marathon County Uniform Addressing project include: Athens, Abbotsford, Birnamwood, Brokaw, Colby, Dorchester, Edgar, Fenwood, Hatley, Kronenwetter, Maine, Marathon City, Marshfield, Mosinee (City), Rib Mountain*, Rothschild, Schofield, Spencer (village), Unity, Wausau (city), and Weston (village).
* At the time of publication, application of the Uniform Addressing System in the Town of Rib Mountain was being reviewed by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Check www.MyMarathonCountyAddress.org for status updates on municipal participation in the Marathon County Uniform Addressing project.
NOTE: The TOWNS of Marathon, Spencer, and Weston ARE participating in the Uniform Addressing project (but NOT the VILLAGES of Marathon City, Spencer, or Weston).
The TOWNS of Mosinee and Wausau ARE participating (but NOT the CITIES of Mosinee or Wausau).
Will there be a charge for replacement address signs?
Property owners and businesses will NOT be charged for County-issued replacement address signs. In response to concerns from local municipalities regarding the financial implications of the proposed Uniform Addressing System policy, Marathon County has elected to pay $1.2 million to cover the cost of the Uniform Addressing project. According to Marathon County Administrator Brad Karger:
“The County Board Supervisors have truly demonstrated our core value of Shared Purpose in agreeing to foot the full bill for the government cost of Uniform Addressing. The law permits them to shift the financial burden onto the participating communities. They didn’t have to do anything — but after listening to local officials, they moved from a cost-sharing arrangement to generously deciding to cover the entire cost, even though the county has its own financial issues.”
When will the new addresses be released?
When the installation date nears in Spring 2018, the CPZ Department will mail an official installation/delivery notice to residents, landowners, and business owners whose addresses will be changing. This official notice will provide the new six-digit address and an estimated date of sign installation/delivery by the County’s contracted company, Lange Enterprises.
*** AFTER a new address sign is installed/delivered by workers from Lange Enterprises, residents and businesses may begin to use (and notify others of) their new address. ***
Who will you need to inform of your new address?
Handy checklists of entities that residents or business owners will need to inform of their address change are available at www.MyMarathonCountyAddress.org.
Marathon County will take care of notifying the following entities of all address changes in the County (so residents and businesses do NOT have to):
- Marathon County E911 Communication Center
- Local Fire & Police Departments
- Municipal officials
- Marathon County Clerk (Elections)
- Marathon County Treasurer (Tax Bill)
- Other Marathon County governmental departments
- United States Postal Service
NOTE: After address sign installation/delivery, Marathon County will coordinate directly with the United States Postal Service (USPS) to update their records with the new addresses. Recipients of a new Uniform Address will NOT have to file a change of address with the USPS, as they will automatically receive one year of free address forwarding (from the date of sign installation/delivery) courtesy of the USPS.
How might area businesses be affected by the Uniform Addressing project?
Businesses may be affected by this project either by having their own address change or by having many of their clients’ or customers’ addresses change. Clients may contact businesses directly to update their address. In most cases, however, businesses will need to update any new addresses themselves.
Later in the year, the CPZ Department will provide a cross-reference table at www.MyMarathonCountyAddress.org that matches former addresses to their corresponding new Uniform Addresses. With the use of this downloadable spreadsheet, businesses should be able to easily update any address changes in their databases.
Where can residents / business owners go for assistance?
The Marathon County CPZ Department is committed to helping residents and businesses through this change. They have created a dedicated Uniform Addressing website — www.MyMarathonCountyAddress.org.
The site contains project updates, maps, checklists, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and Quick Reference Guides with helpful tips and tools for residents and businesses affected by this Uniform Addressing project.
Residents can also call the Marathon County Public Library (MCPL)–Wausau Headquarters Reference Desk at 715-261-7230 with questions or visit any of the nine MCPL locations for one-to-one assistance or a FREE paper copy of the Quick Reference Guides for residents and businesses (available for download at www.MyMarathonCountyAddress.org).
In addition, Dave Eckmann, President/CEO of the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce announced:
“The Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce will offer a pair of free question-and-answer programs open to businesses impacted by this project. These hour-long events — to be held at our office in downtown Wausau on Thursday, January 25, at 7:30 a.m. and Thursday, February 1, at 6 p.m. — are open both to Chamber members and to non-members in Marathon County. Business owners in the 21 municipalities not participating in the project may also wish to attend as their customers/clients may have addresses that will need to get updated. For more information on these events or to register, visit www.WausauChamber.com.”
* * *
As Chair of the Marathon County Board and as a business executive, I understand the need for County government to utilize the best possible systems when it comes to delivering emergency services. The current addressing grid in Marathon County simply does not do that.
I’m so proud of the process the Board used in making this very difficult decision. They truly researched all options available to address this county-wide public safety issue and came up with a top-notch, thorough Implementation Plan (available for public review under the Documents tab at www.MyMarathonCountyAddress.org.) Helping Marathon County reach its goal to be the safest county in Wisconsin was an important factor in the Board’s decision.
Although I fully understand the inconvenience that changing this many addresses will cause, I’m sure you’d agree that when it comes to an emergency — either involving your own loved ones or anyone else living in, working in, or visiting Marathon County — time is of the essence.
If some moderate inconvenience is what some residents, landowners, and business owners must endure now to put improved systems in place to help emergency response personnel with their goal to deliver the RIGHT SERVICE to the RIGHT PLACE at the RIGHT TIME, then that’s what we must do. It’s time.
Every life in Marathon County matters. I would have a hard time sleeping at night if the Board did NOT vote in favor of providing emergency response personnel with the best possible tools to do their job.
If you have any questions on whether your street will be renamed, what the timelines for implementation are, what happens if you accidentally provide your old address to 911 in an emergency, or anything else — I invite you to visit www.MyMarathonCountyAddress.org for compete details, as well as helpful guidebooks for businesses and residents, address-change checklists, and other resources to help make this upcoming Marathon County Uniform Addressing project easier on those affected by it.
Chair | Marathon County Board of Supervisors
Kurt Gibbs is the Chair of the Marathon County Board and has also served as a Marathon County Board Supervisor representing District 32 since 2006. He has owned and operated Kurt Gibbs Tax Service, Inc., since 1986, specializing in farm accounting and tax preparation. He also served as a volunteer Fire Fighter for 18 years and a volunteer First Responder for the Village of Marathon Fire Department. In his free time, Kurt enjoys woodworking, fishing, cheering on the Packers, or doing yardwork. Email Kurt Gibbs
NOTE: This article may be reprinted in its entirety (minus the graphics) for your newsletter/publication upon request. Please email CountyNewsletter@co.marathon.wi.us to request permission to reprint/adapt this article.
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