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Marathon Co. set to begin uniform addressing project

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More than 20,000 local addresses will change later this year when Marathon County eliminates its 10 existing address grids and implements a single Uniform Addressing System across more than 40 participating municipalities.

The changes will most heavily impact unincorporated towns, plus the Villages of Elderon and Stratford, county officials say. The goal of the new Uniform Addressing System is to help Marathon County emergency services provide the right service to the right place at the right time, according to a news release issued Monday.

In January, 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.

Marathon County is the largest county in the state geographically, with the county 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 personnel can lose precious time searching for an address due to confusing addresses or hard-to-read address signs, county officials say. 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, and odd and even numbers on the same side of the road.

Preston Vande Voort, Geographic Information Specialist with the Marathon County CPZ Department, explained:

“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.”

When the installation date nears, the CPZ Department will mail an official installation/delivery notice to residents, landowners, and business owners whose addresses will be changing. The official notice will provide the new six-digit address and an estimated date of sign installation and delivery.

After a new address sign is installed or delivered by contracted workers from Lange Enterprises, residents and businesses may begin to use and to notify others of their new address. Marathon County is partnering with the U.S. Postal Service to automatically forward any mail sent to former addresses for a period of one year from the date of sign installation and delivery.

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, the Marathon County Board voted 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. The Board 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.”

The Marathon County CPZ Department is committed to helping residents and businesses through this change. The department has created a dedicated Uniform Addressing website — www.MyMarathonCountyAddress.org — containing project updates, maps, checklists, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and downloadable Quick Reference Guides with helpful tips & tools for residents and businesses affected by this Uniform Addressing project. This information is all easily translated into Hmong or Spanish at the click of a button on the homepage.

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.

Businesses may be affected by this change either by having their own address change or by having many of their clients’/customers’ addresses change. Later in the year, the CPZ Department will provide a cross-reference table (available 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.

Dave Eckmann, President/CEO of the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce announced:

“The Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce will offer a pair of question-and-answer programs open to businesses impacted by this project. These hour-long events — to be held at the Chamber’s 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 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), Wien.

As of January 10, 2018, the 21 municipalities NOT participating in this Marathon County Uniform Addressing project include: Abbotsford, Athens, Birnamwood, Brokaw, Colby, Dorchester, Edgar, Fenwood, Hatley, Kronenwetter, Maine, Marathon City, Marshfield, Mosinee (city), Rib Mountain, Rothschild, Schofield, Spencer, Unity, Wausau (city), Weston (village).

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