WINFIELD -- Residents of Putnam County are beginning to receive letters with their new addresses, and they're not all happy about it.
The new addresses are part of a statewide mapping and addressing project that's been going on for a decade now. After years of legwork and compiling data, residents are just now getting new addresses that apply to everything from emergency services to U.S. mail to utility services.
Some addresses stayed the same, but more than 80 percent of the unincorporated parts of the county had to be changed.
When residents of Joy Lane and Cleveland Avenue in Culloden got their letters, they found every house number on the two streets had changed, although a third street in the subdivision, Lily Drive, got to keep its house numbers.
A group of them got together to attend Tuesday's county commission meeting to demand their old addresses back.
"Most of the folks on these streets are older folks, and this is going to be a huge inconvenience, a huge hassle for them to change passport, drivers license, right on down simply because you say there's no 'rhyme or reason' (to the old numbering)," one male resident said.
"I'm asking today that you change that," he said.
Emergency Services Director Frank Chapman was already scheduled to give an update to the commission on the addressing project to the commission.
The addressing and mapping project dates back to 2003 when Verizon donated $15 million for the project in lieu of giving a 25-cent refund to each customer as a result of billing errors.
The primary goal of the project is improving emergency services and is often referred to as "911 addressing," but the standardized addresses should also ease delivery for the U.S. Postal Service and private delivery services.
Putnam County completed its addressing with the help of a hired contractor at a cost of $70,000 more than three and a half years ago, Chapman said. The county sent its new addresses to the postal service and didn't hear back from them until about six months ago.
"The post office apparently sat on our data for well over three and a half years," Chapman said. "The problem that we had is the data they received is now well over three years old."
Residents in Buffalo, Culloden and Leon were the first to receive letters notifying them of their new addresses. The office of emergency management was beginning to troubleshoot those areas when the postal service sent out 7,000 more letters to residents in Fraizers Bottom, Liberty Given, Red House and Nitro.
Since then Chapman's office has been besieged with more than 1,000 phone calls. Office staffers have been working on returning the calls for two weeks.
Some residents, especially in Liberty and Red House, received letters that said they had a new address but they needed to call to get it.