Commissioners correct road's misspelling

Robert Houk • Aug 28, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Washington County Commission voted Monday to correct the spelling of one of the county’s oldest roads to prevent possible confusion by emergency responders.

Commissioners changed Brethern Church Road, which is how it has appeared on the maps since 1850, to Brethren Church Road. They also agreed to change the numerical addresses of residents on the road in the block range of 100-871 to 1000-3399.

The change is to avoid duplication with the similarly named Brethren Church Drive, which is located off Old Embreeville Road, and is also inside the Jonesborough postal district.

Officials with Washington County 911 Emergency Communications District had asked commissioners to change the name of Brethern Church Road near Shadden Road to Brethren Church Valley. Lesley Musick, the GIS coordinator for 911, said the road’s misspelling, along with its current addresses that are being duplicated on Brethren Church Drive, can be confusing for both 911 dispatchers and area residents.

She played commissioners a 911 recording of a resident who spelled “Brethren” correctly instead of using the misspelling that appears on maps for the road. She said the minutes it takes to clear up such confusion over the road’s name can prove to be costly in an emergency.

“With new technology we have to be more accurate in our mapping,” Musick said.

That was much easier to do with landlines. Musick said cell phones are often bounced off cell towers. which sometimes make it more difficult for dispatchers to immediately identify the location of the caller.

Musick said 911 is working to eliminate the duplication of street and road names in Washington County. She said the emergency communications district has the  power to renumber addresses, but only the County Commission has the power to change road names.

Commissioner Mike Ford said residents in the Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren community did not like the proposed new name. One resident, Freddie Jones, told commissioners Monday that “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

“It’s more than just a name,” said Ford, who represents the community on the commission. “It’s the identity of Pleasant Valley. We don’t accept change too well.”

Ford offered a compromise Monday that he told his colleagues would preserve the history of the community without sacrificing the safety of its residents. Commissioners agreed, and voted 14-0-1 to correct the spelling of the current road name and change the numerical addresses of the 68 property owners in the area to four digits.

Commission Chairman Greg Matherly, who is the 911 director, abstained from voting on the motion.

“I’ve served three terms on the commission, and this was one of the hardest issues I’ve had to reach a compromise on,” Ford.

Musick said it is a “workable compromise,” and noted that it should help clear up much of the confusion for emergency responders. 

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