Residents and business owners oppose area code split

ST. MARYS – Thursday night, representatives from the telecommunications industry, as well as local businesses and government officials, met at Gunners Restaurant in St. Marys to discuss the implications of a proposed area code change for the region slated to take effect in the first quarter of 2015.Some area residents and business owners testified under oath before Administrative Law Judge Katherine Dunderdale and the assembled panel of industry representatives. Dunderdale said the purpose of the meeting was to hear from customers and that their testimony would be collected and presented to the state's Public Utility Commission (P.U.C.) for its consideration. On December 16, 2010, the P.U.C. approved a plan directing the 814 area code territory to be "geographically split" into two area codes. The "split line" would run along the eastern boundary of Jefferson County, through Clearfield and Elk counties, and end along the eastern boundary of McKean County. The area to the east of the dividing line, referred to as Area A, would retain the 814 area code. Area B, to the west of the line, would adopt a 582 area code. Those assembled Thursday night were unanimously opposed to a "geographic split" and in favor of a compromise in the form of an "overlay." An overlay would allow for those already with an 814 number to retain the area code, while all new numbers issued throughout the area would be assigned the 582 area code. Daniel Monagle, an attorney for Verizon, said he supports an overlay over a geographic split. "We have been consistently in favor of an overlay. An area code split creates winners and losers," Monagle said. Pick up a copy of the Friday, Sept. 2, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.