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Ceres is wrongfully addressed
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Imagine living in Riverbank and your mailing address is Oakdale. That would be confusing.

Or how would you feel living in Denair and your address is Turlock? Sonora if you're in Jamestown? Turlock if in Hilmar?

That would be wrong, you'd say - and you would be right for saying that. Why then is it acceptable that parts of Ceres have a Modesto mailing address?

It isn't acceptable and needs to be changed.

A little history is in order. Go back to the days when Ceres was a tiny little town and there was a rural gap between Ceres and Modesto. That area was called Modesto for mailing address purposes as was the miles wide belt surrounding Modesto. (To this day the Fruit Yard at Yosemite and Geer Road is still called "Modesto" when it's closer to Waterford or Empire.) Ceres, of course, grew into that rural land with houses and businesses. For the most part, the land between Hatch Road and the Tuolumne River was annexed to Ceres. Ceres city officials also made the area to the river the sphere of influence. There are still pockets of land which are still unincorporated, meaning that it's still in the county. But ultimately they will be annexed to Ceres. It's not a matter of if but when. This area will never be taken by Modesto, which makes it all the more ridiculous to keep the Modesto mailing address.

It's ridiculous that the mayor of Ceres lives in Ceres but yet has a Modesto mailing address. It's ridiculous that when anyone in that area calls for service, it's Ceres Police or Ceres Fire that responds, not Modesto, but has to write Modesto on their correspondence.

Having a Modesto mailing address means that postal patrons have to go to the Paradise station in Modesto to hold mail and pick up certified letters and packages.

This is a headache for many. The other day I was in line at the Ceres Post Office when I overheard the clerk tell a woman - who lives north of Hatch Road - that she had to go all the way to the Paradise post office to take care of her business.

It just doesn't make sense. It wastes time and gas and adds to frustration.

There is also the case of misdirected 911 calls from people who must explain that they live in Ceres when their address is Modesto.

Back on Feb. 12, 1993, we published a story I wrote about the dilemma. Then City Manager Gary Napper said that changing the zip code would "eliminate a lot of confusion for city residents who routinely call the city of Modesto for service. The Modesto zip code fools many into thinking they're Modesto residents when they're actually Ceres taxpayers."

Correcting this confusing dilemma is not as easy as calling the post office and having a correction made. When the feds are involved nothing is simple. The change can only occur by a vote of the affected postal patrons.

Let's revisit what happened. The city wanted to bring about the change since the 1980s. I understand there was a vote in the 1980s and that it failed.

In the early 1990s the city revisited the issue. They got Congressman Gary Condit to get involved. The U.S. Postal Service did an analysis and they recommended the change. In December 1992 U.S. postal officials said the change would save $10,455 annually in fuel costs. With today's fuel costs, imagine what the savings might be today.

I was covering the story at the time so I am familiar with the disaster that resulted. It seems a group of residents fought the change, offering all kinds of silly excuses, such as "we're going to have to change our stationery" and "it's going to cost us to change the recordation on our property." I honestly believe it was all about status since these people wanted to be identified with Modesto and not Ceres. The "old blood" in that part of the world resented that Ceres invaded their territory with growth and some old issues that is water under the bridge.

A group of businesses along South Ninth Street fought the zip code change and won approval to be opted out of the consideration area.

The September 1994 ballot was a disaster for the cause. Of the 2,374 ballots that went out, only 1,329 were returned. The proposed change went down in flames, 959 to 278, mostly because the "no change" crowd were feverishly energized.

One might wonder how much politicking the postmaster of 95351 may have played in the 1994 vote. You see, postmasters' salaries are based on the numbers of patrons they serve.

I found out that there are more areas of the city where a Modesto mailing address is wrongly applied.

The other day I stopped in at the McDonald's at Whitmore and Morgan. My receipt was printed, 1280 E. Whitmore Ave., Modesto CA 95358. Confused? So am I.

This commercial development was part of the Eastgate Master Plan approved by the city of Ceres in the 1990s. All city services are supplied by the city of Ceres. A Modesto mailing address?

While I'm at it, why do people in the Starlite subdivision in Keyes have Ceres mailing addresses? True. If their houses catch on fire, it's Keyes Fire that responds. Their children go to the Keyes School District. But they affix Ceres to their addresses on Wayne, Garbo, Hepburn and Gable? Not right either.

The Ceres City Council agrees it needs to change and is ramping up for another attempt to ask the post office to conduct an election.

I am no expert on the postal service and its rules. I'm thinking they have enough rules and regulations on the books to fill a library. But it seems like someone in Washington D.C. should consider a vital change: that once a city annexes land or amends its general plan to expand its sphere of influence, postal zip code designations should be updated if another town's name is attached.

How do you feel? Let him know at