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Let's change to the Ceres zip now
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We just might see something happen this week that should have been done decades ago. We might see the area north of Hatch Road finally take on a Ceres zip code, years after most of the area was taken by the city of Ceres.

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.

The only people who can change it are the people living in that area. Ballots went out on Feb. 27 and they're due this Friday.

Let's review how this came about. Back when Ceres was a tiny little town and there was a rural county gap between Ceres and Modesto, which bore the Modesto mailing address. It was and is customary for the Modesto post offices to serve the wide rural belts surrounding Modesto. 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 unincorporated county islands, 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 Ceres Mayor Anthony Cannella lives in Ceres south of River Road 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.

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 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."

The change may only occur by a vote of the affected postal patrons.

In December 1992 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.

A group of residents fought the change, offering all kinds of silly excuses, such as "we're going to have to change our stationery." 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. 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.

Hopefully this mess will be eliminated on Friday. If the vote is a success, then the change will be enacted on July 1.

How do you feel? Let Jeff know at