Number Them!
Off the Wall, September
21, 2012

I have no doubt a good many residents have seen me walking the streets of Latrobe particularly the top of the hill in and about the neighborhood. Well, the guy with the walking stick and the Amish hat is no other than yours truly who is making strides to get rid of Keith and Paulette, my two twins that have given others the appearance that I am eight months pregnant. Those fetuses have been not only hanging around much too long, but existing off the food I’m shoveling into that little opening called my mouth.

It’s amazing what can be seen along my route each day, most of which I have memorized, but then there are little things that have removed the peace I’m to be feeling. One is the absence of house numbers.

Back in Ohio, I was a member of the Galion Police Department. We were often called to residences that had not only no lights on, but more important, no house numbers. What I’m finding here in Latrobe is that there are no house numbers on some homes, and that is disturbing to me.

As I was taking my walk one day, a homeowner and her little toddler had just exited their home and was heading toward the sidewalk I guess to take a walk. I said good morning and then jumped right into the subject at hand.

“I see you don’t have a house number on your residence,” I said. She stated, “Oh, we painted over it recently.” Quickly I thought back when I was in Ohio and all the calls we made whereby no numbers were posted on houses, and it took that much longer to find those who needed help. It was discouraging then and certainly is now.

Complaints have been reported to me by drivers of Veteran’s Cab Co. I am told they are summoned to pick up individuals particularly at residences and the cabbies state that not only don’t people have house numbers, but they do not have the consideration to even put lights on to highlight the numbers in the evening. “It becomes very discouraging,” I was told by one driver, “but eventually we find the individual who called us for a ride.”

It goes without saying that I speak for the fire and police department as well as the emergency medical service employees. Having a number displayed or not may mean the difference between life and death.

I decided to contact Ann Powell, code enforcement zoning officer for the city of Latrobe to find out exactly what the code ruling is. According to #112-4, “The official number, as assigned to each building accord to the provisions of this chapter, shall be affixed to or painted or carved upon such building or upon a permanent standard, base or support between such building and the street on which such building fronts. Each digit shall be at least three (3) inches high, shall be of such color and material as to be visible from the street, and shall be constantly maintained in complete and legible form. The property owner shall reaffix or renew all digits and numbers that shall not continue to conform to the requirement of this section, provided that, in case of any building occupied by other than the owner thereof, the occupant rather than the owner shall be responsible for maintaining the official numbers after the same have been affixed upon such building as hereby required.”

Here is something to consider. “Any person or persons, firm or corporation who or which shall violate any of the provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than six hundred dollars ($600) and costs of prosecution, provided that each week’s continuance of violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall constitute a separate offense.

Legal talk is sometimes hard to understand. But when all is said and done, it’s clear to me, at least in my opinion, that letters have to be at least three inches tall and cared for so that at all times they can be seen from the street. Violating the code results in a fine. That kind of tells it all, lock, stock and barrel.

I noticed one building on Ligonier St. that has engraved in stone in front of its building, “1964.” By no means is it the building number, for the building number should be in the 1500’s. “1964” is located beyond S & H Electric somewhere. Since the owner may feel the sign is all that is needed, your conclusion is as good as mine what should be done.

Churches are notorious for doing the same type of thing. Are they going against the code? As it is written, it seems that way.

Here’s my take on this whole thing. Help the emergency crew and Veteran’s Cab employees and number your homes. The cheap expense may turn out to be priceless!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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