Area codes under fire

RIDGWAY – Possible changes to the local telephone area code system were the focal point of discussions Tuesday during an Elk County Board of Commissioners meeting.John Balliet, director of Taxpayers United for Representation Now [TURN] from DuBois, discussed the proposed new 582 area code being suggested by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission [PUC]."The 582 area code would affect everybody in the area," Balliet said. "Just the general history, in early January when we found out the imposition of a new area code, and being split along geographic lines, we raised concerns because we didn't feel it was a wise decision to split it up, especially in Clearfield County. "We have a slightly different issue there where we feel that because of the way we do business in this area, please include Clearfield, Jefferson and Elk [counties] because of our interactions throughout the three counties-- it's more of a regional approach than a county approach."Over the years, there has been a reported drop in landlines across the United States."In the country, it's almost 25 percent and 24 percent within our state of homes that no longer have landlines in them," Balliet said. "The pressure on the 814 area code actually comes from the cell phone usage. "Now allegedly, there is a 12-year-old ruling from the SEC that can stop you from just imposing the new area code on cell phones only. Our position had been cell phones only, but we didn't clarify that we didn't mean existing cell phones, we mean the new pressures."With business practices differing in today's world as opposed to decades ago, Balliet indicated Tuesday that the imposition of a new area code split along geographical lines could have adverse effects.