Splitsville for folks in 315 land?

Billie Owens

Those who live in the 315 area code have sometimes been derided as  bumpkins. While many take reverse-snobbery pride in their 315 roots, those who find the tag less than endearing will have a chance to redefine themselves after the state splits up the area code.

Today’s 315ers could become tomorrow’s who knows what. The Public Service Commission announced last week that it’s beginning to evaluate options for making additional codes available in the 315 area, which serves all or part of 18 counties in northern and central New York.

The area code sweeps upstate from Macedon to Syracuse to Little Falls and north all the way to the Canadian border. Local communities, or portions of them, with a 315 prefix to their phone numbers include Geneva, Palmyra, Clifton Springs, Phelps, Potter and Farmington.

The announcement came three months after the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) advised the commission that 315 is running out of assignable telephone numbers. NANPA projects the numbers will be exhausted by the fall of 2010.

Before that happens, a plan needs to be developed and implemented in a way that minimizes disruption and inconvenience to customers. The lengthy process requires extensive research, consumer education and public involvement, including public hearings.

“It would certainly mean a lot of work as far as notifying people,” said Palmyra Village Mayor Vicky Daly. “We’d have to change (the area code) on signs, vehicles, business cards and stationery,” etc.

But hassle and expense aside, Daly said people will have “an opportunity to build a perceived reputation with whatever the Public Service Commission gives them,” she said. But she herself is OK with 315.

“We’re quite happy with who we are,” Daly said.

So is the bartender at the Lock 29 tavern, Kristina Henderson. She answered the establishment’s only line of communication, a public pay phone inside, and said she wasn’t really concerned about whether the area code gets changed or not. It’s not going to change anything, the 315ers (AKA 9ers, as in 3+1+5=9), are still going to be down to earth, “not fake,” she said.

She believes you can take a person out of the 315 area code, but you can’t take the 315 area code out of the person.

A patron at the bar chimed in on the early-afternoon conversation, saying being a 315er is better than being a redneck because it’s “pure hillbilly.”

Perennial Rochester radio personality Brother Wease of WCMF 96.5 and his cohorts have been known to poke fun at the 315 populace, for example, describing the Wallington fire department’s Bog and Grog event outside Sodus as “organized stupidity with a beer tent.” In general, Brother Wease characterizes the 315ers as simple folk with a good Christian raisin’ and up to an eighth-grade education.

Wayne County is ground zero for teasing about being in the 315 area code, a fact which the county historian, Peter K. Evans, has a theory about.

He said it all boils down to the green-eyed monster. Jealousy.

“I think it is perpetuated by a lot of envious people in the rest of the world,” Evans surmised. “It’s much older than Rochester. It remains a very prosperous farming area.”

“Drive out here,” he said. “You don’t see trailer parks. You see architectural richness. I think the whole 315 thing has a life of its own. Wayne County is not a bunch of know-nothing ignorant rednecks. It never was and never will be. It’s a myth.”

Daily Messenger