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Friday, November 14, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Mayor's Call Splits Up Woodway -- Part Of Town In New Area Code

Seattle Times Snohomish County Bureau

Woodway Mayor Ross Wood is an unsung hero in Shoreline, but feelings are mixed around his own town, known for its expensive homes overlooking Puget Sound.

Single-handedly, Wood made the behind-the-scenes decision that allowed GTE to split his Snohomish County town of 400-plus homes between two area codes, saving Shoreline, just over the line in King County, from that fate.

It's too late to get mad: 10-digit local calling starts Sunday. And besides, Woodway residents have voted Wood out of office, without knowing about his role in the area-code confusion.

The decision on which community would be split by creating the 425 area code was made more than a year ago.

The southwest edge of Snohomish County in which a portion of Woodway sits and a northwest chunk of King County where a part of Shoreline lies are served by a single switching center. Either all 16,417 phone lines would remain in the 206 area code or all would be changed to 425. In whichever city was split, residents would be forced to use 10-digit calling to reach some numbers within their own community.

Shoreline city officials protested mightily because of the possible effect upon their city's businesses. The 975-resident town of Woodway has no commerce, so GTE approached Wood.

"He understood the dilemma that we were in and essentially blessed the plan," said GTE spokeswoman Melissa Barran. She said the only other Seattle-area city being split by the new codes is Des Moines, which is mostly 206 with a bit of 253 in its south end.

Wood, in turn, says Woodway is better off with the split code. City Hall lies in the town's south half, which is retaining its current 206 code.

"I was looking at the expense to the town," he said. "We would have to change stationery."

Wood and his wife, state Sen. Jeannette Wood, won't have to order new stationery either; their home lies on the 206 side of town.

But Wood's decision also affects thousands of phone customers just east of Woodway, in the southern tip of Edmonds and in the Firdale area, who also will keep the 206 area code. Beginning Sunday, they must use 10-digit calling for virtually all local numbers within their own county.

The Woodway Dental Clinic, a south Edmonds business that is keeping the 206 code, has been trying to educate its patients, who mostly live in the new 425 area.

"We're just kind of stuck here in this little corner," said receptionist Marilyn Lambrecht. "I keep asking our patients when they come in the door, `What's your area code?' They say, `The same as yours.' I think a lot of people are going to be confused."

Although south-end Woodway residents also will be stuck with 10-digit dialing to reach local Snohomish County numbers beyond their immediate neighborhood, Woodway folks in the 425 half aren't worried.

The two ends of town are separated by more than area codes; they also are split by a bridge that crosses Deer Park Reserve. That bridge is a symbolic border between the original Woodway, with its $400,000 to $600,000 homes on two-acre lots, and later, less-upscale additions to the city.

"It's not going to impact me. I can't think of anybody in the south Woodway area I call with any regularity," said Kathleen Trumball, a 20-year resident of the north end.

Diane Brooks' phone message number is 425-745-7802. Her e-mail address is: dbro-new@seatimes.com

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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