Would someone please buy the post office a map

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Column by Jim Clark

When you drive west (or south) on State Road 200, after you cross County Road 484 and you head toward Hernando, you pass Florida Highlands and Spruce Creek Preserve in Marion County before you get to the river.

So ask yourself the question: What town am I in?

You might think you’re still in Ocala, but according to the U.S. Postal Service, you’re in Dunnellon.

That’s right. The city that is 12 miles west of SR 200 along CR 484 sprawls all the way down 200 … or at least that’s what the post office says.

I’m sure that the people who live down that way shop along State Road 200 in Ocala; they go to the doctor on State Road 200 in Ocala; they go to restaurants on State Road 200; they attend entertainment events on State Road 200 in Ocala and, yes, when they go to the post office, they probably go to the one off 60th Avenue.

But the post office says they live in Dunnellon.

I’m thinking that this came about many, many years ago when Ocala ended at around 27th Avenue. The rest of 200 was a two-lane road with farms on either side and no sign of retail, medical or recreational facilities. The nearest town to the intersection of 200 and 484 was Dunnellon, so that’s where the mail center for that area was.

But along came the pretty much uncontrolled growth along 200, all the way to that intersection and beyond. And, even later, came the new post office on 60th Avenue, built to serve this area.

But for some reason, the area south of 484 was still called Dunnellon.

I’m sure that, quite often, the people who live down that way have to explain to friends why their mailing address is in Dunnellon.

Just to make things a little more confusing, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office recently reorganized its district offices. The area south of 484 is now handled by deputies based in Marion Oaks.

I’m reasonably sure that these folks, if they have some business to transact, don’t drive all the way to Marion Oaks, when the Southwest District office is just a couple of miles up the road. The quality of deputies, I’m reasonably sure, is the same, but the distance they have to travel is not. At the same time, the Southwest office now covers all the way up into the northwest area. The comment was made at a recent town meeting with county commissioners that the meeting, while attended by the commander of the closest sheriff’s office, was actually in the Southwest District, all the way up within viewing distance of U.S. Highway 27.

All this is enough to make a geography buff’s head spin.

So the next time somebody tells you they live off State Road 200 in Dunnellon, don’t look at them like they’re a little strange. The strange ones here are actually the postal authorities who make these decisions, and maybe they ought to look at a map once in a while.


Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen.