Dear All Knowing Answer Man, this is a question that needs a quick response, because the sooner we know, the sooner we can act, if needed. We're building a new home. We've been given our new house number from our general contractor. Is this number fixed and written in stone, or can we change the house number just a little? We would stay "between" the numbers of the houses we're between. Thanks. -- Dissatisfied with the House Number

This is an absolutely fascinating, if fussy, question. I pay no attention to my house number, though in my heart of hearts, I do have some fondness for a few of the many addresses I've lived at, compared with others -- I like the number "117" more than "141," for example. But I wouldn't think about trying to change it.

Still, to each his own, and I called around at City Hall and eventually found one of the "addressing kings," according to a planning department employee. His name is Randy Growden, and he's a Geographic Information Systems specialist, one of a few who's involved in determining addresses for new buildings. When a developer comes in with a plan for a new subdivision, he and his colleagues determine the rhyme and reason for street names and numbers, so all the paperwork can get moving.

Can you change your street number once it's set? Sure, for $140, the planning department will work with you to change it more to your liking. In fact, if you don't like your street name, you can circulate a petition; if you get a majority of property owners to go along with it, my understanding is that the city-county planning department will go along as well, though I'm sure there are caveats, including who gets to rename the street. And I doubt the city would go along with changing the name of Broadway to Answer Man Avenue, even if every single property owner wanted that.

The fee for that would be $1,125, though again, if it's a city-spanning street, I wonder how signage costs, etc., would be handled.

Randy says he gets about a half-dozen requests per year for a street number change, and they're generally for religious reasons. You can just imagine what those numbers might be.

If you want more details, call the planning department at 328-7100.

Rock on

A few weeks ago, I told about a big rock in a field just north of Brownsdale along Minnesota Highway 56. It's painted in dazzling green and yellow colors with the number 16 on it, and I told how it's apparently a blank canvas for Hayfield High School students, who give it a fresh dose of paint every so often.

I was hoping to mine more information on the rock, and Linda Wellik, an Answer Maniac who lives in Rochester, came through for me:

"Hi, Answer Man. I grew up on the farm where the rock is located, although during my high school years, we five kids were not allowed to paint the rock. But after we were all graduated (starting in the late '80's) the seniors and juniors of Hayfield High School would paint, in rivalry, their year of graduation on it. So it could get painted up to three or four times a year, sometimes. The colors are blue and gold. This last year they painted it yellow, then blue, which made it turn green. No patience. The 16 must be for that year of graduation, 2016. For a while it said "Jesus saves" or "Jesus loves you," and it didn't get painted for a long time.

"The kids must be getting younger that have started to paint it because 2016 is a ways away."

'Donation' to U.S. Treasury

I've written a few times about telephone troubles in some area towns, including Grand Meadow, and nationwide, due to an annoying problem described as "call completion." I won't go into the details, which frankly are boring, but there's news: The Federal Communications Commission has nailed one of the giant companies that's responsible for the problem.

According to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's office, the FCC has reached a settlement with a firm called Level 3 Communications that requires the company to meet "vigorous, verifiable call completion standards" and make what's called "a $975,000 voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury."

This is different from the type of contribution you make to the IRS every year, and while it doesn't seem like a lot of money for a big company, hopefully it's getting the industry's attention.

What's your reaction?

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