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Merchants protest highway name change

It was quite obvious from last night's public hearing on whether the city of Sunnyside should change the name of Yakima Valley Highway to Wine Country Road, that business owners along the road didn't want it done.

While only four business owners testified or submitted letters, they were all unified in opposing the name change and no one testified in favor of the change.

Royal Schlepp, owner of Sunnyside New Holland, Inc., said in a written statement given to the city council the change would create a lot of problems with changing stationary, envelopes, business cards, statements, invoices and a host of other pieces of literature. He said his business would also have to change the address with all of its state and other vendors. He said when his company moved to its current location four years ago all these problems were addressed and he doesn't want to go through it again.

"Besides, the name of the road is Yakima Valley Highway and has been that for a very long time," he wrote. "I feel you should just leave it the way it is as people from the other side of the mountain and other tourists already know the road by that name."

Dr. Navjot Khurana also submitted a letter to the council through Valley Medical Supply owner Doug Barnes.

Khurana wrote the change would cost his business thousands of dollars and would create a slowdown in the revenue received for months to come. He added his office would have to resubmit applications to all insurance companies to become providers all over again.

Jeff Smith, owner of Dominos Pizza, was also against the name change, citing the same reasons as the other businesses.

Barnes told the council his company just moved to its new location on Yakima Valley Highway earlier this year. He had to reapply with Medicare, Medicaid and all the other insurance companies and his reimbursements are still far behind. He said he wasn't sure his company could take the hit if he had to reapply again so soon.

He also pointed out there are no wineries on the highway and speaking tongue in cheek, told the council there were several tire stores along the way. "Why not name the street New Tires Road," he said. "Or Authentic Mexican Food Blvd., or maybe even Auto Glass Lane."

Councilman Bill Gant said it was his idea to look into the name change and thought it would be a good idea to join the mainstream on this idea and take advantage of the growing wine industry. He did admit that "progress hurts."

Sunnyside Mayor Ed Prulicik said there are a lot of businesses along the highway and there would be a considerable cost to business owners. His opinion was to leave the name alone.

It was then decided to form a committee with mayor pro-tem Jim Restucci, council members Theresa Hancock and Bruce Epps, along with the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and business owners to look into ways to implement the name change without hurting current businesses.

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