Texas has two Renos, and that’s no longer funny.
Misdelivered mail is stacking up. Callers are dialing the wrong number. Worst of all, fire or medical emergency calls are going to the wrong Reno 911.
So after 140 years, leaders in the Parker County town of Reno might change its name, maybe to Reno Springs.
In a larger town named Reno 160 miles away in northeast Texas, Mayor Bart Jetton answered a reporter’s phone call the way he has answered hundreds of calls from the 817 area code.
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“I hate to interrupt you,” he said wearily, “but — are you trying to reach the Reno in Parker County?”
His staff gets calls every day looking for the other Reno, “more and more as they’re growing,” Jetton said.
“Nobody can get through on the phone to that Reno in Parker County. So they call us for help. We get their hateful phone calls and stuff.”
In the Parker County town of Reno, Police Chief Tim Holzschuh said it’s not just a matter of wrong numbers.
“We had a report of a suicidal person from a relative calling long-distance,” he said.
“It took a while for the officer on duty to deduce that it was the Reno in Lamar County. Those moments can make a difference.”
Cellphones, Google and Siri aren’t helping.
“I keep their police chief’s phone number on my desktop,” Holzschuh said.
His northeast Texas counterpart, Reno Police Chief Jeremy Massey, said, “We feel each other’s pain.”
He has a dangerous-misdial story, too.
“I’ve had a call about somebody driving down the road shooting a weapon. We finally figured out it was the other Reno.”
His dispatchers ask callers from the 817 area code, “Do you want Parker County?”
“We get a lot of confusion from state agencies,” Massey said.
“And the district attorney’s office from Tarrant County calls asking about court cases. They don’t seem to know how to reach the other Reno either.”
Not to mention Reno, Nevada, or El Reno, Oklahoma.
Before ZIP codes, federal regulations prohibited two post offices from having the same name. The Parker County town had a post office in 1884, but lost it.
In 1996, the U.S. Postal Service tried to award the address “Reno, Texas” solely to the Parker County town for its larger projected population. But postal officials relented when then-U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office intervened.
According to U.S. Census estimates, the Lamar County town of Reno has 3,300. The local Reno, which bridges Parker and Tarrant counties north of Azle, has 2,907 but is growing faster. (The Parker County town also legally incorporated first, in 1966.)
Mayor Pro Tem John Basham suggested the name Reno Springs, according to the Azle News.
The original Reno Springs fed the town cotton gin along Walnut Creek just south of today’s city hall and Walnut Creek Baptist Church. according to late Fort Worth geologist Gunnar Brune’s book “Springs of Texas.”
(Other springs nearby gave a neighboring town its name: Springtown.)
City name changes are not unusual. In 1999, a growing Wise County town changed its name to New Fairview to distinguish from a Fairview in Collin County.
Our Reno can’t be New Reno. It’s the oldest Reno.