RICE COUNTY - The signs tell the story.
"They're faded and cracked," says Jeff Docken, Rick County Commissioner. "You have to be right up next to them to see it."
In the rural areas of the county, over 8,000 address signs need to be replaced. The numbers on the 25-year old signs have become too difficult for emergency responders to see.
"It's become a public safety issue," says Sheriff Troy Dunn. "Seconds are critical. If we can't see the numbers we won't be able to respond as quickly as we'd like."
Sheriff Dunn admits he's been on calls where "it was hard to find the home." While some signs are hard to read, others are out of sequential order or facing the wrong direction.
"The majority of signs are parallel with the road meaning you have to drive next to it in order to see it."
The new signs will be larger and more reflective.
"We need consistency," says the Sheriff.
Each sign will cost around $75 and it will be the homeowners that will foot the bill.
"You can't see them anymore," says Bob Broderick who has lived in rural Northfield for 70 years. "It's gotta be done."
State statutes allow for counties to require property owners to pay for address signs. Commissioner Docken says the opposition to the plan has been minimal.
Rice County hopes to begin the process of replacing each sign by next summer.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)