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Indiana Deals With Patchwork of Time Zones

March 31, 1990

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ In Indiana, where time zones can divide a town, many people keep two reckonings of the hour to cope with living in a ″time warp.″

Hoosiers say the state’s three time zones wreak havoc on business and family life. At no time does the entire state follow the same clock, creating timekeeping headaches from urban centers to country hamlets.

People live in one zone and work in another, children cross time lines to and from school, prime time programming for televison is complicated and meetings can be disrupted by delays, latecomers and no-shows.

One of three states exempted from the national time change - the others are Hawaii and Arizona - Indiana is the only one with fragmented zones. A large portion is permanently on Eastern Standard Time, while the rest observes either Central time or Eastern time and changes twice a year like the other 47 states.

″Indiana has the most complex time observance of any place in the United States,″ said Joanne Petrie, an attorney for the U.S. Department of Transportation, the agency in charge of setting time zones.

Mayor John Ford of Union City, which is divided down the middle by the Indiana-Ohio line, calls Sunday’s change to daylight-saving time a ″time warp.″

He said most residents of the portion of Union City in Indiana will experience the anxiety of being an hour late for something as those on the Ohio side of the line spring ahead. ″But they’ll make it up by being an hour early for something else,″ he said.

″The majority of people live the way it suits them, and in a lot of places that involves keeping two different times in the same househould,″ he said.

Seventy-six of Indiana’s 92 counties - including Randolph County, in which Union City, Ind., is located - remain on Eastern Standard Time as everyone else resets their clocks on Sunday.

Eleven other counties observe Central time and, on schedule, switch from CST to CDT as of Sunday - meaning that for the next five months, their clocks will look just like the EST counties’ clocks. Five other counties that are close to Louisville or Cincinnati traditionally observe Eastern time to remain in step with those cities, switching as of Sunday to EDT.

Indiana’s time zones are a compromise following years of local and national debate. Officials say it’s probably the best that can be expected, though far from perfect.

Prior to 1961, the Indiana-Ohio line also divided the Central and Eastern time zones. The line was later shifted to bisect the state and then re-shifted to create current time boundaries.

″There’s some sort of truce right now,″ said Chuck Coffee, a speechwriter for Lt. Gov. Frank O’Bannon. ″It was much different when the population was dependent on rail service and waited as trains came to town,″ he said.

Indiana balks at joining with the rest of the Eastern time zone in observing daylight saving time, officials say, because it lies on the western edge of the zone and already has a relatively late sunrise. Daylight saving time would exacerbate that, much to the displeasure of farmers who relish the early daylight hours for field work.

Simply going on Central time is opposed by many others who feel Indiana is more attuned to New York and eastern cities and changing would put it out of step the entire year.

″Why would someone think that they are traveling within the same state and the time’s going to change?″ said Carolyn McClintock, Vanderburgh County commissioner.

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