Mason County News
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Postal Service Reductions - Killing the Golden Goose
In My Opinion...
Wednesday, January 18, 2012 • Posted January 18, 2012

I remember the post office at the Katemcy store. When I was growing up, we would go to the store every morning to get the mail (after 9:30 a.m.); or, if we didn't pick it up there, at 11:30 a.m. it would be delivered to our mailbox at the cattleguard.I loved picking up the mail down at the store. You could look through the glass front of the boxes and see if there was something waiting, then Swede Jordan would pass everything through the small window. If there was a package, he would carry it around and place it on the counter. All the oldtimers sitting around the stoves would sneak sly glances to see if anything interesting had come through the mail fro the Gamel family that day.When the Katemcy post office closed, it took some of the community's spirit away. The same happened with Streeter and Grit. And now, it appears that Art, Doss, and some of the other small post offices may be closed down. Without these centers of the community's social scene, I worry that many of our smallest towns may slowly fade back into the landscape.The closures are part of the problems, and the possible solutions, or our U. S. Postal Service. It's not a government agency and receives no taxpayer support, though it has enjoyed a monopoly on mail distribution for many years. Package delivery has slowly moved over to competitors such as UPS and FedEx, cutting into the most profitable aspects of their business. And electronic communication (faxes, emails and other high technology) has all but eliminated the most profitable aspects of the remaining mail pieces.I find that I'm surprised and elated when I get an actual letter anymore. Actual cards, letters and correspondence are now the rarity rather than the norm. Everyone has given up pen and paper for keyboard and electric current.At the newspaper, we continue to send more than 60% of our papers through the mail. Mason has only a few convenience stores and retail outlets where our papers can be sold, so most folks have their subscriptions mailed to their local post office boxes, or to their rural mailboxes. Every Wednesday morning, between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m., we deliver all of our papers to the Mason post office. They are bundled, bagged and tagged, according to postal regulations, to help speed up distribution and delivery.But, some people in Mason don't get their papers until Thursday. On rural routes, that can stretch into Friday. If you live in Fredericksburg or Llano, the paper often doesn't arrive until Saturday or Monday. For those living further away, the delivery times are often much worse. I regularly receive calls from subscribers who won't receive any papers for two weeks, and then will receive three papers at one time.Tracking the papers, we've discovered that many of our problems start when the mail arrives at the Abilene distribution center. It appears that the sacks containing our mail often sit, unattended, for days at a a time. There are guidelines for handling those sacks; but, it would appear they are loosely enforced or monitored.And now the post office is considering reducing even more staff. Though cutbacks at the local level appear further away, all of our mail goes through the large offices that will suffer reductions in staff. If delivery takes one to two weeks now, I can only shudder to think how bad it's going to get when those inefficient employees at the larger offices are trimmed back and made to do more work.I urge our subscribers to make their opinions known. Write to the post office. Write to your congressmen. Let them know that you want a post office that is better run, better managed and better regulated. There are so many things that move through the mail system that cannot be easily converted to digital technology, and we need to make sure there is an adequate postal system to handle those items.On a local level, use your local post offices as often as you can. Buy your stamps locally rather than online or through meters. Check out the parcel services and you'll discover the U. S. Post Office is still quite competitive. And let your local employees know you appreciate the work they are doing, even when their fellow employees working miles away make them look bad!

It’s all just my opinion.

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