Friday, April 29, 2011

Longest Rural Route in the Country: "Whatever it takes"

It’s a familiar scene, one that’s 22 years old. Rural Carrier Doug Kraft loads the mail at the Gridley, KS, Post Office and rides down the road in his red Dodge truck. It’s not long before blacktop fades to gravel and he arrives at the first of 258 mailboxes that he’ll see during his long workday.

No rural carrier in the U.S. covers more ground then Kraft. At 182.8 miles, his route is the longest in the nation. “Maybe that’s why my day is pretty full,” said Kraft. “I enjoy it, and I tell people that to me, Mondays are the same as Fridays.”

Former Gridley Postmaster Paula Raaf, who worked with Kraft for more than 20 years, praises his work. “He’s dependable and he cares for every customer,” she said.
No matter the challenge, Kraft delivers. “The mail always has gotten through,” he said. “I try to get it out even if it’s late or after dark. Whatever it takes.”

But it’s not always easy. Kraft says he got stuck in the snow more times last year than during any other period in his career. “Fortunately, I have a lot of good farm friends out there,” he said. “They’re willing to get in their tractors and help me out.”

Kraft understands his role in the success of the Postal Service. “I’m just interested in doing what I can do where I’m at, and being efficient and cost-effective,” he said. “The key is customer satisfaction — without that, we won’t make it.”

Care to comment?
 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Royal wedding and the Postal Service

Want a piece of the royal wedding cake, but can't get a replacement to cover your job while you fly to England?  You're in luck. The Postal Service is carrying three products with the Royal Wedding theme
The items are available at the Postal Store.

The Royal Wedding Digital Color Postmark Souvenir Cover, $4.95,  Click here

Commemorate the marriage of Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton with a limited-edition souvenir cover. This #10 envelope includes an affixed Wedding Roses Forever® stamp, two affixed The Royal Wedding stamps issued by Britain’s Royal Mail, and custom-designed color postmark.

The Wedding Roses stamp showcases a photograph, taken by Renée Comet, of two white roses gently resting atop a piece of wedding correspondence.

The Royal Wedding stamps feature two official engagement portraits of the Royal couple, taken by world-renowned photographer Mario Testino: a formal image of the pair photographed in the Council Chamber of St James's Palace and an informal image showing the couple embracing in the Palace's Cornwall room.

Created especially for the occasion, the Digital Color Postmark is rendered in the blue, red and white of the British flag, and includes the wedding date: April 29, 2011. A crown and furling banner suggest the long history and tradition of the British monarchy. Item #802065

The Royal Wedding Presentation Pack, $7.95, Click here.

Collect a piece of history with The Royal Wedding Presentation Pack! Britain’s Royal Mail is pleased to partner with the USPS to offer this beautifully illustrated brochure which includes a miniature sheet of The Royal Wedding stamps and features the story of how Prince William and Catherine Middleton met, complete with color photographs.

Issued by Royal Mail on April 21, 2011, The Royal Wedding miniature sheet includes two first class and two international stamps, with Prince William's coat of arms in the border. The stamp images feature two official engagement portraits of the Royal couple, taken by world-renowned photographer Mario Testino: a formal image of the pair photographed in the Council Chamber of St James's Palace and an informal image showing the couple embracing in the Palace's Cornwall room. Item #802074


The Royal Wedding Miniature Sheet, $5.95. Click here.

Celebrate The Royal Wedding of Prince William to Miss Catherine Middleton with the official commemorative stamps issued by Britain’s Royal Mail. Four stamps (two repeats of two designs) are printed within a miniature sheet displaying Prince William’s coat of arms.

The stamp images feature two official engagement portraits of the Royal couple, taken by world-renowned photographer Mario Testino: a formal image of the pair photographed in the Council Chamber of St James's Palace and an informal image showing the couple embracing in the Palace's Cornwall room. Item 802040

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Battle born

Mailbox photographed by Joseph Martin in Goodyear, AZ.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Your Postal Podcast - The Green Edition


 "Going Green" is the focus of this month's edition of Your Postal Podcast -- available now at http://yourpostalpodcast.com/.

In recognition of the newly-released "Go Green" postage stamps, listen to find out how the Postal Service is doing business in an environmentally-friendly way.

Also on this month's program, take a drive down memory lane as we recall some of the many vehicles USPS employees have used to deliver the mail. 

For a transcript of the latest program, please click here

While at http://yourpostalpodcast.com/, you can catch up on previous shows.  All of the podcasts can also be downloaded free at the iTunes store or via any other RSS feeder.

Please click here to share your comments and ideas for future editions, and thanks for listening.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What to do with unused prescription drugs

Nearly everyone has pill bottles with expired medication.

Throwing them down the drain threatens our water supply. Putting them in the trash means they might fall in the wrong hands. What should you do?

The Postal Service, in conjunction with the Veteran's Assocation, has a pilot program where veterans  (living in living in Baltimore, Washington, DC,and West Virginia)  mail back their unused meds? Here's the details if you are interested in the program.

This Saturday April 30, is National Drug Take-Back Day. From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., you can stop by your neighborhood collection site to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs safely.

Click here to find the collection site nearest you. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Savings: What have we done? What should we do?

Over the past several years, cost management has been central to USPS, achieving $9 billion in cost reductions.


The strategies to get these savings included:

 Reduced employee complement by more than 200,000.
 Negotiated back-to-back agreements with the National Association of Letter Carriers so we can quickly adjust carrier routes to reflect diminished volume.
 Froze salaries of all Postal Service officers and executives.
 Reduced staffing levels at postal headquarters, area and district offices by 15 percent two years ago, and then again this year by 20 percent.
 Sold unused and under-utilized postal facilities.
 Closed 77 Airport Mail Center facilities.
 Closed 10 Remote Encoding Centers.
 Closed nine processing and distribution centers.
 Adjusted Post Office hours to better reflect customer use.
 Consolidated mail processing operations across the board, including elimination of tours at many mail processing plants.
 Reduced Districts from 80 to 67.
 Eliminated the Southeast Area.

From where you sit, what else do you think can be done? Share your thoughts here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tax Day: Not like it used to be

Tax Day came, and went.

For many in the Postal Service, it was a day just like any other. Remember the good old days, with hordes crowded in our lobbies, frantic last-minute filers checking postmarks and the local police directing traffic?

Not so anymore.

Lately, however, Tax Day is just a regular day — no extra staff, no added hours and no large crowds for many offices.

Blame it on e-filing, which the IRS has been vigorously promoting. So far this year, 85 percent of tax returns were filed electronically, compared with 78 percent a year ago, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
 
What was it like in your office? Comment here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Postal Service receives EPA award

The Environmental Protection Agency presented the Western Area of the USPS with the EPA 2010 WasteWise Federal Partner of the Year Award.

The Western Area was recognized for saving more than $42.5 million through waste prevention and recycling initiatives, for recycling nearly 30,000 tons of material, for re-using 188 tons of electrical equipment, and for its many other green conservation programs.

Environmental Programs Specialist Jerry Jensen submitted the Area for the award.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Go Green gets a rousing reception at EPA

Denver Postmaster Mark Talbott (right) teamed up with Denver Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 Administrator Jim Martin in unveiling the new Go Green Stamps at a special ceremony April 14.

The unveiling event was held before hundreds of EPA employees and students in the atrium of the Denver EPA's Gold LEEDS environmental award building, which features many recyclable materials and a green roof.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Go Green Stamp released

The Postal Service just released the Go Green stamps. They are part of the series of stamps that highlight various  social awareness issues.

The stamps are designed by Eli Noyes.  They are purposefully whimsically and meant to be friendly -- not preachy, according to the Beyond the Perf.

View a slideshow of Noyes sketches for the Go Green stamps here. 

What do you think about the stamps?  Comment here.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm in the band

Letter carriers are visible on nearly every street in America. But it wasn't that long ago that they were also on the the streets for another reason: Marching bands.

According to an article by the Smithsonian Institute, there were as many as a dozen organized NALC bands by 1900.

The bands played at National Association of Letter Carrier events, weddings, picnics and union ralleys.

The bands had anywhere from 18-50 members and most had special uniforms.

Have you ever heard a postal band? Are there any still in existence? Comment here.  


Photo courtesy Smithsonian Institute, used with permission.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mail Call

There was a day when letter carriers didn't have mail receptacles to place mail. They would go door to door, knock and wait. Letter carriers waited for someone to answer their signal, and if no one was home, they took the mail back to the post office and tried again the next day. Carriers spent an average of two hours a day,  just waiting at the doorstep.

Some letter carriers chose to use wooden, dumbbell-shaped door knockers on their rounds. Convenient, lightweight and easy to grasp, the knocker saved wear and tear on hands and sounded a loud crack to announce the carrier’s arrival.

To save work hours, in 1916, the Post Office Department required residents to install mailboxes or letter slots.

Photo courtesy of Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tax day - April 18th this year

The IRS expects to receive approximately 142 million federal individual tax returns nationwide this year. Tax Day or last day to file 2010 federal tax forms, without requesting an extension from the IRS, is Monday, April 18, 2011.

Of the 142 million total 2010 federal tax returns IRS expects to receive this year, approximately 30% will be sent to the IRS via the mail; approximately 70% are expected to be filed electronically.

Using the above percentages, IRS expects to receive approximately 43 million federal tax returns by mail; and approximately 99 million federal tax returns electronically.

Most Americans do file their tax returns early, but approximately 30% of Americans on average wait until the last week, to file/mail or request an extension. This is because of owing money, being too busy beforehand, or simple procrastination.

Of the 142 million federal tax forms projected to be filed this year, approximately 77% of Americans are expected to receive a refund; 23% will most likely owe money, according to the IRS.

For tax assistance from the IRS, customers can toll the IRS toll-free hotline, 1-800-829-1040; or access the IRS web at www.irs.gov

Tax filers and mailers can also download the tax forms and schedules from www.irs.gov for FREE. Most Post Offices nationwide no longer provide tax forms in their lobbies.

The IRS offers printed forms and booklets at its IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers nationwide.

Most common mistakes Americans make in filing their paper tax returns, according to the IRS, are:
  • Social Security Numbers are wrong or left off.
  • Math errors.
  • Forgetting to attached forms and schedules, i.e., W-2’s, 1099’s, etc.
  • Forgetting to sign your form

Friday, April 8, 2011

Open for business

There's a possibly that our Federal government may be near a partial shutdown. Several agencies are working on their shutdown contingency plans.

But not us.

Do your customers know that the USPS will remain open? Why? Since the Postal Reorganization Act of 1971, the USPS has only taken appropriations for material for the blind and overseas voting. And that's it.

The only affect might be that we may not accept Passport applications.

Let them know we are proud of that! And let them know it's business as usual for us.

Care to comment?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Second job is a home run

Rob Potts has a pretty great job as Postmaster of Laurel, NJ.
But he's not complaining about his other gig.

Potts works as a batting practice pitcher for the the Philadelphia Phillies. When they are home and playing at night, he makes the 20-minute trek down to the stadium and throws pitches to the players so they can work on their swings.

He's been doing the work for four seasons now.

A batting practice pitcher doesn't throw the ball hard, but it does have to be of a consistent speed and placement.

The Phillies have a full-time batting practice pitcher, so Potts only works with the team during home games.

The players know his other job. "Sometimes, they'll ask about area to live in or where something is," he said. "But now it's just business as usual."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Everyone loves Smokey the Bear!


Aumsville Oregon Postmaster Ray Berg with Smokey the Bear at the State of Oregon Capitol Building to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Oregon Department of Forestry.

A special Pictorial Postmark will be available until April 23. To request a postmark, send a self-addressed-stamped-envelope to Centennial Station, Postmaster, P.O. Box 9998, Aumsville Oregon 97325-9998.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Postmaster loses everything in fire, but Postal Uniform Closet steps in

Alberta, MN, Postmaster Marlene Van Horn lost everything when her home burned to the ground.
But one bright spot was the Postal Uniform Closet, run by Sand Creek, WI, Postmaster Mary Mikula.
Mikula was able to gather enough retail uniforms in Van Horn's size and sent them off so Van Horn could be properly dressed for work..

The Postal Uniform Closet is the brainchild of Mikula. She takes unused and gently used postal uniforms and matches them to employees who are in need.

Mikula was featured at Your Postal Blog here.

It makes perfect sense, as uniformed employees often find their situations changing. They retire, get promoted, transfer or change crafts. They gain weight and they lose it.

And finding employees, like Van Horn, who are in need is especially gratifying to Mikula.

Van Horn wrote a note of thanks.

"I got your box of uniforms today. I think it's hard for a lot of people to comprehend when you say you lost everything just how devistating it can be. Everyone I talk to in the Postal Family who asks has been wonderful. It's nice to know that when they ask they really mean it. So again, THANK YOU!"

Got uniforms you can share? She'll take shoes, boots, hats, gloves, coats shirts and pants. The rules are few and simple. If you have an item that is clean and in good shape, send it. If you need an item, ask for it. The clothing items are available at no charge.


Send your items directly to: Postmaster Mary Mikula, PO Box 9998, Sand Creek, WI, 54765-9998

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mailing children

This city letter carrier posed for a photograph with a young boy in his mailbag. According to the Smithsonian Institute, at least two children were sent through the Postal Service after parcel post was introduced in 1913. With stamps attached to their clothing, the children rode with railway and city carriers to their destination.

After these two examples, word filtered up to the Postmaster General, who banned the shipment of ...people. 
  
What do you think?
Photo Courtesy Smithsonian Institute