Mail Delivery: The changes don't look good 2013.02.13

Written by David Green.

The vast majority of Observer readers prefer newsprint over the digital version of the paper. The majority of those newsprint readers live in an area of fast mail delivery where their paper arrives on Wednesday and in a few cases Thursday.

For the rest of you, there's bad news on the horizon. Actually, some bad news may have already begun.

We're sure you've heard the news that Saturday mail delivery is scheduled to cease in August. Those of you who generally receive your Observer on Saturday will have to wait until Monday. Those of who find a paper in their mailbox the following week will soon have to add yet another day as the mail wends its way to your house.

The U.S. Postal Service aims to continue Saturday delivery of packages, but the value of other mailed items is shrinking. Our costs to mail the paper continue to rise as the Postal Service raises prices sometimes more than once a year. We will soon lose a day of service, but will our mailing prices decrease? Of course not.

The so-called "snail mail" offered by the Postal Service has taken a heavy blow through the growth of electronic communication, but a 2006 decision by Congress accounts for about 70 percent of the Postal Service's financial woes. The agency is the only one overseen by Congress that was required to pre-pay employee benefits to such a far-reaching extent. The Postal Service was given 10 years to cover benefits for the next 75 years—for employees not even yet hired.

We're not suggesting that everything in the postal system is run efficiently—far from it—but it's no surprise that financial troubles would arise from Congress's mandate.

We mentioned earlier that another delivery problem might already be underway. A significant change was made last month that re-routes mail to a large facility in Detroit for initial sorting. Until last week, we sent a bag of papers for the west side of the state to Grand Rapids for sorting. Another bag covered the east side of the state and another was separated for a portion of Florida.

Now it all goes straight to Detroit in one container. That might be good, but our guess is that further delays are ahead. Big is not always better, and we wonder if there will be more of an opportunity for bags of newspapers to remain off to the side waiting their turn to enter the mail stream.

It seems that the Postal Service is only hurting itself further with each big change that it makes.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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