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.

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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