Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Postal Service changes mail deadlines

Consolidation of processing changes local mail service


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

John McDonald

Need that rent check postmarked by a certain date? Beware—after Oct. 1, Wood River Valley postal customers will need to get to the post office half an hour earlier to have their mail go out the same day.

Ketchum Postmaster John McDonald said the change is a result of a pending mail processing consolidation, which will mean all Blaine County mail will travel to Boise before being delivered.

McDonald said overnight delivery within the valley should still be maintained, but he cannot guarantee anything.

"There's a lot of things up in the air right now," he said in an interview on Monday.

The U.S. Postal Service announced last month that it would combine mail processing in Twin Falls and Boise. Brian Sperry, the service's regional spokesman, said the move would save $623,000 annually. Cutting costs is crucial, Sperry said, because the service lost $8.5 billion last year and is on track to lose another $8 billion this year.

All mail posted from Ketchum, Sun Valley, Hailey, Bellevue and 31 other towns is currently processed at the Twin Falls Post Office, even letters mailed from one Ketchum address to another.

After Oct. 1, mail from the valley will travel from the city post offices to Twin Falls, where it will be combined with mail from the Magic Valley and transported to Boise for processing.

McDonald said the extra travel should not cause delays.

"Due to the speed of the equipment in Boise, service should be maintained," he said. "[But] I'm going to wait and see."

The Sun Valley Post Office will accept mail in its outside mailbox until 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and will accept mail at the retail counter inside until 3:55 p.m.

Ketchum will accept mail in its outside box until 4 p.m. and until 4:15 p.m. inside. Hailey and Bellevue will accept mail in the outside boxes until 4:30 p.m. and until 5 p.m. inside.

"A minute later, and their mail will go out the next day," McDonald said.

He said the delay between outside and inside mail cutoff times is to allow post office employees time to bring in mail from outside boxes and combine it with indoor post for shipment.

All mail will be accepted at regular hours on Saturdays, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in Ketchum and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Hailey.

McDonald said the only delays in service would be caused by weather-related road closures or traffic accidents, which are risks for mail trucks all over the country.

"A lot of that are acts of God," he said. "We can't do anything about that."

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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