West Virginia floods disrupt postal operations, close post offices

SteveBlog

Charmco WV PO flood

Due to the severe flooding in West Virginia, postal operations and delivery in parts of the state have been disrupted. According to a service alert on USPS.com, postal officials are making efforts to get mail to plants for processing but the safety of employees is the primary concern.

Elkview, WV post office under water

Elkview, WV post office under water

The alert also states, “Customers may also to contact their local Post Office to determine the specific status of delivery and retail service for their region.  In addition, customers are encouraged to call 800-ASK USPS (800-275-8777) or go online at www.usps.com to access basic services and information.”

Contacting the local post office is not always easy, however. If you go to USPS.com to check on a post office, the phone number is always 800-ASK USPS. It takes some Googling to find the actual number for the post office.

Elkview WV postal truck in flood

USPS trucks under water in Elkview, WV

As indicated on the service disruption report, here are the post office that have been impacted by the flooding as of June 24, 2016, at 2 p.m. ET.

The following offices are inaccessible due to floodwaters:

  • Clendinin, 25045
  • Rupert, 25984
  • Charmco, 25958
  • Quinwood, 25981
  • Rainelle, 25962
  • Drennen, 26667
  • Nallen, 26680

The following offices have suspended operations due to a loss of power:

  • Amma, 25005
  • Rainelle, 25962
  • Clay, 25043
  • Richwood, 26261
  • Fenwick, 26202
  • White Sulfur Springs, 24986
  • Lewisburg, 24901
  • Caldwell, 24925
  • Camden on Gauley, 26208
  • Webster Springs, 26288

The following offices have suspended operations due to flooding of the facility:

  • Birch River, 26610
  • Elkview,  25071
  • Falling Rock, 25079
  • Procious, 25164
  • Walback, 25285

(Photo credits: Charmco, WV post office in flood; post office and postal trucks under water in Elkview, WV)

West Virginia Post Offices impacted by flooding

(photos courtesy of Post Mark Collectors Club, click on image for more info)

Charmco, WV
Charmco, WV, 25958
Elkview, WV post office

Elkview, WV, 25071

White Sulfur Springs
White Sulfur Springs, WV, 24986
Webster Springs
Webster Springs, WV, 26288
Clendinin

Clendenin, WV, 25045

Rainelle
Rainelle, WV, 25962
Rupert

Rupert, WV, 25984

Nallen

Nallen, WV, 26680

Quinwood

Quinwood, WV, 25981

Lewisburg

Lewisburg, WV, 24901

Procious

Procious, WV, 25164

Falling Rock

Falling Rock, WV, 25079

Fenwick

Fenwick, WV, 26202

Clay

Clay, WV, 25043

Caldwell

Caldwell, WV, 24925

Camden on Gauley

Camden-on-Gauley, WV, 26208

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Postal Service releases financial report for May 2016: Shipping services continue to surge

SteveBlog, Story

usps packages

The Postal Service posted its May 2016 financial report with the Postal Regulatory Commission today.

As usual, declines in First Class and Standard mail are more than offset by dramatic increases in the volume and revenue from package and shipping services.

And as usual, were it not for the obligated prepayments to the Retiree Healthcare Benefit Fund (RHBF), the Postal Service would be posting a profit — nearly $1.8 billion for the first eight months of the fiscal year.

Total operating revenues for May were up 0.3 percent over last May and up 3.3 percent compared to the same period last year, which covers the first eight months of the fiscal year.

Total volumes for May were down 1 percent from last May, and they’re down 0.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

Due to rising operating costs, the Postal Service posted a loss of $323 million for May in controllable operating income, which excludes the payments to the Retiree Healthcare Benefit Fund and a workers’ comp adjustment. With those two payments included, the Postal Service lost $628 million in May, as compared to $412 million last May.

For the year to date, the Postal Service has made a profit of $1.79 billion in controllable operating income, and a loss of $2.53 billion with the RHBF and workers comp payments included. That represents a slightly smaller net loss compared to last year’s $2.67 billion.

First class mail volumes in May were down 6 percent compared to last May, and revenues were down 8.1 percent. For year to date, things aren’t as bad. First class volumes are down 1.6 percent, and revenues are down 1.1 percent.

Standard mail volumes in May were up 2.7 percent compared to last May, and revenues were down 0.7 percent. For year to date, Standard mail volumes are down 0.2 percent, and revenues are up 0.4 percent.

Shipping & Package Services continue to make up for the losses in market dominant mail. For May, revenues were up 16.8 percent over last May, and for year to date, revenues are up 15.3 percent.

Compared to the same period last year, the number of career employees increased from 490,064 to 499,902 (a 2 percent increase), and noncareer employees increased from 130,634 to 136,275 (a 4.3 percent increase).  Workhours are up 2.9 percent for year to date as well.

The increase in the workforce and workhours no doubt reflect the extra work it takes to handle the increase in shipping and package services, and it explains much of the increase in labor costs, which, for year to date, are up about the same amount, 2.4 percent.

The May financial report is here.

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Multiple buyers want iconic downtown Post Office building in Topeka, KS

SteveBlog

Topeka PO

cjonliine.com: The historic Post Office building in downtown Topeka has stirred strong interest from buyers, even with a price tag of $1.65 million — but while speed may be of the essence in mail delivery, its process governing building sales is much slower.

“We’ve had high interest in the building and multiple offers on the building, which at this point in time have to remain confidential,” said Randy Goldsmith, senior real estate manager at CBRE Inc., of the building at 434 S. Kansas.  “This is a lengthy process. They do not have a timeline.” Goldsmith said the

USPS plans to maintain a presence downtown, and officials there are doing an analysis of their needs and the potential for downsizing before moving on with the sale process.  “They are going to remain in downtown, and they have interest, which all the people looking at this (property) are amenable to, of downsizing and staying in the building right there,” Goldsmith said….

On the building’s third floor is a space that must remain intact: the courtroom where the Brown v. Board of Education trial was conducted.  Goldsmith said all potential buyers understand that.  Read more.

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Post office relocation plans for Hendersonville, NC

SteveBlog

U.S. Post Office Hendersonville, NC

According to WLOS, the Postal Service is planning to close the main post office on Fifth Avenue in Hendersonville, N.C., and relocate retail services to a smaller facility.  A public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 7.

The Postal Service has been leasing the current location since 1966, which means the building is more than fifty years old and eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.  Apparently a lot of the sorting work that was done there has been moved to the larger Lakewood Road postal annex, which has been owned by the Postal Service since 1995.

According to the USPS facility report, the current lease on the main post office ends on Sept. 30, 2016, so presumably the Postal Service would like to relocate by then.  But it will first need to find a new location and prepare it for use as a post office.

Hendersonville PO streetviewPostal officials say that they want the new location to be as close as reasonably possible to the current site, which is in the center of town.  No news reports mention the possibility, but another alternative would be to relocate the post office to the annex.  It’s near a Walmart and Sam’s Club, but it’s pretty much on the outskirts of town and would not be very convenient for many people.  But since the Postal Service owns the annex, it would save money on the rent, and that’s exactly what the Postal Service has done in other places.

A public meeting will be held to explain the proposal and hear comments at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday, July 7, 2016, at the Council Chambers, City Hall, 145 5th Ave. East, in Hendersonville.

(Photo credit: Vintage postcard of the Hendersonville main post office; the post office today, Google Streetview.)

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The PRC’s Public Representative recommends changes for emergency suspensions

SteveBlog, Story

Climax GA PO

 

The Postal Regulatory Commission may take another look at the issues surrounding emergency suspensions of post offices.

The Commission’s Public Representative has filed extensive comments for the Commission’s 701 Report to Congress and the President.  This report provides an opportunity for the Commission and industry stakeholders to assess the effectiveness of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act and to make recommendations for improving postal law.

The Public Representative’s comments run to 73 pages and cover a wide range of topics, including the Postal Service’s financial situation, the rate system, market tests, and Negotiated Service Agreements.  The comments also contain a section about a subject that has been a recurring theme on Save the Post Office — emergency suspensions.

These suspensions have been the source of controversy and the object of criticism for many years.  Sometimes the reason cited  for the suspension by the Postal Service seems suspect.  Sometimes the suspensions go on for way too long without being resolved.  Plus, when individuals have filed an appeal over a suspension with the Commission, it has invariably been dismissed as outside the Commission’s jurisdiction because the statute governing post office discontuances — 39 USC 404(d) — does not mention suspensions.

The Commission has been aware of the problems with emergency suspensions for a long time.  In 2008, it instituted a public inquiry proceeding (Docket No. PI2010-1) to investigate them.

“That inquiry,” notes the Public Representative in his comments, “disclosed a relatively large number of emergency suspensions, some lasting decades, during which time no effort was made to make a formal closing determination as required by section 404(d).”

The Commission closed the public inquiry docket without taking action, but continued to monitor emergency suspensions.  Rather than diminishing, the number of suspensions continued to mount up.

Just a few weeks ago, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill called out the Postal Service for its use of “emergency suspension” authority to close down Missouri post offices, potentially circumventing the Postal Service’s standard discontinuance process.  “I am concerned,” wrote McCaskill in a letter to Postmaster General Megan Brennan, that “communities are being adversely affected without the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the decision-making process.”

The Public Representative has made several very useful recommendations for the 701 Report, which would go at least some way toward addressing the festering problems associated with suspensions.  Read More

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