Nov. 24, 2004 With a change in the route carrier for the U.S. Postal Service on St. John comes a big change in the service, Tiffany Gumbs said Wednesday.
Gumbs, who is in charge of postal operations on St. John, made her remarks at a meeting called by the Coral Bay Community Council. More than a dozen people attended the meeting held at the M&M Donkey Diner in Coral Bay.
She said that people who get their mail in boxes along the route will have to go to the Cruz Bay Post Office to pick up packages too large for their boxes. The previous route carrier, Tony Callwood, tracked people down to the ends of Coral Bay to make package deliveries.
"Tony was doing a lot of 'above and beyond,'" Gumbs said.
Coral Bay residents who opt for rural mail delivery now have to travel to Cruz Bay where parking is scarce, stand in line at the window and then go to the back of the post office to get their packages. The adjacent package trailer services only people who have mail boxes at the post office.
Coral Bay mail services such as Connections and Coral Bay Marine will continue to accept packages for their customers.
Callwood is ill and the Post Office has contracted with Noel Boynes and Henry Aston to take over the route.
Gumbs suggested that customers who don't want to make the trip to Cruz Bay to pick up their boxes pay a mail service to receive their boxes. Sandy Mohler, who owns Coral Bay Marine, said she now charges $2 to receive boxes for people without accounts.
"But I'm thinking about it going up," she said.
Numerous ideas for solving the package delivery problem were bandied about, but Gumbs said that package boxes placed near route mail boxes must be a Postal Service approved style. Boynes pointed out that residents often get packages that would be too large for any type of package box.
Gumbs said that Postal Service-issued route boxes will be replaced after Christmas with bigger boxes. This will allow small packages to fit in the boxes.
She said that while Callwood knew what boxes belonged to which residents, the new carriers face a learning curve.
She suggested that people put a slip of paper listing their name and address in their boxes so the new route carriers can find them.
There have been numerous glitches lately in deliveries at the post office and along carrier routes. Gumbs suggested that people with missing packages or mail call the post office so the staff can look for them. However, she said that all mail on hand had been put in boxes or package notices have been placed in mail boxes.
"And we are not returning anything to sender," she said.
To facilitate delivery, post office employee Al Smith suggested that residents pay extra for delivery confirmation to ensure their packages are delivered.
In true Coral Bay fashion, as Smith made his remarks, two dogs zipped under tables and around legs on their way to some adventure.
"Hire that dog," someone quipped.
Gumbs said she would personally write credit card companies to explain the Postal Service delivery problems for people who face hefty finance charges because their credit card bills arrived late.
In response to a question as to why the Postal Service stopped sending a postal van to Coral Bay so residents wouldn't have to trek to Cruz Bay, Gumbs said the van did not generate the $10,000 a month necessary to justify it.
Smith said that the Postal Service was unwilling to place a mail box in Coral Bay because in a previous try, people deposited beer bottles and chicken legs along with the mail.
Gumbs said that the post office is short-staffed. It normally has two window clerks on duty except during lunch when there is only one. She said three temporary workers are assigned to St. John to help during the Christmas season.
A new post office is in the works. The Postal Service has asked residents who want the Post Office to consider their property or building for the new post office to advise the Postal Service. Gumbs said the people involved with that decision will visit in December.
Gumbs suggested that people with complaints, questions or compliments call 1-800-ASK-USPS with their comments.
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