Mail causing paper delays

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Your copy of the Republic-Times may be arriving a little later than normal as the United States Postal Service is seeing an abnormally large number of packages in its system. 

The National Newspaper Association reported last week that newspapers across the country are seeing delays in their papers being shipped due to delays caused, mostly, by the packagespartially, the pandemic. 

“We want publishers to understand that these delays are not just in their markets, nor the result of failures by printers or mail preparers,” NNA Chair Brett Wesner said. “We are in continuous conversation with the senior management at USPS about this problem.”

The Republic-Times is no exception, as we use the postal service to send our paper to our thousands of valued subscribers. 

“The Republic-Times has relied on the U.S. Postal Service for years to bring our weekly edition to our readers. Mail service to most of our Monroe County readers is exceptional,” R-T General Manager Kermit Constantine said. “We deliver the paper every Wednesday to the Columbia and Waterloo post offices, and they deliver it to you on Thursday.”

Those more likely to have problems with on-time delivery are individuals who live in Hecker, Red Bud, Millstadt, Cahokia and other towns outside the county, as Constantine said those subscribers “have suffered major delivery delays, editions destroyed or editions lost forever in the postal system.”

“These delays start with the St. Louis Post Office,” Constantine explained. “Newspaper subscribers who live outside of Monroe County — including Hecker — and outside the state must go through the main St Louis facility. This is a postal rule, not ours. We’ve tried everything in our power, but in this case the squeaky wheel has not gotten greased.”

According to the NNA, the Postal Service expected to deliver roughly 20 million packages a day during the holiday season, but that number has exceeded 40 million some days, per the USPS. 

Mail processing plants and local post offices are challenged to keep up with the volume.

“This is particularly an issue for rural areas, where less dense deliveries are unprofitable for the private services but a required service for USPS. Unfortunately, that pushes a glut of package volume into the areas where many of our newspapers are also trying to reach subscribers,” Wesner said.

The most common reason given for the problems at the St. Louis Post Office is a manpower shortage, so it may be susceptible to some of these delays. 

Constantine expressed frustration with the problems while showing gratitude to subscribers. 

“We lose subscribers because of their weaknesses, and every couple years they raise their rates without an improvement in service,” Constantine said. “Thank you for listening to our side of the story, and thank you for staying with us and supporting community journalism.” 

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