15 minutes

Ranson, WV, Letter Carrier Catherine “Catie” Arthur

USPS employees are often well-known figures in their communities, but some workers gained wider attention in 2018.

A video of a Hot Springs, AR, letter carrier went viral on social media after a homeowner shared footage from his security camera showing Steven “J.R.” Reynolds retrieving a flag that was blown off during a storm and placing it back on the house.

Several employees appeared on TV, including Lori Marcum, manager of Liberty Road Station in Lexington, KY, who received a makeover from the “Today” show; Catherine “Catie” Arthur, a letter carrier in Ranson, WV, who became a “Wheel of Fortune” contestant; and Margarett Chase, a letter carrier in Richmond, VA, whose three-legged goldendoodle dog competed in Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl XIV.”

Meanwhile, two employees were honored for their exploits on the basketball court.

Pearl Moore, a custodian at the Florence, SC, Post Office and a high school and college star athlete, had a community basketball center named in her honor, while Angela Scott, a Capitol Heights, MD, retail associate, was honored by the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame for her time in the Women’s Professional Basketball League.

Other employees received attention for their connections to famous people.

Pontiac, MI, Mail Handler Andra McKoy spent 22 years as a tambourine player for Aretha Franklin, who died in August.

McKoy said she’ll never forget the experience.

“I thank God for her,” she said.

Spring’s success

Letter Carrier Rita Colachagua

USPS employees continued to serve their communities throughout the spring.

In May, postal workers collected 71.6 million pounds of food for people in need during Stamp Out Hunger drive, an annual one-day campaign led by the National Association of Letter Carriers.

The Postal Service also participated in National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which is held each year to promote responsible pet ownership and educate employees on the importance of protective measures.

“Raising awareness will help us do our jobs safely,” Lisa Iseah, a Houston letter carrier, told reporters at a news conference.

The April 1-June 30 period was also a time to focus on innovation.

During the National Postal Forum in May, Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan discussed Informed Delivery and how it helps USPS make mail more valuable, accessible and predictable.

“Informed Delivery broadens the definition of the mail moment by bridging the digital and physical. It allows consumers to connect to their physical mail anytime, anywhere,” she said.

Other innovations highlighted during the year’s second quarter included Single Package Look-Up, a tool that simplifies the parcel location process, and 3-D printing, a method that USPS now uses to obtain spare parts for mail processing equipment.

Springtime also brought new stamps — including the first of this year’s two United States Air Mail stamps and a stamp honoring Sally Ride — as well as news that the Breast Cancer Research semipostal stamp helped fund a landmark study on efforts to fight the disease.

Coming next: Link’s four-part review of 2018 continues Dec. 27 with a look at summertime activities.

Best efforts

USPS employees delivered excellent customer service throughout 2018.

Carol Stream, IL, Postmaster Carrie Koutsogiannakis went the extra mile on a Friday night and tracked down a missing envelope for a customer who needed a document inside to begin a job the following Monday.

Meanwhile, almost two dozen Post Offices in Northeast Area’s Westchester District introduced We’re Listening Weekends, a program to strengthen customer service.

The offices held three-hour Saturday sessions where customers met managers and supervisors, offered feedback and learned about USPS products and services.

Several employees solved mail-related mysteries this year, including Lawana Smith and Calvin White, two workers at the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta who returned missing letters to a 98-year-old woman whose brother penned the notes during the 1940s.

Other sleuths included Administrative Assistant Rebecca Brundidge, who worked with her Portland, OR, colleagues to solve a mystery involving vintage postcards; and Custodian Thomas Caulfield, who found a World War II-era letter from a postal employee behind a filing cabinet at the Elgin, IL, Post Office and delivered the note to the man’s son.

Employees also helped customers obtain passports and file their taxes in 2018.

“Even though the volume is less, the customers still need our help,” said Melinda Mitchell, a mail handler who helped Tax Day customers in Detroit. “I like to do whatever I can to make mailing easier for the customers.”

Need to know

Scanning snapshot. The Postal Service’s national scanning rating was 97.30 percent during the week ending Dec. 21, up from one week earlier.

Dakotas (98.75 percent) topped the districts, while Great Lakes (97.82 percent) led the areas.

Scanning allows customers to track their packages and mail, and it helps USPS improve efficiency and network management.

To see the latest results, go to the Informed Visibility site and select “Customer Experience,” followed by “DES 2 Scan Performance.”

One more peek. The Peek into Peak LiteBlue page showcases Postal Service employees and their contributions to the organization’s holiday efforts.

The initiative is being promoted through Link, Postal Vision monitors inside USPS facilities, the tickertape scroll on ACE computers and the Lead to Win newsletter.

Got news for “Need to know”? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.