Summer’s service

Postal Inspector Steve Cohen checks out the basement at the Red Springs, NC, Post Office

USPS focused on serving customers throughout the year, including the summer months.

Employees helped customers rebound from Hurricane Florence, which tore a path of destruction through North Carolina, South Carolina and other states in mid-September.

Additionally, the Postal Service continued to strengthen relationships with business customers.

During National Postal Customer Council Week, Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan highlighted Informed Delivery, Informed Visibility and other innovations that make mail more valuable to businesses and customers.

“Mail is an incredibly powerful marketing channel, and we’re giving it new capabilities,” she said.

The focus on customers received applause from Ryan Cooper, national correspondent for The Week newsmagazine, who wrote a column praising USPS for delivering “fast and efficient service” despite the significant challenges facing the organization.

“USPS really does keep the American nation putting one foot in front of the other,” Cooper wrote.

The year’s third quarter also featured the election of Robert M. Duncan and David C. Williams as chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the USPS Board of Governors.

Meanwhile, the Postal Service marked a milestone when its lead programs, which encourage employees to provide USPS with tips on potential business opportunities, reached $7 billion in new revenue.

Other highlights during the July 1-Sept. 30 period included this year’s Postal Pulse survey results, which showed the percentage of USPS employees who feel “engaged” climbed 8 points since 2015, and the release of several stamps, including a Music Icons stamp honoring John Lennon.

Coming next: Link’s four-part review of 2018 concludes Dec. 28 with a look at autumn activities.

Long time coming

Samuel J. Mitchell

Postal Service employees marked significant milestones in 2018.

Ninety-one-year-old Los Angeles Processing and Distribution Center Mail Handler Willie Clemmons celebrated 68 years as a postal employee.

Two other Los Angeles District employees — Leroy Brown, a Los Angeles International Service Center clerk, and Willie Campbell Jr., a maintenance supervisor at the Los Angeles Processing and Distribution Center — marked 63 and 61 years, respectively, with the Postal Service.

Alfonzo Wilson Jr., an 80-year-old Cleveland letter carrier, celebrated 60 years on the job, while John Moore of Martinton, IL, marked 55 years as the last rural carrier whose salary is based on the number of miles he drives.

Stan Coburn, a retail associate at Northwood Station in Fort Wayne, IN, marked 50 years of postal employment, and the city celebrated by declaring Feb. 6 Stan Coburn Day.

Elsewhere, Philo, OH, Postmaster Samuel J. Mitchell made history when, after a 52-year career, he retired as the last Postmaster appointed by a president.

James Balluff also marked the end of an era when he retired as the Elmhurst, IL, Post Office’s last “special delivery messenger.”

Meanwhile, Superior, MT, Post Office Rural Carrier Frances Higgs’ retirement after almost 40 years delivering mail on her route was bittersweet.

“It was the best I’ve ever had,” the 80-year-old said.

Connecting lives

Indianapolis resident Jerry Kennedy

Mail continued to bring people together this year.

Two women who are both 60 and live about 1,300 miles apart got together in 2018 after sustaining a 50-year relationship almost entirely through letters.

“There’s not too many people who have a pen pal for so many years,” one of the women said.

It was also a big year for postcards and greeting cards: a Maine restaurant began requiring customers to request reservations via postcard; two dads — one in Washington the other in Georgia — each sent daily postcards to their children to stay in touch; and an Indiana man continued his longtime tradition of mailing handmade St. Patrick’s Day cards.

Technology also helped connect people through the mail.

Singer John Mayer went on Instagram to invite people to send him typewritten letters, while up-and-coming musician Lauren Sanderson used social media to encourage her fans to put pen to paper and mail her handwritten notes.

Elsewhere, a Cleveland woman created an Instagram account to celebrate people who love letters, while a Seattle man blogged about visiting more than 340 mailboxes in his city.

Meanwhile, once word went viral on social media that a World War II veteran in Montrose, MI, was about to celebrate his 100th birthday, well-wishers flooded his mailbox with thousands of mailpieces.

“We have to take a truck to the Post Office to pick up the mail,” his thrilled daughter said.

News quiz

Postal Service employee interviewed for story on dog bites

This week’s supersized “News quiz” has 10 questions about Link stories that were published in 2018. The correct answers appear at the end.

1. Which Celebrating Lunar New Year stamp was released this year?
a) Year of the Dog
b) Year of the Monkey
c) Year of the Ram
d) Year of the Rooster

2. True or false: The price of a First-Class Mail Forever stamp increased this year from 49 cents to 50 cents.
a) True
b) False

3. Who appointed Samuel J. Mitchell, who the last presidentially appointed Postmaster, to his job managing the Philo, OH, Post Office?
a) President John F. Kennedy
b) President Lyndon B. Johnson
c) President Richard M. Nixon
d) President Gerald R. Ford

4. In April, USPS released its list of places with the most dog attacks against employees. Which city topped the list?
a) Cleveland
b) Houston
c) Los Angeles
d) San Diego

5. Who was the subject of Link’s first “On the job” profile?
a) San Diego Mechanic Fidel Aguliar
b) Washington, DC, Letter Carrier Michael Bryant
c) Honolulu Ramp Clerk Loreto Garo
d) Detroit Maintenance Mechanic Anthony Lattimer

6. What was the theme of this year’s National Postal Forum?
a) “Growing Together”
b) “Informed Customers”
c) “Make Informed Connections”
d) “Tune Into Success”

7. Which National Association of Letter Carriers branch collected the most food during this year’s Stamp Out Hunger drive?
a) Los Angeles, Branch 24
b) Oklahoma City, Branch 458
c) San Juan, PR, Branch 869
d) South Florida, Branch 1071

8. Which employees shared this year’s National Hero of the Year Award from the National Association of Letter Carriers?
a) Tampa, FL, Letter Carrier Jason Moss
b) Fort Lauderdale, FL, Letter Carrier John Sylvain
c) Sterling Heights, MI, Letter Carrier Naseem Elias
d) West Bloomfield, MI, Letter Carrier Brandon Franklin

9. Fill in the blanks: During the fiscal year-end financial report that USPS released in November, the organization reported First-Class Mail volume was (blank) pieces, while package volume reached (blank) pieces.
a) 1.5 billion, 10.1 billion
b) 3.6 billion, 6.8 billion
c) 56.7 billion, 6.1 billion
d) 70.6 billion, 21.5 billion

10. Match the stamp in Column A with the dedication ceremony guest speaker in Column B.
Column A
a)The Art of Magic
b) Black Heritage: Lena Horne
c) Sally Ride
d) Scooby-Doo!

Column B
I) David Copperfield
II) Billie Jean King
III) Scooby-Doo
IV) Dionne Warwick

Answers: 1) a. 2) a. 3) b. 4) b. 5) d. 6) b. 7) a. 8) a. and b. 9) c. 10) a. I., b. IV., c. II., d. III.

Look for a new quiz next week and share your feedback with Link at