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Says Documentation Proves Service Getting Better
BY SUSAN USHER
Shallotte Postmaster Frank Brin
goli takes it personally when he
hears customers complain that local
post office service has gotten worse
since his arrival in January.
"We know better and we have the
documentation to prove it," he says.
"The mail is up earlier, it is deliv
ered earlier and we are delivering
more mail earlier than ever before."
Bringoli says the latest first class
and priority mail goes into post of
fice boxes is 11 a.m., and that's only
after a holiday. Otherwise it's usual
ly up by 10 a.m. unless there's a de
lay beyond the local staff's con
trol ? such as a late-arriving mail
Sorting continues throughout the
day, with parcels up next, then final
ly third class mail.
"If they come into the post office
at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and
hear somebody sorting mail in back,
that's what they're sorting ? bulk
business mail. It's not first class
mail they're working on."
"I'm tired of reading about people
getting their pension checks two or
three days late since this (South
Brunswick) office opened. It's sim
ply not true."
Bringoli says ? with clerks like
Kathleen Henderson Heath nodding
her head in concurrence ? that this
wasn't always the case prior to his
arrival, that first class mail was sel
dom up until mid-afternoon. If first
class mail was in the box at 9 a.m., it
was typically mail from the previous
day, he said.
Mail put in the "local" slot before
8 a.m. in the Shallotte post office
should be delivered that same day in
STAFF PHOTOS BY SUSAN USHE?
TWELVE to 15 customer vehicles parked outside the Shallotte Post Office (in photo at left) on Main Street around 11:30 a.m. Friday, compared to three vehicles parked the
same time of day in the much larger parking lot at the South Brunswick Station (at right).
Shallotte. he said. Mail put in (he
"local" box at South Brunswick as
late as 9 a.m. to 9:30 a. in. should be
delivered to customers in the
Calabash to Shallotte area that same
"Nine thirty, while the carriers are
still there, is usually the last time we
go through that box." said Bringoli.
Then carriers are out the door to
begin their rounds, generally due
back at South Brunswick Station by
While staff size hasn't changed
proportionally, the volume of mail
handled by Shallotte 's four regular
clerks, four flex clerks and 10 carri
ers "just keeps going up," the post
"They have us staffed for au
tomation. They're saying we'll have
automation in 1995, but I'm looking
at 1996. ..and this is 1993."
He's hoping the office will quali
fy for more help, but there's no
guarantee. This particular day
Howard Shelton, an Origin
Destination Information System data
collector based in Wilmington, is
checking one subgroup of mail for
volume, timely deliver and class of
"It helps to determine the number
of trucks, personnel, etc., they
need," said Shelton. who makes
similar checks at post offices
throughout the area.
Meanwhile, business is up.
For the year ending in early
September 1992, volume was up 23
percent over the prior year. Since the
start of the new postal fiscal year on
Sept. 7, Bringoli said mail volume is
up 26 percent from the same period
a year ago.
While all 2,277 post office boxes
at the Shallotte office are rented, on
ly 800 to 900 of the 3.000 boxes at
South Brunswick station have been
rented so far.
Route carriers drop off mail for
box service at two other locations
under the Shallotte Post Office's ad
ministration ? Calabash, where all
968 boxes are rented, and Ocean Isle
Beach, where approximately half of
the 288 boxes are taken.
Clerks at the Shallotte office
bring in an average of $3,000 a day
"walk-in" or counter revenue (this
doesn't reflect the face value, but the
post office revenue from money or
ders), while the South Brunswick
Station typically brings in $1,700 a
day. The two together handle about
5300,000 cash in a weekly account
Timing may account in part for
customers' perceptions of a recent
decline in quality of service.
Bringoli's arrival was followed
soon after by the already-scheduled
opening of the South Brunswick
Station, which brought changes in
routine for both postal employees
Carriers and clerks now begin
their day at South Brunswick, where
there is more space to sort and route
mail. As the mail goes up, several
clerks move to the Shallotte office.
Rural customers saw changes as
well ? slips asking them to pick up
packages too large for their box not
at the Shallotte office as they were
accustomed, but at the South
With no increase in staff and two
offices to operate instead of one,
Bringoli cut counter service hours
and the number of clerks at
Shallotte, to the ire of regular cus
tomers accustomed to doing busi
ness before or after work, or during
their lunch break.
Hours have since improved at the
Seaside and Shallotte offices and
Bringoli expects even more im
provement in near future.
Shallotte hours are now 9 a.m. to
4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
South Brunswick hours are 8:30
a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through
Friday and 10 a.m. to noon
"I knew we would be changing
the hours back," asserted Bringoli,
"but I knew we couldn't do it until
we got efficient at moving mail be
tween two offices. The move was an
adjustment for our staff too."
More Improvements Coming
While Postmaster Bringoli says
many of the complaints about him
self and operation of the local post
office have not been justified, the
brouhaha caught the attention of the
U.S. Postal Service and Congres
sman Charles G. Rose's office.
Changes are in the works as a result.
Some are happening now; others
will take place next year or later.
Less than two months ago, Mid
Carolinas District officials. Admin
istrative Support Manager Leroy
Evans Jr. and Post Office Operations
Manger Nearis T. Harvey pledged
that changes would be forthcoming,
though certain past decisions won't
Working on their own initiative
without waiting for funding through
channels, local mail carriers have
moved to improve the appearance of
the main post office in Shallotte and
to ease parking problems ? both of
which have drawn customer com
In recent days, said Bringoli. car
riers have painted the interior walls,
planted flowers out front and erected
signs directing customers to ado.
tional parking spaces at the rear of
the building. The spaces were once
used by carriers, all of whom now
work out of the more spacious South
A contractor got the go-ahead
Oct. 18 to begin expanding the lob
by of the Shallotte Post Office, with
the work to be completed by Nov.
18, Bringoli said.
"Once the lobby is expanded, cus
tomers will see me or Judy (Home,
supervisor of customer service) up
there more and more every day, after
we have a real office again," said
Bringoli. "One or the other of us is
there some now every day, but we
will be there more of the afternoon."
Clerks are also working to make
box delivery at Shallotte more accu
rate, surveying customers to find out
exactly who should be receiving
mail in each box ? not always an
easy task, said clerk Kathleen
Henderson Heath, because cus
tomers occasionally leave off a
name that should be on the list, and
don't realize it until an important
piece of mail, such as Food Stamps
or a pension check, doesn't get de
"Is the person in that box? If you
put the mail in there then they're not
there. If you don't, they are there.
There's no in between."
Even with better identification,
customers may still get someone
else's mail "occasionally," typically
a sorting error ? mail that belongs to
someone with a box to one side or
the other of your box. "If you look
at their (sorting) cases you can see
how it can be misrouted, especially
as fast as they're sorting," said
Bringoli anticipates extending
window hours in conjunction with a
scheduled change in mail departure
Currently outgoing mail trucks
leave Shallotte post office at 2 p.m.
and 4:15 p.m. (a third truck leaves
here at noon Mondays and the day
after a holiday), and South Bruns
wick station at 2:30 p.m. and 4:30
p.m. only. That last departure dic
tates closing hours for counter ser
vice, Bringoli said, because any
transactions after the truck leaves
become part of the next day's busi
"By the time we get the dates
changed, it's already 5 o'clock," he
Bringoli said he plans to extend
customer service hours later into the
afternoon without cutting hours ear
lier in the day, once the outgoing
mail schedule changes.
"We'll extend our hours the same
week the truck schedule changes,"
said Bringoli. That should happen
"whenever it is" that the U.S. Postal
Service renegotiates its contracts
with mail truck drivers during the
first half of 1994.
Then the last load of outgoing
mail should leave here at 5:45 p.m
Bringoli is convinced that most of
the people he hears from are those
with minor problems. He'd rather
hear from those he suspects have
"real" problems with their mail de
"Some of the problems, I can't
fix," Bringoli concluded. "I'm as
frustrated about those as my cus
tomers are. We do it as efficiently as
we can with the resources the postal
service gives us to do it with."
Most Mail Gets Delivered Even
With Wrong Address ? Postmaster
(Continued From Page 1-A)
its load parcels and third class mail, typically arrives
around 8 a.m. On this particular day, when the load
happens to include Food Stamps? it's nearly 30 min
utes late, delayed by ihe head-on collision of two cars
on U.S. 17 south of Shallotte and the ensuing traffic
snarl. The delay put mail sorting by clerks and carriers
behind, though Bringoli adds, "We'll make up the lost
time, or most of it, by the end of the day."
Between the arrival of the two trucks and after the
clerks have sorted enough mail to get them started, 10
carriers begin their day. Taking the mail that has been
sorted by route, they begin sorting it by order of deliv
ery. As each finishes a lot of mail, another awaits his
. or her attention.
Robbie Gurganus, carrier for Route 9, typically han
dles 1,000 to 2,000 pieces of mail a day, tor 430 boxes
distributed over a 47-mile route. "I've got a pretty
small route," he says. "Some, like Route 1, 3 or 7, han
dle as much as 3,000 pieces a day on a longer route."
Ten carriers serve the area that covers just east of
Shallotte to Calabash and the state line and back up to
the Columbus County line. Several, like Rita Hawes'
Route 6, are "overburdened," very large routes in
terms of a combination of mail volume, distance trav
eled and number of boxes.
"We try to get them some help," said Bringoli.
Typically an experienced clerk can sort up to 8 to 10
feet of mail an hour.
Non-letter mail is organized as "flats," and letter
mail by tray, with some of it presorted by automation
at the regional center. But because of the error rate,
clerks at the local office typically recheck it because
the mail isn't always "broken down" (sorted) properly.
Mail presorted for the Shallotte post office boxes typi
cally goes on to Shallotte on the first mail truck.
The mail is measured by the foot instead of by the
numher of items, but typically a flat. On a typical day
the office may handle 72 feet of letter mail (approxi
mately 250 letters per foot) and 86 feet of flats (ap
proximately 115 flats to a foot). It varies though, with
mail typically heaviest on Monday, and lightest on
On a typical day the carriers are ready to head out the
door shortly after 9:30 a.m., when "local" incoming
mail boxes are checked for the last time that morning.
When that first mail truck leaves South Brunswick
station, it carries mail already sorted for customer box
es, to be dropped off at the main post office 10 miles
away in Shallotte. Soon afterward a clerk amves to be
gin putting that first load of mail up in the boxes. At 9
a.m., a half-hour later than at Seaside, the office opens
for counter service.
"The public should be very happy with the staff we
have here. Without the people we have, we would
have more problems than we do," said Bringoli.
Bonds Would Mean Allied Health Building For BCC
(Continued From Page 1-A)
matched," it has already paid for a
larger share of construction on the
BCC campus than the state.
However, there would be some
increased local cost should the
Allied Health facility be construct
ed. Brunswick County would have
to increase the money it spends for
BCC on operations and mainte
If Bond Issue Fails
What happens here if the
statewide bond referendum fails?
Reaves says BCC would be left
with several less-attractive choices:
"It would force us to go to the coun
ty commissioners and request the
money for another building. If we
don't get it, there will be no new
programs for a long time and we
will have to put some caps on num
" The worst thing that
could happen to us is
a sense of apathy, if
people think it's a
good idea but don Y
go out and vote. "
? Michael Reaves
"I've talked to a number of local
officials, and they realize that if it
were not for this bond issue, they
would be faced with the full con
struction costs," said Robert W.
Scott, president of the North Caro
lina Community College System.
"That is why they support the com
munity college bonds."
Reaves characterizes a vote for
the bond issue as not a vote for high
er taxes or wasteful spending, but a
conservative investment in the
state's future that will lead to eco
nomic growth and greater opportu
nities not only locally, but across the
entire region and state.
"This is a wonderful, wonderful
opportunity for Brunswick Com
munity College and for this region
as a whole," he concluded, noting
that Southeastern North Carolina
would receive $100 million-plus for
university and community college
construction projects if the issue
This is the first time in the 30
year history of the community col
lege system voters have had the op
portunity to vote for construction
"It is long overdue," Scott wrote
in an article for North Carolina
magazine. "In fact, if voters approve
the $250 million, which would fund
construction at every campus in the
system, the state will he providing
more construction money in one fell
swoop than it has in the entire histo
ry of the community college sys
tem." Spending over the past 30
years tots up to $197 million.
State Treasurer Harlan Boyles,
whom Reaves says is known for his
conservative fiscal stance, has said
he beliives there won't be a better
time for a major bond issue for years
to come. North Carolina has a triple
A bond rating, with only 1 percent
of the state's revenue base used for
debt service, and interest rates are at
their lowest point in 10 years.
"The worst thing that could hap
pen to us is a sense of apathy," said
Reaves. "If people think it's a good
idea but don't go out and vote."
More rain is in the forecast for the
South Brunswick Islands area.
Shallotte Point meteorologist
Jackson Canady said he anticipates
at least three-quarters of an inch of
rainfall over the next few days,
which is above average for this time
Temperatures should average near
normal, from around 50 degrees at
night into the mid-70s during the
For the period of Oct. 19-25,
Canady recorded a high of 86 de
grees on Oct. 20 and a nightly low
of 49 degrees on Oct. 24.
A daily average high of 78 de
grees combined with a nightly aver
age temperature of 59 degrees for a
daily average temperature of 59 de
grees. Canady said that is about 5
degrees above average.
He measured four-one-hundredths
of an inch of rain during the period.
Established Nov. 1, 1962
Published Every Thursday
At 4709 Main Street
Shallotte, N.C. 28459
IN BRUNSWICK COUNTY
One Year $10.36
Six Months $5.55
One Year $14.86
Six Months $7.90
ELSEWHERE IN U.S.A.
One Year $15.95
Six Months $8.35
Second class postage paid at
Shallotte, N.C. 28459. USPS 777
780. Postmaster, send address
P.O. Box 2558,
Shallotte, N.C. 28459-2558
Where The Profiles Are
Several weeks ago. The Bruns
wick Beacon sent questionnaires to
candidates in Brunswick County
municipal races, plus two sanitary
districts and one hospital board.
Candidates were asked for infor
mation about their educational and
occupational backgrounds, their lea
dership experience, their reasons for
seeking office, what issues they con
sider most important, and what char
acteristics qualify them for public
Most candidates responded, but
some did not.
The candidate profiles are
grouped by race and published
throughout this week's edition.
When candidates submitted pho
tographs or had their pictures taken
at the Beacon office, the pictures are
published with the profiles.
Here's where to find the profiles:
Boiling Spring Lakes......?llC
Caswell Beach ................... 16C
Dosher Hospital ?11C
Hold en Beach... 7 A
Leland San. Dtst...~ ?.....9B
Long Beach 15C
Navassa ??????????*,.??????? ? 11C
Northwest................ ? .....16C
Ocean Isle Beach 10A
Sandy Creek.-. 11C
Sunset Beach ? 11A
Yaupon Beach 16C
Officials in Shallotte and other local towns are suggesting that chil
dren do their Halloween trick-or-treating Saturday night instead of
Halloween officially falls on Sunday, but Police Chief Rodney
Cause said the mayor and board of aldermen are recommending that
people celebrate the holiday Saturday.
Cause said children who go door-to-door for candy and treats should
wear bright, reflective clothing and finish as early as possible.
"The later it gets the more dangerous it's going to get with more
drunks on the road. The earlier the better," Gause said.
HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO
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