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The Brunswick beacon. (Shallotte, N.C.) 19??-current, October 28, 1993, Page PAGE 2-A, Image 2

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Postmaster 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 truck. 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 day. "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 4:30 p.m. 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 master said. "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 mail. "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 ing period. 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 and customers. 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 Brunswick station. 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 Saturday. "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 be undone. 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 plaints. 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 Brunswick station. 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 livered. "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. Bringoli anticipates extending window hours in conjunction with a scheduled change in mail departure times. 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 ness. "By the time we get the dates changed, it's already 5 o'clock," he said. 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 livery. "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 Tuesday. 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 nance. 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 bers." " 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 passes. 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 funds. "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." Raindrops To Keep Falling 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 of year. Temperatures should average near normal, from around 50 degrees at night into the mid-70s during the daytime. 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. THE BRUNSWKX&BUCON Established Nov. 1, 1962 Telephone 754-6890 Published Every Thursday At 4709 Main Street Shallotte, N.C. 28459 SUBSCRIPTION RATES IN BRUNSWICK COUNTY One Year $10.36 Six Months $5.55 ELSEWHERE IN NORTH CAROLINA One Year $14.86 Six Months $7.90 ELSEWHERE IN U.S.A. One Year $15.95 Six Months $8.35 Second class postage paid at Shallotte, N.C. 28459. USPS 777 780. Postmaster, send address changes to: P.O. Box 2558, Shallotte, N.C. 28459-2558 Where The Profiles Are Several weeks ago. The Bruns wick Beacon sent questionnaires to candidates in Brunswick County municipal races, plus two sanitary districts and one hospital board. Candidates were asked for infor mation about their educational and occupational backgrounds, their lea dership experience, their reasons for seeking office, what issues they con sider most important, and what char acteristics qualify them for public service. Most candidates responded, but some did not. The candidate profiles are grouped by race and published throughout this week's edition. When candidates submitted pho tographs or had their pictures taken at the Beacon office, the pictures are published with the profiles. Here's where to find the profiles: Belville 16C Boiling Spring Lakes......?llC Bolivia 11C Calabash 12A Caswell Beach ................... 16C Dosher Hospital ?11C Hold en Beach... 7 A Leland 9B Leland San. Dtst...~ ?.....9B Long Beach 15C Navassa ??????????*,.??????? ? 11C Northwest................ ? .....16C Ocean Isle Beach 10A Sandy Creek.-. 11C ShaUotte 12A Southport H>m,WMMM?*NMM*t?15C Sunset Beach ? 11A Vamamtown 10B Yaupon Beach 16C Police Suggesting Saturday Halloween Officials in Shallotte and other local towns are suggesting that chil dren do their Halloween trick-or-treating Saturday night instead of Sunday. Halloween officially falls on Sunday, but Police Chief Rodney Cause said the mayor and board of aldermen are recommending that people celebrate the holiday Saturday. Cause said children who go door-to-door for candy and treats should wear bright, reflective clothing and finish as early as possible. "The later it gets the more dangerous it's going to get with more drunks on the road. The earlier the better," Gause said. HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE BRUNSWICK$BfACON POST OFFICE BOX 2558 SHALLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA 28459 iNOTICE: Reliable or consistent delivery cannot be guaranteed since this newspaper must rely on the U.S.\ \Postal Service for delivery. We can only guarantee that your newspaper will be submitted to the post office in \Shallotte on Wednesday of the week of publication, in time for dispatch to out-of-town addresses that day. ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION RATES BY MAIL: Sr. Citizen In Brunswick County ?6.30 05.30 N.C. Sales Tax .38 .32 Postage Charge 3.68 3.68 TOTAL 10.36 9.30 Elsewhere in North Carolina G6.30 LJ5.30 N.C. Sales Tax .38 .32 Postage Charge 8.18 8.18 TOTAL 14.86 13.80 Outside North Carolina Q6.30 ?5.30 Postage Charge 9 fis 9 TOTAL 15.95 14.95 j Complete And Return To Above Address I Name I Address City, State Zip : I I

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