A local U.S. Postal Service postmaster says despite consolidation and cutbacks, first-class and priority mail is reaching its destination as quickly as ever.
“It’s moving the same as usual,” said Rick DeWitt, Rehoboth Beach postmaster.
DeWitt said the speed of second-class mail delivery hasn’t changed either. Second-class mail is periodicals and includes items such as newspapers, magazines and catalogs.
“There is a push to improve our periodical processing. We’re concentrating on that,” DeWitt said.
In June, the postal service closed its annex on Savannah Road in Lewes, and consolidated it with mail-handling operations at its Rehoboth Beach annex on Route 1 north of Dewey Beach.
The Lewes annex closure was one of hundreds long-planned by the postal service. By closing facilities nationwide, the postal service is aiming to put a dent in its $20 million and growing, budget deficit.
Since consolidation, Lewes’ post office has been functioning without a postmaster. The facility continues to provide window service and post office boxes.
DeWitt said IBM conducts periodic delivery speed tests for the postal service. “About 96 to 97 percent of first-class mail makes it overnight. That means only three out of 100 don’t make it overnight,” he said.
DeWitt said several things might cause delivery delays:
• Illegible zip codes that sorting machine couldn’t read
• Sorting machine misreads a zip code, for example sees a 19956, Millsboro item, as 19958, Lewes, and misdirects it
• No zip code on an article
He said mail deposited at any local town's main post office before the 5 p.m. final dispatch, goes to the New Castle processing plant where it’s sorted, sent to the zip code it bears, and delivered the following day.
“They process 200,000 to 400,000 pieces a day in New Castle,” DeWitt said. He said the postal service is usually able to determine what caused a delayed delivery.
He said after misdirected items loop through the automated system a couple times, a postal worker uses a china marker to draw a line through the incorrect bar code the postal service has printed on an article. The item is hand-handled to the intended zip code.
They also use a transparent fluorescent marker to highlight the bar code on some items so they can see the lines and determine how the item was misdirected.
The postal service has several products and rates to fit various customer needs. For additional information and mailing tips, go to www.usps.com.