Deliveries slowed by snow PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer   
Wednesday, 08 January 2014 10:51
US Postal carrier Bryan Mancini walks south on Main Street while delivering the mail. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
While most were barred from roadways during a snow emergency this week, some drivers were doing everything they could to make deliveries on time.
With the creed of the U.S. Postal Service driving them, letter carriers trudged through snow and ice to ensure the mail remained as efficient as possible.
Rob Girlie, Bowling Green's postmaster, said 25 carriers were braving the elements at their discretion, facing challenges such as unshoveled sidewalks, deep snow drifts and buried mailboxes.
"We always encourage residents to shovel a path to their mailbox, whether it's on the house or on the road," Girlie said. "A lot of times plows won't get to the box, so we can't get to it to deliver."
Delays came Monday due to those problems, as well as drifts that prevented rural routes from being reached. The BG office serves residents as far away as Haskins and West River Road near Grand Rapids, Girlie said.
"We had to curtail some of that because we couldn't get down the roads," he said, adding that even residents who had shoveled their walks often had it quickly covered again by drifting snow.
Cold was the bigger problem Tuesday, as the city reached a record-low temperature of minus 15 the night before, and the cold and strong winds remained. It wasn't enough to bring down the post office, however, as mail reached more than 11,000 locations.
Girlie said it was up to carriers whether they would deliver mail during such conditions, and frequent breaks to warm up were encouraged.
No carrier injuries were reported, with the only setbacks including a few minor slip-and-falls and "cold hands and feet," the postmaster said.
"Feel free to give our carriers some coffee or hot chocolate," Girlie added. "I'm sure they'd enjoy that."
A Jimmy John's driver pulls away after making a delivery Tuesday afternoon in Bowling Green.
The Sentinel-Tribune itself was met with similar circumstances. The newspaper was delayed on Monday due to printing-press problems and because only six of 29 carriers were able to safely reach the office in Bowling Green, said Randy Machan, director of circulation.
"This is the first time in 35 years of circulation that I've had two Level 3's in a row, coupled with the biting temperatures. It's been very challenging," Machan said.
Carriers typically handle a sum of about 7,500 newspapers each day, but with many county roads impassable, delivery was limited on Monday. Tuesday saw improvements with only 6 carriers unable to report, although road conditions remained a challenge.
"We got to more people (Tuesday). Today, I think we'll probably hit most of it," Machan said, noting that it's up to individual carriers to decide whether they feel safe delivering the newspaper. "The safety of our delivery force is our first concern."
While some carriers experienced problems with their vehicles, Machan said was not aware of any injuries.
Snowbound residents were also assisted by a few businesses that decided to remain open. Delivery drivers for Jimmy John's and Papa John's could be seen shuttling sandwiches and pizzas across town Tuesday, with the latter reporting wait times approaching two hours.
"We stayed open for business. I think we were one of the only places open," said Kevin Smith, general manager of Jimmy John's in Bowling Green.
Smith said the weather still hindered business, but staying open while many others did not allowed sales to remain at about two-thirds of a normal day.
The restaurant opens at 10 a.m. and didn't start delivery service until 2 p.m. Monday. But once it did, things picked up quickly.
"It was really, really busy that night," Smith said. "I got called in to come and help."
With a Level 3 snow emergency still in effect, the sandwich shop stayed busy on Tuesday. Drivers were warned to take caution on the roads, but the flurry of business continued, even including an order of 50 sandwiches to Bowling Green State University.

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