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Shortchanging postal customers; Closing regional sorting centers harms small businesses and postal patrons

September 18, 2013

Last week not a single New York State subscriber to The River Reporter who receives his or her newspaper through the mail got it on time, courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), and the U.S. Congress. Our phones rang off the hook with unhappy readers.

To our readers: we don’t blame you for being unhappy. The newspaper that you routinely expect to receive on Thursday was not delivered until Saturday or in some cases not until Monday.

So, first off, we would like to apologize to each and every subscriber who was disappointed and/or inconvenienced by this unwelcome situation.

Next, we would like to address what’s going on with USPS in our region. This sad state of affairs is a direct result of the shutting down of the USPS sorting and distribution center in Newburgh, NY, due to budgetary requirements established by the U.S. Congress. The mail you now post in Sullivan County (even if its destination is another location in Sullivan County) has to be driven those extra 100 miles from Newburgh to Albany to be sorted, before it goes on to its destination. Not only the extra distance, but also the timing of the delivery conspired to delay your receiving your newspaper.

Last week, as we have always done, The River Reporter delivered its newspapers to the Newburgh sorting facility on Wednesday before noon. But after that, things went awry. On Friday, the best explanation of what happened came from a tight-lipped postal employee (we can’t help but think they were under instruction not to say more) that the cause was “the big transition” in the USPS Mid-Hudson region. “We hope to resolve these issues soon,” was the best apology we got.

On Monday, when we finally reached Newburgh’s USPS Postmaster Robert Dini and explained that our readers had not received their newspapers on Thursday, as was customary, his response was, “That’s probably not going to happen anymore.” Simply put, the consequences of the consolidation of sorting centers will affect our newspaper and its readers, and also can be expected to extend to other postal customers and other businesses in our region. (Pennsylvania postal customers in the Upper Delaware River Valley should not be too complaisant, either; mail once sorted in Scranton now goes to the Lehigh Valley sorting center and has also recently cause delivery delays of The River Reporter.)