Wolf Point Herald

The Snail May Be Racing The Turtle With New Mail Delivery Delays

The scenario frequently joked about of the snail symbolizing the United States Postal Service might have come closer to reality with the USPS slowing delivery by one day for first-class and periodicals mail.
The bad news is USPS plans to close 82 mail processing plants across the nation this year by consolidated some smaller plants into larger facilities in urban areas. The good news is Montana’s three processing plants in Billings, Great Falls and Missoula will not be affected, at least not this year, according to USPS Minneapolis-based spokesman Peter Nowacki.
“They will not be impacted by the consolidations scheduled for later this year. Wolf Point’s mail is processed in Billings,” he said. “There are no changes coming in Montana this year as far facilities go. There is a change in a service standard for first class letters effective Jan. 2.”
Nowacki did not speculate on possible Montana plant closing beyond 2015.
Because of the consolidation, USPS added an additional day to the expected service standards for much of its mail, which will affect about 14 billion pieces of the total volume of mail, which is 9 percent, and up to 16 percent of single-piece first class mail. Overnight processing and delivery will remain available.
“Local, single-piece first class mail now has a delivery standard of two days instead of overnight,” Nowacki said.
The USPS closed nearly 150 processing plants across the nation during the past three years, which has affected all portions of mail delivery.
According to the USPS, total mail volume has declined by more than 56 billion pieces [26 percent] in the past 10 years. First class volume has declined 34.5 billion pieces [35 percent] for the same period.
The new service standards will not affect deliveries of packages, medicine and standard mail, which is advertising.
The Postal Service says it must make operational changes to adapt to changing needs with fewer letters and considerably more packages. Increasing popularity of email has hurt the postal service.
In 2014, the Postal Service delivered 155.4 billion pieces of mail and packages.

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Wolf Point Speech And Drama Competes At Three Meets

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The Wolf Point High School speech and drama members competing at the Malta meet were (from left to right) Jeremy Birkoski, Jaki Harada, Devin Northington, Haron Eymard and Jacob Boysun.   (Submitted photo)

The Wolf Point High School Speech and Drama team has competed at three recent meets.
On Saturday, Dec. 13, the Wolves competed in the Billings Central Speech and Drama Tournament. The competition was tough. Only one Wolf made finals. Devin Northington competed for the first time in Serious Oral Interpretation. He placed first, first and second in the preliminary rounds. In finals, he scored seventh, sixth and sixth, taking seventh place.
On Saturday, Dec. 20, the Wolves competed in the Baker Tournament. Jacob Boysun placed third in Humorous Oral Interpretation. Haron Eymard placed sixth and Devin Northington claimed second place in Serious Oral Interpretation. Jaki Harada took second in Pantomime. The Wolves claimed a solid third place as a team behind Forsyth taking second, and Baker claiming first place.
On Saturday, Jan. 10, the Wolves competed in the Malta Tournament. In the SOI preliminary rounds, Eymard scored third, first and fifth, for a score of 9. Northington scored first, third and first, for a score of 5. Both qualified for finals.
In the final round, Eymard scored fifth, third and seventh, for a final score of 24, taking fifth place. Northington scored second, first and second, for a final score of 10, taking second place.
In the HOI preliminary rounds, Jeremy Birkoski scored first, third and fourth, for a score of 8. Boysun scored third, third and first, for a score of 7. Both qualified for finals.
Birkoski scored second, second and fourth, for a final score of 16, taking fourth place. Boysun scored sixth, fourth and sixth, taking fifth place.
In the Pantomime preliminaries, Jaki Harada scored fifth, first and third, for a score of 9, qualifying her for finals. Harada scored third, third and fourth, for a final score of 19, taking third place.
The Wolf Pack took fourth as a team. Malta took third, Conrad second and Glasgow took first place.

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Firefighters Respond To Four Suspected Arson Fires

The Wolf Point Volunteer Fire Department responded to four suspicious fires that could have been arson Jan. 5-11.
Firefighters extinguished two garbage can fires on Monday, Jan. 5, at 9:18 p.m. and 10:12 p.m. Both were on Eighth Avenue North.
At 10:24 p.m., the WPVFD responded with two trucks and crews to a structure fire on Third Avenue South and Idaho Street. An abandoned mobile home was damaged.
Fire chief Shawn Eggar said there is a police investigation.
Another garbage fire was reported Sunday, Jan. 11, at 6:16 a.m.

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Opinion: Rural Mail Delivery Will Suffer With More Mail Plant Closures

(Editor’s Note: The author of this opinion piece is the publisher of The Nebraska Signal in Geneva, Neb., and president of the National Newspaper Association.)
A friend of mine from South Dakota noted that the U.S. Postal Service delivered a lump of coal to many small towns last Christmas when it proceeded to eliminate overnight mail in most of the nation in 2015. That was a good description. USPS will slow delivery officially by one day for first-class and periodicals mail. Many members of Congress have asked it to hold off. But USPS is plowing ahead.
It is time for lawmakers to consider how rural and small town mail is suffering.
The USPS plans to close more than 80 mail processing plants in 2015. Smaller plants will be consolidated into urban plants. It has already closed nearly 150 plants in the past three years and says service was not affected.
That is hard to believe, at least in small towns.
Longer road trips for most mail, traffic delays in urban areas to get sorted mail back to the local post offices, post office closings and shorter business hours have made claims of good service hard to trust. There is also the upheaval while workers lose their jobs or have to be retrained. Now, according to the nation’s mail agency, cost-cutting means admitting service will be even slower, even in urban areas, by at least a day.
What the public announcements do not say is that when America’s mail sneezes, rural mail gets pneumonia. Cutting a service day is a big sneeze even in the metro areas. But rural and small town mail had already contracted the illness. Many subscribers who receive newspapers by mail have been disappointed by late deliveries. The scattered reports we may hear of delayed credit card payments and business invoices would be much louder if consumers felt there was any point in complaining.
Unfortunately for many — seniors without Internet capabilities, lower income residents, rural folks without good Internet service and people who just don’t trust the Internet — the mail is a necessity.
The USPS inspector general last October chastised the agency for not fully analyzing the impact from its proposed plant closings and the Postal Service said it would do so—but only after its slower service standards go into effect. In other words, it will consider whether it can reach its goals after it has lowered them.
Even before the change, it has been hard to find out how well rural mail is delivered.
The Postal Service provides a public report to its regulator, the Postal Regulatory Commission, on how well it performs against its service standards. See Periodic Reports at www.prc.gov. USPS gathers information on speed of delivery from several sources, including its own digital scanning. The greatest volume of mail is in urban areas, so national statistics may look ok. But the law doesn’t require USPS to report on how the rural mail is doing. That is something Congress should consider.

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Macdonald Urges DUI Task Force Support By State Legislation

County Commissioner Gary Macdonald told the Roosevelt County DUI Task Force that passage of House Bill 132 would financially benefit county drinking and driving prevention programs statewide during the monthly meeting, Wednesday, Jan. 7.
The bill was introduced for the legislative current session at the request of the Montana Department of Transportation.
The proposed change would allow reallocation of unspent special revenue funds to Roosevelt County and 35 other counties that have DUI task forces or other county drinking and driving prevention programs, by allowing for the county portion of driver’s license reinstatement fees collected in counties that do not have task forces to be distributed to the 36 counties that have task forces July 1 of each year on an equal basis.
The legislation would take effect July 1, if passed by the House and Senate and signed by Gov. Steve Bullock.
Twenty of Montana’s 56 counties do not have county drinking and driving prevention programs.
“The money would be divided up equally among the counties that have DUI task forces,” Macdonald said.
“I will definitely be there [at the Legislature] to speak in favor of it,” he said.
Several meetings to organize a DUI task force were held between late 2013 and April 2014 when the county commissioners approved a resolution that formally established the task force. The group that had been meeting as a steering committee comprised of elected officials, law enforcement and county residents, approved by-laws during its first official meeting Wednesday, May 7.
Macdonald chairs the task force. The other officers are: Wolf Point Police Chief Jeff Harada, vice chair; Mary Vine, who also serves as coordinator for the task force, secretary; and Kahlil Wehbe, treasurer.
The DUI Task Force meets monthly at the Roosevelt County Health Department on Custer Street across from the Courthouse in the community services conference room. The next scheduled meeting will be Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 2 p.m. The public is welcome to attend the meetings.

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