The Lawrence postmaster gives the answers to some common questions about mail delivery.
Lawrence Postmaster Bill Reynolds will celebrate his 30th year with the United States Postal Service in October.
In a recent interview, he gave insight into some commonly asked questions and told about changes that the post offices in Lawrence will experience this fall.
How did you begin your career with the United States Postal Service?
I was appointed postmaster on Oct. 4, 1986. I started out in 1966 as a clerk in Topeka sorting mail on a letter sorting machine. I worked four hours a night, and my first job was sitting at a conveyor belt with two slots and sorting the mail in two different sizes facing in the same direction.
How should letters be appropriately addressed?
The perfect letter for the automation sorting is a nice letter that is neatly typed in all capital letters, with a zip plus four code and a return address. Typewriting is great. We appreciate that, but neatly handwritten is fine, too.
What is a "zip plus four code?"
That tells our machinery which side of the street the building will be on. It may be the even side or the odd side of the city block.
How can someone find out their zip plus four code?
They can find their zip plus four code from us or if they look at a bill that comes it may already be on there, and it's usually correct.
How many zip codes are there in Lawrence?
Lawrence has grown and there are four zip codes: 66044; 66045 is KU; 66046; 66047, then 66048 is Leavenworth and 66049. What happened was that when the zip codes were established in 1963, they just guessed that we would grow so they gave us four zip codes and skipped to 66048 for Leavenworth. They didn't know Lawrence would grow as big as it has.
How many addresses are covered by a zip code?
There are 15,000 to 20,000 addresses per zip code, and there are 9,999 potential additional addresses with the plus four addresses.
Is mail insured by the Postal Service?
No. Mail is not insured unless you insure it yourself, like with a certified letter. That's the most difficult part of my job. We handle 600 million pieces of mail a day, but there is always going to be that 599 millionth person that doesn't get their delivery. We don't like to damage even one package.
How much can you insure a letter for?
Up to $700 insurance on parcels. We offer registered mail also, and that is insurable up to $25,000. For large businesses -- if they are going to mail out 1,000 pieces of mail a day -- a lot of businesses will just not insure it because they know it will cost them more to insure each individual package than to replace that one or so damaged package. We handle certified, registered and insured mail, and we keep delivery records for two years.
I tell people that the registered mail is the safest way to send anything in the mail. We sign for it every time it changes hands.
Will the cost of regular postage continue to increase?
The cost of postage is related to inflation more than anything else. I think I saw a statistic that said if it weren't for inflation, the 32-cent stamp would still be 8 cents. But the rate of inflation for stamps has been less than the rate of inflation for anything else. I've always said that if we could save just two minutes a day per carrier route, we could save an enormous amount of money.
How will the post office be affected by students changing their addresses this month?
It makes things much harder for our employees. We will do 8,000 to 10,000 changes in May when the students leave for graduation or to move back home for the summer. We'll get probably another 10,000 in August when students move at the end of their leases. The worst thing that can happen in August is when people move and they don't tell us they've moved.
How soon in advance should students inform the post office of a change of address?
If they know where they're going to go, then seven to 10 days in advance would be best.
How soon will the new post office on 31st Street be opened?
The new post office should be open sometime in the last week of July. We're going to move everything at the old location to the 31st Street location. Nothing will be kept at the 23rd Street location. With the new automated sorting machines, someone can drop a piece of mail off and a human being wouldn't actually touch that piece of mail until it would be ready to go out on the route.