USPS changes might create local effects

“The only constant is change,” said Kevin Branson, USPS postmaster for Hood River. Being practical and adaptable is just part of the work he does.

With the recent announcement of the elimination of Saturday letter delivery by August, and a directive from Congress to “keep taking methods to become more efficient,” Branson, like all postmasters across the country, is ready to roll with whatever the latest news brings.

“I’m thinking this is a wait-and-see situation. A lot can happen before August. It may not happen,” he said. “Maybe Congress will sit up and take notice and put in some favorable legislation to help out. That is my personal hope.”

In the meantime, Branson doesn’t anticipate a huge local impact.

“The big savings are at the national level where there will be savings on 500,000-600,000 employees’ salary and benefits,” he said.

“This shouldn’t reduce any local fulltime positions: We have been diligent to hire to the workload that we have. Some of the part-time temps may see a reduction in their hours; we don’t have any of the logistics yet.

“Personally I anticipate that the hours will simply shift — Mondays will be heavier and we will need the additional assistance along with days after holidays,” he said.

As Branson sorts through the daily barrage of emails on the potential changes at the national level, he tries to maintain a philosophical balance.

“Every day things are changing and we must be able to adapt quickly.”

As for the anticipated logistics: No home mailbox letter delivery will be offered on Saturdays; local post office windows will remain closed as they currently are on Saturdays. Certain classes of packages will still be delivered to home boxes and P.O. boxes.

“They haven’t determined the type of parcels that will still be delivered,” said Branson. “These will probably be priority or express, but I’m not sure if surface mail (formerly known as parcel post) and medium mail is part of the mix. There is some talk from the postmaster general about exploring parcel delivery on Sunday”; a potential expansion of service.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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