Postal staff busy as elves during season
Tips given for sending mail, parcels

Mary Mattingly

Everyone recognizes that the Christmas season is the busiest one for retailers. But it’s also the busiest season for the post office. The postal clerks become Santa’s top helpers during the month!

“We process between 4,000 to 5,000 pieces of mail a day. It’s easily twice as much as that during the month of December,” said Alan Weiss, postmaster at Versailles. And that’s just one of the 11 post offices in Ripley County.

They do not add staff to their workforce of nine at this time. “We have twice as much work with the same amount of people,” Weiss commented. It’s no wonder they look forward to the end of the month. “Yes, it is hectic, but we see it coming,” Weiss said.

Actually, holiday mail is down somewhat from the days he started 35 years ago. One reason is electronic mail, but another is fewer people are practicing the tradition of sending Christmas cards. “It’s not as much as it used to be. The younger ones, under 40, don’t do it so much,” he said, figuring they use social media to send messages. Marvin McNew

At right, Marvin McNew, Versailles postal carrier, sorts his mail route on Monday to prepare for delivery.

Osgood Postmaster Lynne Miller agrees the Christmas card tradition is down, “but people still do it.” It’s still an inexpensive way to reach out to someone. The postmasters said many prefer the holiday stamps, and this year they have a gingerbread house, a wreath, the Holy Family, poinsettia, Hanukkah, Virgin and Child, and more to choose from.

The increase in mail business at this time of year is also due to packages. Holton post officer Jamie Tipton said, “December is our biggest time, and we process more mail, but it’s also a lot of packages.”

Milan’s Teresa Bonnlander notes certain days are busier than others. “Mondays are the busiest day during the holidays because everyone prepared their packages or cards over the weekend,” the sales postal clerk said. She predicts Friday, Dec. 20 to be somewhat hectic at the post office since the holiday is just around the corner.

This year, Christmas falls on a Wednesday. Lynne Miller, Osgood postmaster, commented, “I think our busiest week will be the week prior to the holiday.” Post offices have also been busy processing Santa letters. “No stamp is needed and we send it to the North Pole,” Miller said. “Children should get a response.”

All mail in Ripley County goes to Cincinnati. Weiss said to figure the next day for delivery if it’s local, the day after if it’s going to Louisville, Lexington, Columbus, Ohio, and Dayton.

Tipton suggested to mail packages by Dec. 21 to ensure delivery for Christmas, and keep in mind the further it has to go, such as the west coast, or far south, the longer it takes.


At left, Stephen Huntington sorts the holiday mail for Versailles post office delivery.

Suggestions for holiday delivery:
• Overall, the earlier you mail a package, the better chance of it getting there before Dec. 25, and the less cost to do so. But for procrastinators, the USPS will be open Dec. 24, and does have express overnight delivery. The postmasters said they are typically busier in the morning on Christmas Eve than in the afternoon.

• Always include the zip code. A zip code helps the machine sort where it is to go.
Make sure handwriting is legible on both the return address or to the sender, to eliminate any guess work by the clerks. Rural post office carriers may know the name, but delivery could be delayed.

• Addresses are read by a machine, and dark ink (not silver as in some Christmas cards) is best. If you have shaky penmanship, ask someone for assistance in addressing cards or packages.

• Have the correct postage. The oversized singing cards or those cards with bumps usually require another 20 cent stamp because they cannot be processed through the machines.

• If sending Christmas card photos, an extra 20 cents per envelope will keep it from the possibility of being bent when processed by machine.

• Some people wrap packages in holiday paper, and it is acceptable but there is a chance it could tear. The post office does sell boxes with holiday prints.

• Carriers will pick up packages at home at no extra cost. You can also go online to their website to order boxes and those too can be delivered for no extra fee. Or, you can pick up at your local post office.

Postal deadlines:
To ensure delivery by Dec. 25 the post office suggests mailing dates:
Within the U.S., Dec. 20 for first class mail; Dec. 21, for Priority Mail; and Dec. 23 for Priority Mail Express. For overseas military packages and letters, send first class by Dec. 10 (unless it’s a 093 zip and send by Dec. 3). Dec. 17 is the final date for military mail, but it will cost more since its through Priority Mail Express. Standard post deadlines were actually in mid-November. Remember all mail addressed to military post offices overseas is subject to certain conditions or restrictions regarding content, preparing and handling.

The post office closes for Christmas.


Polar Plunge helps local Special Olympians

In the 40-plus years since its founding, Special Olympics Indiana has become a movement that is active in almost all Indiana counties, including Ripley, reaching nearly 11,000 athletes, 10,000 volunteers, thousands of committed family members and other stakeholders.

One of the signature events of the Special Olympics in Ripley County is the annual Polar Plunge. The 2014 Plunge will mark its 15th anniversary. This year it is slated for Feb. 22 at the Versailles State Park. Last year, 140 participated. Besides Ripley County, there are 12 Plunges across Indiana: Bloomington, Boonville, Borden, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis (2), Kokomo, Muncie, Terre Haute, Valparaiso, and West Lafayette.

Since its inception, Hoosiers have raised more than $2.7 million making the Polar Plunge the largest fundraising event benefiting Special Olympics in the state. Ripley County raised over $50,000.00 dollars last year, and their goal this year is $60,000.00

What is the plunge
Individuals and groups jump into the frigid and icy waters of Indiana, soliciting donations from family and friends often dressing up to make this “bucket list” activity as memorable as possible. The schools send teams, so do churches, businesses and civic clubs. “It’s a fun, festive atmosphere, all to bring awareness to our athletes and the organization, said Bill McDonald. McDonald is the local plunge venue manager.

The daily, year-round mission of Special Olympics is to provide sports training and competition for people with intellectual disabilities. “The result is that lives change not only the lives of Special Olympics athletes, but also those of everyone they touch,” said Greg Townsend, delegation coordinator.

Each year, the community-based programming culminates in a variety of statewide competitions and fundraising events such as the Polar Plunge, State Basketball and Bowling Tournaments, Plane Pull, Athlete Leadership Programs, and Summer Games. “ Indiana’s programs are known to be some of the best and biggest in the world,” Townsend said.

Special Olympics Indiana Ripley-Ohio-Dearborn provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in Alpine Skiing, Aquatics, Basketball, Bowling, Bocce, Corn Toss, Equestrian, Flag Football, Golf, Motor Activities Training Program, Softball, Snowshoeing, Snowboarding, and Track and Field. Reaching approximately 201 children and adults with intellectual disabilities, the delegation is managed by a group of volunteers who give time to a program they believe in. The delegation receives no funds from federal or state appropriated funds and relies entirely on corporate, civic, and individual donations on the local level. For more information about Special Olympics Indiana - Ripley Ohio Dearborn, call (812) 584-6861 or visit

Sponsors needed
They are currently seeking sponsors for the Polar Plunge. There are various levels available, from $250 to $20,000 Benefits available to all Special Olympics Indiana sponsors include recognition on the website, annual report; Opportunity for employee volunteerism with Special Olympics Indiana; Opportunity to have a company representative present awards at event; Opportunity for Special Olympics Indiana presentation at company meeting, and Opportunity to provide sample of product or information at event.

To learn more about becoming a sponsor of the 2014 Polar Plunge at Versailles State Park, contact Townsend, Delegation Coordinator of Special Olympics Indiana in Ripley, Ohio and Dearborn Counties, at 812-584-6861 or To register online to participate in the Polar Plunge, please visit Deadline for local sponsorship is December 15.




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