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  Wednesday January 28th, 2015    

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Give mail an extra day (05/05/2013)
By Chris Rogers

Last minute runs to drop off mail before 5 p.m. may as well wait for tomorrow. And it might be wise to plan on mailed checks taking an extra day to reach the bank. With upcoming changes to the Winona Post Office, late-afternoon mail may have to wait until the next day. The last daily mail truck will be leaving Winona earlier, and the last collection at drop boxes will be earlier as well.

Collection boxes in Winona are posted with signs that read that the pick-up time for those boxes will change from 5 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8. Postal service officials said that the final mail truck taking outgoing mail from the Winona Post Office will likely be leaving sooner each day, as well, though details of that change were not available at the time of printing.

Additionally, mail headed to and coming from distant addresses is taking longer to arrive, following the closure of a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) plant in Rochester in February. Distant mail is now brought to Winona from St. Paul, meaning an extra two-hour drive, enough to cause some mailings to spend an extra day en route.

For local businesses that send and receive lots of mail through the Winona Post Office, those changes to the postal service, especially longer delivery times, make a difference.

"We have customers calling in saying it's taking longer [to get letters from the bank]," said one Winona National employee.

For a few customers, that has been more than a minor inconvenience. "Accounts have been overdrawn because they mailed a check to be deposited and it doesn't get here until two to three days later," the employee said.

Joe Pomeroy of Watkins, Inc. said, "I don't think those trucks are getting in at a very good time and it's affecting the output of the postal service."

He continued, "I've heard about letters taking 4 to 5 days to get places, and I've heard that we've gotten complaints."

Amy Jilk of Fastenal said that collection box pick-up times will not affect her company, which uses a mail service out of La Crosse for outgoing mail, but "the sortation center closing in Rochester, that's going to affect us."

Jilk said she plans to adjust to the change in delivery times. "You restructure things a little bit. We'll figure it out."

Multiple businesses pointed out that the closure of the Rochester plant will be most felt when big winter storms hit the area. Foul weather could greatly multiply the driving time for delivery trucks from St. Paul. Though we have had a rough spring, Winona has yet to go through a full winter of mail coming the Twin Cities. "We're not sure how much this is going to affect us yet," Jilk said.

"The main goal is to get [outgoing] mail by 3 or 3:30," Winona Postmater Sherri Genkinger advised. "If you can get your mail here by then, your turn-around will be much better. That's always been the rule of thumb." 


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