So that’s how it works

Posted March 13, 2013 at 8:19 pm


Courier delivery process explained

By Sherry Lind | Editor

We at the Griggs County Courier have received many questions about how our paper is delivered and the length of time it takes to receive the paper in the mail. To answer these questions I spoke with Dorene Heinze, the Postmaster in Cooperstown.

First, I will explain the Courier’s part in the addressing process, and then I will explain the Postal Service’s part of the mailing process.

When Nicole Henton, administrative assistant, receives a new subscription or a renewal she fills out an entry on a circulation update sheet. This information includes the subscriber’s name and address, payment information such as amount and check number, and whether it is a new subscription, a renewal, or an address change. Nicole e-mails these sheets to Mary at our corporate office in Iowa. Mary is the circulation manager for New Century Press. She enters these changes into a program designed specifically for newspapers. This program generates an updated mailing list complete with addresses each week.

These addresses are ink-jetted directly onto the Courier. The newspapers are then put into bundles and mailing sacks according to zip code and delivered to Fargo where our local delivery person, Jim Averill of Hannaford, picks them up on Thursday morning and delivers them to the post office in Cooperstown to be mailed.

The mail sacks containing the papers for Cooperstown and Hannaford are pulled for local delivery and the rest are put on a mail truck at 4:30 p.m., which goes to Valley City. In Valley City they are loaded onto another truck and taken to the Sectional Center Facility in Fargo, which is a sorting facility. This facility sorts mailing sacks for all zip codes in North Dakota and 565 and 567 zip codes in Minnesota.

Heinze explained that there are several ways the mailing sacks are broken up. You need to have at least 24 pieces to make a sack. So if there are at least 24 papers going to the same town they would get their own sack. If not, then they would be put into a 3-digit sack, which would have all the papers that fall into a postal area. For instance, if the first three numbers of the zip code are 584, then all those papers will go to the Jamestown post office to be sorted by hand. Any zip codes that have at least six papers will be in their own bundle. Any towns with less than six will be bundled with other 584 towns that have less than six copies and would have to be individually placed in the proper bin for that town. Each town will then receive all of their mail and will sort it by individual address.

Out of state mail will have to be trucked further. For instance, Heinze described a paper going to Ft Myers, Florida. “There are not 24 pieces to Ft Meyers, FL 33908 so the paper doesn’t go into a 5 digit sack; there are not 24 pieces to a 3 Digit sack for that zip code (339). That zip code is not handled by the Fargo Plant, so they are put into a sack for the Des Moines Distribution Center (which handles mail coming from an 800 miles radius) Ft Meyers is over 800 miles away, so the sack is opened and sorted with other periodicals, etc. from other parts of the country, which then are placed in a sack for the Atlanta, Georgia processing plant. There it will be opened up and sorted with other periodicals from other parts of the country and placed in a sack for the Ft Myers distribution center.”

In short, the paper would go from Fargo by truck to Des Moines, Iowa where there is an area distribution center (ADC). From Iowa it would go by truck to the Atlanta ADC, and from Atlanta it would be trucked to Fort Myers, which is a SCF like Fargo. For smaller towns there will be another step or two. At each stop, the mail sacks are off-loaded, sorted, and put on another truck until they reach the subscriber’s mail route.

Since the papers are mailed via periodical rate they are only transported by truck and are never put on a plane. They are transferred at each location and sorted. The sacks are not opened until they reach the specific sorting center specified on the sack. At that time, they may be put into a sack with a bunch of other mail going to a certain zip code. So if there is one paper going to Bangor, Maine, than that paper will be put in a sack going in that direction. Due to all of these stops and the various levels of sorting, it takes time for the papers to get where they are going. For example, a paper going to Oregon will take about nine days; to California, eight days; to Texas, four to seven days; to Arizona, seven days.

There are several things that may make the delivery even longer. Periodical mail is of a lower precedence than Express, Priority and first class mail, so if there is a lot of higher-priority mail (which is everything except non-profit and standard mail, which is mostly made up of what we call ‘junk’ mail), then the periodical mail will not be dealt with in a timely fashion, since they have to sort the higher priorities first. This may delay the paper another day or two.

If mail is being forwarded that will add another few days to the process. Mail is handled via automatic sorting machines as much as possible, so if the address gets smeared or made unreadable for the machines in some way, it will be booted out and have to be sorted by hand after all the other mail is done. And, of course, there is always human error, and things like weather and truck breakdowns that may hold up the process.

If you fail to receive your paper, first please call the Courier in order to make sure that it hasn’t expired. If you are in our addressing system, and your subscription is kept up to date, your address is being placed on a Courier and brought to the post office. Your paper , unfortunately, is then somewhere within the postal system.