TRUMANN, Ark. — The Trumann mayor, who earlier this month staved off four challengers in the general election, recently said that the city’s mail service hasn’t been the same since the U.S. Postal Service’s Jonesboro sorting center shut down several years ago.
Mail is sorted through a sorting center in Memphis now. Mayor Barbara Lewallen and others aren’t satisfied with the service, the Jonesboro Sun reported.
It makes it hard for the city’s bills to reach their intended destination on time, she said.
“Sometimes we don’t get our bills until two days before they’re due,” she said. “Sometimes we don’t get them until a week later. We’re most concerned because the City of Trumann pays its bills, and we pay them on time. It’s not that we’re not sending our checks out. It’s that they’re not getting there. It’s hurting our budget; it’s hurting our city’s image.”
The city was recently assessed a late charge, Lewallen said.
In an effort to avoid the repercussions of missing another important delivery, Lewallen said the city had a bookkeeper drive to Jonesboro and pay for FedEx to overnight a check to Little Rock.
“We can’t send every piece of mail though FedEx,” she said. “We’d go broke.”
Lewallen stressed that the issues aren’t with the local post office, which she described as “first-class.”
“It is not our local postal service,” she said. “The problem is when the mail is gathered and delivered to Memphis. You may never see it again.”
Craighead County Chief Deputy Circuit Clerk John Smith said the office has also seen the effects of sluggish mail service.
“We account for that process,” he said. “We used to be able to mail jury notices close to the end of the month. Now they go out on the 15th.”
Smith said the office has had to make adjustments to account for the changes in delivery. Still, sometimes jurors don’t receive their notices. That’s not completely uncommon elsewhere, he cautioned.
A Sun reporter reached out to a state office for the postal service and was directed to a second office and then to a regional representative based in Texas. The representative did not return a call for comment.
Lewallen said she’d also tried to register her concerns, but had received a generic response. The mayor said she’s reached out to U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, and is hoping he can instigate a solution.
Sara Robertson, communications manager for Crawford’s office, said they’ve been hearing about the issues a lot across Crawford’s district.
Earlier this year, Crawford wrote a letter asking for an in-depth explanation of the operations at the post office. He visited the center in June and met with the plant manager.
“Since that visit, we’ve started preliminary discussions with USPS about potentially reopening the Jonesboro sorting center, and we believe that reopening the center would eliminate many of these postal issues,” Robertson said.