By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
Whoops! It’s already the first week of December, and thoughts turn to Christmas cards and packages to be mailed. Jerry Lines, postmaster of the U.S. Postal Service in Imperial, has some guidelines.
The military mail needs your attention first. Dec. 4 is the first deadline of which to be aware. Lines said military mail for overseas and to APO and FPO zips of 093, as well as priority and first class letters to Africa, Central and South America, should be mailed by Dec. 4.
In addition, Parcel Airlift Mail to APO/FPO zips of 090-092, 094-098, 340 and 962-966 should be mailed by Dec. 4.
Parcel Post mail, the most economical way, should be mailed by Dec. 18. First Class mail should hit the post office by Dec. 21.
Priority mail should be sent by Dec. 22, while Express mail should be sent by Dec. 23. Express mail will be delivered in some large cities on Christmas Day, but Lines said that doesn’t include Imperial.
He said the busiest outgoing mail day is expected to be Dec. 14. The busiest incoming mail day should be Dec. 21.
If you have an armload of packages to process, the best time to do so at the Imperial Post Office is after 1 or 1:30 p.m., Lines said. The postal employees are busiest between 9-10:30 a.m. filling the mailboxes.
The Postal Service is offering a free package pickup for priority mail packages to rural route or contract route customers. This does not include post office boxholders.
Lines said a customer who qualifies arranges for a package to be picked up by logging on to usps.com, then choosing “pick up options.” Lines is notified via Internet of the customer’s desire, and alerts the mail carriers to pick up the package.
Another service the Postal Service is offering is a flat price for anything shipped in the flat-rate priority boxes sold by the post office.
The slogan is “If it fits, it ships.” Lines said the price to ship a flat-rate priority box is the same price, “no matter what it weighs or where it goes.”
This means that if you choose the small $4.95 box, the two $10.35 boxes or the large $13.95 box, you can mail up to 70 pounds of goods in them and they will only cost what you paid for the box.
Lines said, “You can save a couple or three dollars, if it’s heavy.”
In addition, those people purchasing the largest box to send a present to an APO or FPO address receive a $2 discount.
The Postal Service is also selling a CD entitled “Letters to Santa” this year. It’s a holiday music collection by legends such as Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles, and costs $9.99.
Lines said the U.S. Postal Service has seen a big decline in card and letter traffic, but a big increase in package traffic, due to increased purchasing over the Internet.
Tips for packaging
Make sure packages are able to withstand processing without the contents or package breaking. Cushion items with bubble wrap, newspaper or foam “peanuts.”
Wrap each item separately when packing more than one in the same box.
Remove batteries from electronic devices and wrap separately.
Mark packages “fragile” in large print on the outside of the box when shipping materials that might be more likely to break.
When re-using a box make sure previous labels or markings are covered.
Mark “perishable” on packages that contain food or other items that can spoil.
Place an extra address label with the delivery and return address inside the package. This ensures the safe return of an item that could not be delivered should the outside label become damaged or fall off.
Always use tape designed for sealing shipping boxes. Do not use string, cellophane or masking tape to seal packages.
Packages can weigh up to 70 pounds and measure up to 130 inches in combined length and width. Make sure the width is measured around the largest point of the package.
Due to security requirements, packages bearing postage stamps that weigh more than 13 ounces must be presented to a retail associate at the post office and cannot be dropped in collection boxes.
The Postal Service is selling several kinds of Christmas stamps this year. One collection features “Winter Holiday,” with a reindeer, snowman, nutcracker and gingerbread man. A new Madonna and Child stamp is also available, as are Hanukkah and Kwanzaa stamps.
Both UPS (United Postal Service) and FedEx will be delivering packages in Imperial Christmas Eve Day.
Larry Crosier of FedEx, based out of North Platte, said questions may be directed to 1-800-GoFedEx.
There is no FedEx drop site in Imperial.
Roger Siebrandt of UPS said packages should be mailed through UPS “at least five days ahead” of Christmas. He said UPS can deliver packages to either coast in four to five days.
Drop sites in Imperial for UPS are at Owens True Value and AACE Car Wash.
Siebrandt said people with questions may contact him at (308) 340-3650.