by Geoff Fox
On October 5, 1963, the Hancock community gathered along Pennsylvania Avenue as Maude Shives, who was the Postmaster at the time, welcomed everyone to the opening of Hancock’s new post office building.
Now, Paula McCusker is the one behind the counter as Postmaster.
McCusker said there are 14 people working at the Hancock Post Office – 10 carriers, two clerks, herself, and a custodian.
“We’re pretty functional, we have a good team,” she said. “Everybody works together.”
That number is one more than how many were working for the Post Office when it opened 60 years ago.
According to the Dedication Ceremony program, there were 13 people working in Hancock – Shives as Postmaster, Margaret A. Stotler as Assistant to the Postmaster, Claude M. Smith and Ruth E. Russell as clerks, Helen J. Kirk as a substitute clerk, Emory H. Fleegle as a temporary substitute clerk, Frederick C. Vantz as a carrier, Gary F. Breakall as a substitute carrier, Marion L. Courtney and Roy L. Ingram as rural carriers, Warren B. Robey and James H. Eddy as substitute rural carriers, and John W. Dyer as Mail Messenger.
Since opening on Pennsylvania Avenue, there have been a number of Postmasters or Officer-In-Charge – Shives, Stotler, Vantz, William Alvey (OIC), Breakall, Wayne Bridges (OIC), James Hessong (OIC), Mike Suder, Daniel Moore, Charles Weaver, and McCusker.
According to the USPS website Vantz, Moore, Weaver, and McCusker were named OIC before becoming Postmaster.
On a daily basis, residents would be surprised by how much mail comes through the Hancock Post office.
McCusker said there are usually an average of about 300 parcels and about 4,000 pieces, and 100 pieces of raw mail and 300 to 400 flats.
There are also box holders which are like coupon envelopes and flyers that go to all postal customer mailboxes, which average to about 1,000 pieces of mail. “So we get a good amount of volume,” McCusker said. From start to finish, it takes the larger routes eight to nine hours to sort, deliver the mail, and end their day. In the 60 years since Hancock’ s post office opened at its current location, things have changed in the postal service.
McCusker said the postal service used to be letter delivery and flats, like magazines. But now, they’ve moved more to delivering parcels.
Technology has also changed the way things go in the post office.
When McCusker first started working at the United States Post Office, she said it was a manual process. Then, she added, it went to computers, scanners, and eventually Amazon.
“And now we’ve become more of a parcel company delivery than we do letters and flats,” she said.
With the Post Office delivering Amazon, there are now Sunday deliveries for those packages.
The hub for the Post Office is in Williamsport. Local carriers drive there to pick up the packages and then come back to Hancock to deliver packages.
With Hancock being a small community, there’s more interaction with the customers and residents getting to know the carriers or clerks.
“If you know the person, you know their needs,” McCusker said. “It’s comfortable. I think that is something that’s good for the town and us.”
McCusker said when she came to Hancock a few years ago after being the Postmaster in Little Orleans, the town and employees made the transition easy for her.
There was a time when the Postmaster had to live in the town they were working so they knew the town itself, which is what McCusker did when she was working in Little Orleans.
“I was just like they were, so I understood their needs and tried to fulfill them,” she said. “That’s what I do here.”
McCusker noted people have different needs, so “hopefully we get along.”
While she was in Little Orleans, there were discussions to close that post office and have everything come through another.
McCusker said the Little Orleans office is still open, but only for four hours a day from 11:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
It is considered an RMPO office, or a Remotely Managed Post Office.
It does everything the Hancock office does, except the hours and the routes for that area are now through Hancock.
The general delivery mail goes out with the carrier on her route, McCusker said, and then either the carrier or clerk brings the mail back to Hancock in the evening.
McCusker said having the operation still in the Orleans is a good thing for that community due to the distances from Hancock and Flintstone being 30 miles.
“For the older people, they almost have to have something there,” she said.
Future of Post Office is a 10-year plan
In April, the United States Postal Service released a progress report on its 10-year plan called Delivering for America.
The plan is to return the organization to financial sustainability and achieve service excellence while maintaining universal six-day delivery and expanding seven-day package delivery.
As the USPS enters the third year of the DF A plan, Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Louis DeJoy said there is a new energy and vibrancy in the USPS.
“As I travel the nation meeting with the great men and women of the Postal Service, it is clear the investments we are making are paying off – and it is showing through our improved delivery for the American people and our business customers,” he said in a press release. “The progress we’ve made in the last two years demonstrates that our plan is realistic and achievable. We’re just getting started.”
Mark Wahl, Strategic Communications Specialist for the USPS in Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia, sent the release to The Hancock News.
The Delivering for America plan was published March 23, 2021, to transform the Postal Service from an organization in financial and operational crisis to one that is self-sustaining and high performing.
Thus the two years since, the USPS has aggressively advanced core strategies and initiatives.
There have been a number of two-year milestones since the launch of the USPS’ 10-year plan. Operational excellence is the USPS focus on becoming high-performing and the plan hopes to position the agency to financially break even over the next 10 years despite inflation.
Other goals include fostering service excellence for the American people; converting 125,000 employees to full time positions; modernizing the delivery and processing network with six new sorting and delivery centers in Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, New Y ork, and T exas, and new regional processing and distribution centers under way in Georgia, Virginia, Texas, North Carolina, California, Oregon, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, and Idaho, with about 60 more expected to open across the country in coming years.
The postal service aims to increase daily package processing capacity to 60 million; and updating and electrifying the nation’s largest and oldest federal fleet.
All of those goals come amid major competition in the package delivery market, and taxpayer expectations for the same reliable, timely delivery the post office has offered as the U.S. Postal Service and United States Post Office Department over the nation’s history.