Letter to the Editor

Dear editor,

First and foremost, I believe I can speak for the residents of Smith Templeton Road, by stating how very grateful we all are to the Catoosa County Commissioners, the Catoosa County Road Department and the State of Georgia for the recent paving of said road.

The road has long been a county road, maintained by the road department, by grading, cleaning ditches and placing gravel on the road. The residents were very pleased when we read in the Catoosa County News that the road was scheduled to be paved.

Talley Paving did an excellent job of paving the road, and the road department has been out several times to observe the road after heavy rains, to verify that the road is draining properly.

Also, a big thank-you to the fire chief of Catoosa County, who sent his deputy chief out last week along with a fire truck/first responders to inspect Smith Templeton Road for accessibility in case of a fire or an emergency. Thank you, Catoosa County!!!

Secondly, I would like to address the following:

There are a total of eight residences on Smith Templeton Road, and the mail has always been delivered to the mailboxes at the end of Smith Templeton where it joins Beaumont Road, as the post office would not deliver on a gravel road (not to my knowledge).

As a resident of said road, I spoke with Postmaster, Jim Ward, at the post office in Ringgold, about re-locating the mailboxes adjacent to the residences on said road. (One lady is sixty-eight years old and has a heart condition, and she has to walk a quarter of a mile one way to check her mail. The road is steep and winding.)

The form for extension of mail delivery to a rural road was obtained and returned to the postmaster, and it was explained to me that he would have to verify that the road was indeed a county road, that the road was listed on the 911 maps, as well as the fact that he would have to physically view the road himself to make sure it was wide enough for the carrier's vehicle, and to verify the overall safety of Smith Templeton Road for the mail carrier.

Over a week had passed since the request was given to Mr. Ward, and I had not heard anything from him. I made a phone call to Mr. Ward on August 15, inquiring as to the status of the request to move the mailboxes, and was informed that the extension to move the mailboxes nearer to the homes would not be granted.

The postmaster had made the decision that the road is unsafe; without enough pull-offs if another vehicle is met, due to the width of the road, and he also mentioned the ditches that run alongside the road (for water runoff).

I spoke with him about the driveways adjoining the road, and he stated the carriers are not allowed to back out onto a main road, but he did not address the fact that if the carrier had to pull into a driveway they could easily turn around in the parking area of a residence without having to back out onto Smith Templeton.

Mr. Ward also explained to me that there are guidelines that are to be adhered to when decisions are made about extending rural mail delivery to a resident, or as in this case, eight residences.

While I do understand that the U.S. Postal Service has guidelines in place for the safety of their carriers; I do not believe that safety is an issue for Smith Templeton Road. I believe the postmaster has made a decision that is detrimental to the residents of said road, especially to the sixty-eight year old senior citizen with a heart condition who has to walk a quarter mile just to check her mail.

I do intend to follow up with Mr. Ward's manager, Larry Jones, manager of Post Office Operations. Mr. Ward was not willing to give me the phone number for Mr. Jones stating that he is difficult to reach by phone and that he (Mr. Ward) would be sending him an e-mail along with mailing a letter to me informing me of his decision and with copies of the pictures that were taken which were used to assist in the decision making process for not approving Smith Templeton Road for extension of rural mail delivery.

As a tax paying citizen; I am thankful for our mail service and the carriers who work hard to deliver the mail. I would just like to state that each time a postal vehicle is pulled over on the side of a main artery, such as Mt. Pisgah Rd., delivering mail, they are endangering every driver/vehicle which encounters them while they are stopped on the side of the road, as we have to either stop, go around the postal vehicle if safe to do so, or if we do start around them we have to be careful as one never knows when said vehicle is going to pull out in front of us and cause an accident.

Please, Postmaster Ward, explain to me how Smith Templeton Road is a danger to your carriers, when we take our lives into our own hands every time we approach your postal carriers from behind, while using due caution as required by law?

Renae Smith, Ringgold