Mail routed through capital

Published 3:01 pm Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Could you explain why our mail in Farmville goes to Richmond to be processed even though the recipient is in Farmville?

All postal mail sent from Central Virginia is processed through the Richmond Processing & Distribution Center (P&DC) in Sandston, according to officials with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

Email newsletter signup

According to USPS spokeswoman Freda Sauter, mail has been processed from the Farmville Post Office to the Sandston facility for years.

“Many local post offices do not have the size to fit the equipment needed to cancel and sort mail efficiently,” she said. “The mail is therefore sent to mail processing plants to be sorted, canceled and delivered. All processing plants also have Biohazard Detection Systems (BDS) to protect the mail.”

Farmville Postmistress Carla Dallas said Farmville doesn’t sort mail for delivery.

“What happens is we collect the mail here,” Dallas said. “We don’t sort it, really, by where it’s going because … everybody’s mail everywhere now goes to a P&DC. Ours just happens to be in Sandston.”

Once the mail gets to Sandston, Dallas said the mail is cancelled and processed and organized in what is known as Delivery Point Sequence (DPS) order.

“So, what it does, it kind of cuts down on a lot of the handling and the manpower here, where we’d be handling each piece for however (many) minutes a day, the DPS machines can process 25,000 pieces (of mail) an hour,” Dallas said. “It can put it right in order for the carrier, and minimize how much we’ve actually got to stand around (and say) ‘That goes to city one, and that goes to rural one and this goes to city three.’”

The process, she said, is a matter of the P&DC “cutting down on errors, human error, as well as making the whole process a little more efficient.”

Sauter said when a piece of mail is collected for delivery at the Farmville Post Office, the letter or correspondence are collected by other postal carriers, placed on a truck and taken to Richmond.

The Richmond P&DC “efficiently processes hundreds of thousands of letters, cards and packages daily,” Sauter said.

Unlike post offices, mail processing plants are equipped with BDS to detect the presence of anthrax, she added.

Ideally, Dallas said, if someone sends a letter or postal mail from Farmville to someone in Farmville, it could be in their mailbox the next day.

She said generally what happens is “everything that comes in today goes to the plant for cancellation before midnight tonight. And then they’ll process it. If it’s first class, they’ll try to get it in processing tomorrow and back to us.”

Some days are different, she said, noting mail volume “when you have holidays or we’re coming off of a holiday, it might be 2-3 (days).”

“Facilities that support postal retail and delivery operations are located in virtually every community throughout the country,” Richmond In-Plant Support Manager Jennifer Szabo said. “The larger facilities, such as Richmond P&DC, primarily support mail processing operations. The incoming and outgoing mail goes through (various) operations in order to assist the mail to the post office from which it will be delivered.”