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SOME MAILBOXES DELIVER GRIEF TO CARRIERS

Some Utah residents have curbside mailboxes that make it difficult, time-consuming and sometimes injurious for carriers to deliver the mail.

And Kent Jensen, a Salt Lake postal official, has asked carriers to encourage customers with such boxes to get a new box to ensure continued mail delivery.Jensen, manager of operations program support, recently requested that postmasters talk to carriers, asking them to encourage their customers to get a different box if the one they have is difficult to use.

Beverly Burge, customer-relations coordinator for the Salt Lake post office, said Monday she believes the problem is limited.

Val Zufelt, Layton postmaster, said the Layton post office serves about 60 customers with "unauthorized, problem mailboxes."

He said it's fine if residents have fashioned traditional mailboxes into a cow, duck or some other whimsical shape. But he said that some of the nontraditional designs have created problems, including making it difficult to keep the mail dry when it's stormy.

"It is awkward to get the mail down into them," said Layton postal carrier Julene Nelson. "You have to use both hands," said Nelson, whose hand was slightly injured when she tried to deliver mail at one residence.

A Kaysville woman was quoted in an Associated Press story as saying that she paid $295 for her ornate mailbox and is not about to discontinue using it.

"They have increased the price I pay for a stamp, which I would think would increase my service," she said.

Burge said she hopes the public doesn't interpret Postal Service officials' statements about mailboxes as representing a bigger problem than it is.

"It makes us look heavy-handed. We are not out checking mailboxes. If they don't meet the size standards but are still set up as easy and safe to use, they are fine. We see creative mailboxes everywhere and think they are great," Burge said, noting that some are shaped, for example, like school buses or a church.

She said local post offices are willing to talk to customers with questions about building or purchasing a mailbox.