Going the extra million miles

Mail carrier honored with safety award

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Marshalltown Post Office letter carrier Wesley Woody recently earned the USPS’s Million Mile plaque, signifying he has accumulated “one million miles of driving or 30 accumulated years driven without a preventable incident.” He services a high volume route on Marshalltown’s southside, making 800 stops a day.

Wesley Woody isn’t the type of person who vies for the limelight. He spends his working hours driving a mail truck, making hundreds of stops a day on his route on the southside of Marshalltown. But after 30 years on the job, driving accident-free, Woody has joined an elite few in earning the United States Postal Service’s Million Mile plaque.

The honor “recognizes drivers with one million miles of driving or 30 accumulated years driven without a preventable incident” according to the USPS’s website.

“It’s an incredible feat. He’s really a model employee and a super conscientious worker,” said Steve Nederhoff, steward of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) who helped Woody apply for the award. “It’s so rare to win this award. I’ve personally worked at different Midwest offices, and I’ve never known anyone to achieve that.”

Woody began working at the Marshalltown Post Office in July 1987. Woody, a native of Corydon, Iowa, said when he took the post office exam all those years ago, he earned 99.3 out of a possible 100. Upon being accepted as an employee of the USPS, he was given a choice to go work for one of three postal services, choosing to settle in Marshalltown.

“I didn’t see myself working here for 30 years; back then, 2017 seemed a long way off,” Woody said.

Postal clerks arrive at 3:30 a.m. each day to sort the incoming mail, placing the items in bins, according to route number. Woody and fellow letter carriers then arrive at 7:30 a.m. Woody takes the mail for his route (C20) and again sorts it at his cubicle, this time, by individual address, before loading the mail into his truck. He then hits the road anywhere from 9:30-10 a.m., completing his route in the same sequence each day.

“It takes five to five and a half hours to complete my route,” Woody said. “I deliver about 2,000 pieces of mail each day, making 800 stops. Of course, the amount of mail doubles at Christmas.”

Woody serves a “mounted route,” meaning he requires a vehicle to make deliveries. Most of his stops allow him to deliver the mail curbside directly to people’s mailboxes, although he has to get out of the vehicle to drop off packages, and put mail inside apartment buildings, and he makes the rounds to all of the businesses located inside the Marshalltown Mall. In total, he does 20-25 miles of in-city driving.

“I’ve been on this route since 2006, which is the longest amount of time I’ve been on a route,” Woody said.

His assignment to this particular route has served the Marshalltown Post Office well.

“It’s a high volume route that has seen a lot of growth since he first started,” said Officer in Charge Rob Phillips. “He’s one of our best drivers.”

Woody said there are several elements of the job he finds enjoyable.

“I like being on my own driving, with no one looking over my shoulder for most of my day,” he said. “I like delivering parcels because people are happy to see them, and that unexpected card … I like sorting things — it keeps with my organizing personality.”

He said safety training sessions have helped him expect the unexpected. Challenges he’s faced as a letter carrier include the hazards of inclement weather, construction work and encountering aggressive pets.

Woody plans to retire from the post office later this year.

“This job has helped me raise two daughters and help provide for them,” Woody said. “This award is the best accomplishment.”

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com