As I was saying....Where did summer go?

It’s almost time to work up our 2021 Fall Sports posters (we include football, band, volleyball, fall tennis, cross country, cheerleaders, twirlers, flag lines and drill teams) for two of our area schools. Suzanne works very hard every year to top the previous year’s revenue and I expect she will do the same this year.
And no – you can’t borrow her to sell yours.
As always, I will have to wrangle with our local head football coaches over how early we can have photo day — and start work on our fall sports tabs. Our posters – two-foot by three-foot – always have the current group photos. We don’t do like those out-of-town companies do and throw in last year’s action photos so they can get the poster out early.
Nope, we wait until the last minute for new team photos and then rush it off to the plant and cross our fingers we get posters back before the first game.
So far, we have managed to get it all done on time. But like many of you, I always fret about it until the UPS truck pulls up with the posters.
Thanks, Randy Mankin, for letting me steal your idea seven years ago. It really helps our bottom line each year.
As I write this column, Suzanne and I are preparing to attend the Panhandle Press Association and South Texas Press Association summer conventions. I am confident we will have a lot of fun and I look forward to reporting on both conventions in the September TPA Messenger. And I invite you to join the Texas delegation headed to Jacksonville, Florida, at the end of September for the NNA convention. Then you might consider sneaking off with Suzanne and me to nearby Walt Disney World for its 50th Anniversary celebration.
As I’ve written before, I encourage everyone to get involved in their regional press associations. They are vital to a healthy state press association, and Texas is lucky to have five. The people you will meet at regional conventions are the heart and soul of journalism in Texas. They are the ones in the newspaper trenches day-in and day-out and they are the ones who will become your life-long friends and mentors in this business.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but long-time friends Susan and John Reeves closed the doors to the Mount Vernon Optic-Herald in July. The Mount Vernon Optic-Herald has been in operation since 1874, which made it the oldest continually operating business in Franklin County. Susan told me she tried to find a buyer to keep the paper going, but it just didn’t happen. Suzanne and I even looked at it so we wouldn’t lose another hometown paper, but Mount Vernon was just a little too far away for us.
And get this: Kilgore College just did away with its nationally recognized journalism program. It was quite a surprise to us, since Kilgore College produced some of the best reporters, photographers and graphic design people in our part of the state. A number of East Texas newspaper publishers hired many of them over the years. Apparently, it was a numbers game – too few hard-working, talented students – and journalism lost out. It would have been nice if the president of the college had let us know a month ago when we were invited to a special workshop on how the college can better serve our area. Especially when I was praising the college’s journalism program and the students it produced.
So please check with your local community college and see if they still have a journalism program. Don’t get blindsided like we did. And please help us find buyers for newspapers on the market. They are the heart of hometowns.
I assume everyone has been keeping up with the Postal Service and all the changes on the horizon. The NNA has been hard at work trying to keep future mailing cost increases low.
Basically, it appears prices are going up and services are being cut. Now that’s a great business model.
This past week I read the latest survey on how folks feel about the USPS and frankly, I wasn’t surprised at the findings.
According to the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service —an organization of public and private companies, trade associations and other industry groups like TPA which rely on the U.S. Postal Service to do business— the results of a national survey indicated that the overwhelming majority of the American public would oppose USPS actions to deprioritize mail service.
The survey, conducted by Bellwether Citizen Response from May 31 to June 15, used a nationally representative, statistically valid sample of over 2,000 respondents. It showed that the majority of the American public (76%) strongly believes the USPS should place equal importance on the delivery of regular mail and packages — a stark contrast with USPS’ move to prioritize package delivery over mail delivery by raising mail postage and slowing mail services. In addition, the overwhelming majority of Americans (77%) have little-to-no awareness of the upcoming postage increases due to take effect Aug. 29, and if rates increase, two-thirds (65%) of respondents will consider shifting their communications from USPS mail to online.
Moreover, if delivery times slow, nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) will consider shifting their business communications from USPS mail to online. In addition, the survey results imply that public satisfaction with USPS could be waning. While 68% of Americans report strong overall satisfaction with USPS service, that number represents a huge decline from a Postal Service Inspector General survey conducted in October 2020 and released in April 2021 which found that 91% of respondents held a positive opinion of USPS. 
I am happy to report that in East Texas, newspaper mail delivery has improved a little. I have been working with the USPS’ Shreveport regional manager. He has solved several issues we had and we are getting papers to our customers on time. We are even making some headway with the Dallas-area regional USPS center. My Gladewater paper that took three weeks to go 30 miles now only takes seven days. That paper is dropped off at Gladewater, then goes to Shreveport, where it is then shipped to the Dallas area facility, then returned to East Texas.
FYI - I got Mary and Murray Judson’s July 8 Port Aransas South Jetty paper on July 12. That’s 419 miles in less than a week. That’s a marked improvement.
So, there is hope, folks.