If you are a mail subscriber to the Independent, you have likely been missing recent issues of the paper or received them late. What we can tell you is: we have mailed them on time as always, but the U.S. Postal Service outside of Belmond is not doing its job.

   We appreciate your frustrated phone calls. Be assured that we are frustrated, too. But what the Postal Service does is out of our control. There seems to be a bottomless pit in the Des Moines mail sorting center, and newspapers are falling into it. Postal workers themselves joke about "the black hole" in Des Moines. But nothing is ever done about it.

   In the past few weeks, we have seen it take 18 days for a newspaper to go from Humboldt to Belmond, Eagle Grove to Belmond, and Story City to Belmond. All of these towns are fewer than 50 miles from us. Heck, we could walk to those towns and back in fewer than 18 days. Imagine how long it is taking for newspapers to get to Arizona and Texas.

   There are reports of parcels being stuck for days in postal facilities in Maryland and Ohio. We had a package sit for three days in Waterloo. We never received our Des Moines daily newspaper three days this past week.

   Last week, the newspapers from Belmond to Alexander -- ten miles away -- got lost in the system.

   We are hopeful that once Christmas has come and gone, the mail service will get back to its normal slow pace -- as compared to the standstill it's in right now. Please be patient and keep track of missing papers. Once the logjam has cleared in January, let us know if you are missing any issues.

   On a side note, we wrote to both of our U.S. Senators about poor mail service. The Postal Service has gotten worse since changes put into place by President Trump's latest appointee. As you may know, President Trump is not a supporter of the Postal Service.

   Senator Grassley replied to our message with a form letter he wrote over 18 months ago that had nothing to do with our concerns.

   Senator Ernst sent no reply at all.

   If our elected officials were actually getting something done in Washington with a Coronavirus relief bill, we would give them the benefit of the doubt. But as usual, Congress is stalled and can't agree on anything. They are doing nothing about our current economic situation, they are doing nothing about the Postal Service, and they are doing nothing to listen to their constituents.