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Area mail carriers cited for 1 million accident-free miles

The Oskaloosa Independent of Oskaloosa, Kansas

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Two rural mail carriers who begin their day at the Valley Falls Post Office have been cited for rolling 1 million accident-free miles.

Bonita "Sid" Clark, Valley Falls, and Dennis Wenzl, Effingham, were each presented with a walnut plaque and a tie tack, a $50 gift certificate, and a letter of appreciation by Postmaster Ruth Atzenweiler.

The plaque recognizing the million miles is an award from the National Safety Council.

"The U.S. Postal Service is proud of its safety record and equally proud of postal employees who daily provide excellent customer service, while safeguarding themselves and the neighborhoods they serve," Postmaster Ruth Atzenweiler said. "The National Safety Council Million Mile Club recognizes employees who are dedicated and committed to safe working and driving practices."

Wenzl began delivering mail in 1978 and went full time in 1985. His daily route out of Effingham is 125 miles and his mileage increased to 155 after consolidating area routes out of Valley Falls.

Clark began as a substitute carrier for Keith Jackson at Valley Falls back in 1984 and then was a substitute for Charles Foley out of Nortonville in 1990. She began running the 120-mile Nortonville route full time in 1993.

Both deliver mail for the post office box sections to their respective post offices from Valley Falls. Wenzl includes Muscotah along with Effingham and Clark delivers Nortonville.

Both said they like their job — a great job so long as the weather is decent. The extreme heat and dust some summers and the blowing snow some winters are the primary drawbacks.

"It's the people who make it great," Clark said. "There are people on my route I used to give Tootsie Rolls to when they were children and now they have kids."

Wenzl is more likely to have a cookie to hand out and that has made him a hero with more than one dog on the route.

"I've got one dog that I have a hard time keeping out of my Jeep," he said.

Both carriers expressed appreciation for the help they receive on the route if they break down or face stormy weather.

"They look out for me," Clark said.

"If the snow is blowing, farmers will call each other and ask if I've been by yet," she said.

The mail carriers look after their customers, too. There have been a couple of times they've each witnessed suspicious activity in rural areas and either called the sheriff or the homeowner to alert them. Cell phones have become an added safety measure.

Wenzl, 59, has been through seven or eight vehicles to tally those million miles. He currently drives a Jeep Cherokee with 370,000 miles on it.

"The transmission has been replaced and it's had several brake jobs," he said.

Clark has had six Ford Rangers and relies on three of them now. If one breaks down or needs service she has two more ready to go.

Wenzl and his wife, Brenda, have two sons and two step grandchildren.

Clark and her husband, D.D., have three children and seven grandchildren.

Close to 350,000 letter carriers and truck drivers log more than 1 billion miles annually when delivering to America's more than 152 million addresses, Atzenweiler reported.

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Original Publication Date: October 8, 2015

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