Retired couple grateful USPS reversed decision in mailbox dispute

Investigations

A retired East Tennessee couple is grateful to the U.S. Postal Service, now, after it agreed to deliver letters and parcels to the couple’s new mailbox just in front of their home instead of 900 feet away on the rural road. 

Originally, a local post office refused to deliver mail to their box, as the couple was first told it’s too “inconvenient” for the mail truck to go up their driveway. 

For homes in older neighborhoods, only 28% still receive mail delivered to their door, according to the U.S. Postal Service. 

In newer neighborhoods, mail is delivered to a street-side mailbox or cluster of mailboxes. 

But “exceptions” are sometimes granted to the disabled, which is why the Boones recently installed a new mailbox.

Jo Stephens is Bill Boone’s caregiver. 

Ten years ago, he suffered a stroke and is paralyzed. Mr. Boone is a retired U.S. Army Colonel. He and his wife, Nancy, she’s also disabled, returned to Knoxville 16 years ago after serving at the Pentagon. 

They live on a rural road. However, their mailbox is a long distance from their front door. The gravel driveway to the their home is about 900 feet long. Neither Bill nor Nancy can get to the street side mailbox. 

After dealing with stolen mail and having to wait an extra day to receive their mail when Jo can bring it to them, they made a change. 

Because of their disabilities, the couple went to their local post office where they asked for a waiver to have letters delivered to a new box closer to their home.   

“They told us if we took down the mailbox and put a mailbox outside so they can turn and get it here to the home, that would be efficient,” says Nancy Boone. 

There is a large driveway next to their home wide enough for a mail truck to turn. Believing the waiver would be granted, they had a new mailbox professionally installed. 

“Well the postal service has not arrived to physically inspect our work,” says Jo, adding that the installation of the box follows postal guidelines to the tee.

“It is at regulation height which is 45 inches. It’s all U.S. approved equipment. All US Mail Approved. The driveway plenty wide, three bays. Nice big pad here to turn around. In the late afternoon when the mail is delivered, she has no help in the house,” she explained.

But early last month, the Boones’ request to have letters delivered to the new mailbox was turned down.

“They denied us because they said our daughter can bring the mail to us,” said Nancy Boone. 

Their daughter is disabled as well. 

“She too is a stroke survivor and she has lost part of her vision. So she no longer drives. This gentleman, Colonel Boone, gave to us as Americans. Thirty five years in a uniform. He’s asking for 900 feet of security,” says Jo. 

When WATE 6 On Your Side visited last month, a postal carrier unexpectedly drove up the Boones’ driveway.

While delivering a package she also handed over the couple’s mail. We mentioned the delivery when 6 On Your Side wrote to the post office on behalf of the couple. 

The response from the postal service was quick.

“We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience they have experienced. Service will begin to their mailbox at the new location.”

“Within days we got a message back that we had been approved and the mail would be delivered,” says Nancy Boone. “This has made a big difference now. When I see what is coming, I don’t have to worry. I just go out and get it.”

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