Sevierville disabled veteran forced to move mailbox half mile away

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – A disabled veteran in Sevierville is faced with a new hardship. He was told six days ago the mailbox in front of his home has to be moved half a mile away. The postmaster says there are pot holes in the road leading to the veteran’s house.

While the U.S. Postal Service has no official motto, many people are familiar with this phrase: “Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds.” Some residents in Sevierville are ready to add an addendum to the phrase that goes like this: “Potholes will keep our postman from his appointed rounds.”

Every day for the last 20 years, disabled veteran Curtis Rumbaugh has walked down the ramp in front of his home in Sevierville. With a cane for support, he slowly made his way about 30 feet down the driveway to his mailbox. Last week the post office ordered him to relocate the box. The new site marked by green flags is seven tenths of a mile from his home.

The Postmaster’s letter gave Rumbaugh until February 15 to accomplish the job.

“The reason for the move is due to the lack of gravel, large potholes, overall deplorable road conditions,” said Rumbaugh.

The road leading to Rumbuagh’s home and others does have potholes and there is broken pavement. Rumbaugh says a new carrier started delivering mail to his home a few weeks ago. He says the man who delivered mail here for years never complained about the road.

The new site marked by green flags is seven tenths of a mile from his home.
The new site marked by green flags is seven tenths of a mile from his home.

“It was good enough for the mailman for the past 20-some odd years and now all of a sudden it’s not,” he said.

The postmaster’s letter says the road is “dangerous” for the postal carrier so a change is necessary.

“The problem with him slipping and falling – he doesn’t get out of his vehicle. He pulls up to the mailbox and sticks it in. How is he going to slip and fall?” asked Rumbaugh.

When the postmaster at the Sevierville office laid out the new spot for 11 mailboxes, Rumbaugh said the location is dangerous because there’s a curve in the road. There’s also a blind spot for people who will be stopping to get their mail.
Because of his disability, the VA sends some medications by certified mail so Rumbaugh has to sign for them under VA rules. Getting to and from that new mailbox site will be pretty complicated.

“Drive down the road, go down pick them up. Get out of the vehicle walk around again pick up the medicine, go back into the vehicle, come back up, get out and come back in again. It’s a lot of hassle,” he said.

“There is 11 of us total that received that letter,” said Rob Durham, Rumbaugh’s neighbor. He, too, will have to move his mailbox and is not happy. “Rural roads with pot holes in them, if they wouldn’t deliver to those half of America wouldn’t get their mail.”

Curtis Rumbaugh
Curtis Rumbaugh

The postmaster in Sevierville says if residents are concerned and have issues about the new mail delivery site to contact him.

“One person tried six hours yesterday to reach his phone number. It was busy constantly,” said Rumbaugh.

The delivery of his medications worries Rumbaugh. It’s not easy for him to get along without them.

“They still have to come up here for the medications because I still have to sign for them,” he said.

In an email to WATE 6 On Your Side, the postal service says it is no longer able to make deliveries on Rumbaugh’s road due to hazardous conditions for its carrier. However if the road is repaired and maintained properly, then it would consider resuming delivery.

Rumbaugh doesn’t want his mailbox moved at all. “It needs to stay right where it is at. It’s ridiculous.”

The postal service said in its message that they apologize for any inconvenience to their customers but are looking out for the safety of their letter carriers. Rumbaugh and Durham wonder if the postal service realizes how dangerous the new mailbox site is going to be, as it’s located on a blind turn with no place to park.

Despite Rumbaugh’s disability he still has a sense of independence, but he is worried about his safety when he tries to pick up his mail on that dangerous curve. Those new boxes have to be up in five days when the post office in Devierville will stop delivering mail individually to those 11 homes.

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