News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 8, 2014

Delivering through snow, or ice, or cold …

Tribune-Star carrier goes extra distance to deliver newspapers

TERRE HAUTE — Drifting snow, sub-zero temperatures and a painful wind chill factor couldn’t stop one Tribune-Star carrier — and in particular, her able assistants — from delivering newspapers this week.

On Monday, when the winter weather was at its worst, Vigo County carriers had the discretion to deliver, or not deliver, because of the potentially dangerous conditions. “Safety is first,” said Michelle Poorman, circulation customer service manager.  

But independent contractor Billie Sue Robinson, aided by her boyfriend, Webb Fisher Jr., as well as Fisher’s dad, Webb Sr., got the job done, delivering newspapers in hard-hit northern Vigo County from Old Mill Dam to Sandcut.

She is responsible for three routes with about 145 customers. In fact, it was her boyfriend and his father who did the deliveries Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday, they missed just six homes off Greencastle Road because drifting kept them from getting to the residences. “They did a good job,” Robinson said. Typically, she and her boyfriend deliver.

The Fishers started the route about 10 a.m., using Webb Sr.’s four-wheel drive. They didn’t finish until about 1 p.m.

“Once we got going, we couldn’t stop,” Webb Jr. said. “It was actually kind of fun.”

As Robinson put it, “They are daredevils.”

Webb Jr. likened it to “driving through the tundra.” It was just them — and the squirrels running over the hardened snow … and a few birds flying overhead.

He was surprised by the amount of snow. “They said 12 inches, I figured 5 inches. It blew my mind when I woke up [Monday] morning,” Webb Jr. said.

His younger brother, 12-year-old William, also went along for the ride that day and helped out.

On Tuesday, they started the routes about 2 a.m. and finished about 5 a.m.

Customer Richard Scarbrough, who lives on East Rio Grande Avenue, was impressed by Fishers’ efforts.

He lives 300 feet off the road and has a horseshoe driveway. On Monday, when the Fishers delivered, they got stuck because of drifting, and Scarbrough called a neighbor to get them back on the delivery trail.

On Monday and Tuesday, “I thought it was impossible they could go in and out of my driveway, but they did,” Scarbrough said.

He has a newspaper box on his back deck.

Scarbrough made a point to call the newspaper circulation office to praise their efforts; they do their work so early in the morning, “I’ve never met them,” he said.

It’s important to Robinson and Webb Jr. to serve customers, and on time. “We don’t like to have a mad customer,” he said.

Many people like their paper early and on time, Robinson said. She enjoys delivering papers and ensuring her customers get good service.

B.J. Riley, Tribune-Star publisher, acknowledged the dedication of newspaper carriers and those who assist them.

“I am pleased and amazed at the level of dedication of carriers such as Billie Sue and the carrier who delivers my paper, Nancy Domke,” Riley said. “I hope our subscribers realize how hard these folks work, seven days a week, to deliver the Tribune-Star. I am very proud of their efforts, especially when they face challenges like we have had the past few days.”

Poorman extends praise to them and all carriers who made the effort in the Arctic Blast of 2014. “I think anyone who went out there and attempted [to deliver the paper] did an awesome job and should have all the praise,” she said.

 In her many years working in circulation, Poorman said she’s dealt with extreme cold and a lot of snow, but not this week’s combination of intense, sub-zero temperatures and significant amounts of drifting snow.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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