It's a common holiday problem. You have a package that needs to be mailed. But how do you get away from work in time to mail it?
A new automated mailing center at the Brainerd Post Office is designed to be a stress reliever and may be showing up at the most opportune time.
Brainerd Postmaster Warren McQuay said the idea is to give postal customers more time and convenience. The automated center is available until 10 p.m. daily. It uses credit cards or debit cards to pay to mail items or to buy stamps.
Customers place items on the scale and use a touch screen to answer questions about the packages contents and to make choices for mailing -- regular mail delivery, Priority Mail or Express Mail. Customers may insure packages or choose to receive delivery confirmation.
The mailing prices are the same as those at the post office counter.
"This is the best thing," said postal customer Doretta Busbey. Following a quick demonstration earlier in the week, Busbey already was sending multiple packages. She is an avid user of eBay, buying and selling. Even with no line to wait in at the counter Wednesday, Busbey headed directly for the automated center.
"I love this thing," she said. "I came in yesterday and did three packages all by myself. I'm even getting fast. I'm a big fan. I tell everyone I see."
But for those who have enough conversations with computers and who are looking for personal service from human counterparts, the counter is just a few paces away.
Famous Dave's is aggressively pursuing a Baxter site.
Ron Strychar, general manager, said the restaurant will be open for seasonal hours -- starting at 11 a.m. Thursdays through Sundays -- in Crosslake through the winter this year. Last year the restaurant closed for the winter. The restaurant will be on limited hours through April and then back to full-time hours for the summer, but they are still working on catering projects during the entire week.
Strychar said the restaurant is close to an announcement on a Baxter site. Either way he said the Famous Dave's in Crosslake will be open next year. A Famous Dave's in Baxter could be a reality as early as 2005. More details are expected by the year's end.
Speaking of year's end, a decision on a possible retrofit to stadium seating at the Movies 10 at Westgate may be forthcoming before 2005 as well.
Brian Trask was named vice president of operations at Wausau Paper's Brainerd mill and will serve as top manager there. Trask was the paper mill manager in Wausau's Groveton, N.H., mill and has been the startup manager in Brainerd. A ceremony to rededicate the Brainerd paper mill is set Dec. 7 with Gov. Tim Pawlenty expected to attend.
Homeowners Resource, which has been in business for more than two years with home improvement products and services, added more than 16 people to its staff in the last several months. The main office is in Garrison. New staff members -- two salespeople, 14 canvassers and a new installation crew -- are based in Brainerd, Crosby, Aitkin and a few in Little Falls. A traveling construction crew is based in Milaca. With the additional people, the business now employs 33 people.
Business owners and managers may be randomly selected to participate in a Minnesota Small Business Development Center statewide survey. The survey is being conducted to identify the challenges and critical needs of small businesses in the state.
About 3,300 companies will be contacted by e-mail and asked to complete an online business survey. But companies not contacted can still participate by filling out an online questionnaire at http://client.surveystandard.com/Invite.asp?S=299242.
RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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