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Annette Kockler

Annette Kockler

BANCROFT | Annette Kockler, 83, of Bancroft, died Tuesday at Kossuth Regional Health Center, Algona under the care of Hospice of the Heartland.

A funeral Mass for Annette will be held on Thursday at 10:30 AM at St. John's Catholic Church, Bancroft. Burial will be in St. John's Catholic Cemetery.

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 PM on today (Wednesday) at Oakcrest Funeral Services of Bancroft with a rosary beginning at 4 PM and a Scripture Prayer Service beginning at 7 PM.

Postal Service: Red ink for 11th year in row as mail slumps

WASHINGTON — The beleaguered U.S. Postal Service reported a financial loss Tuesday for the 11th straight year, citing declining mail volume and costs of its pension and health care obligations even as it predicted another strong holiday season of package deliveries.

It pleaded for more freedom to raise stamp prices to help keep pace with consumer demand for ever-quicker deliveries from online shopping.

Without help, "our financial results will continue to deteriorate and likely at an accelerated rate," said Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan. "We cannot generate enough revenue or cut enough costs to pay all of our bills."

The Postal Service reported a loss of $2.7 billion for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. That was better than a $5.6 billion loss in the prior year but was mainly due to fluctuations in interest rates that reduced workers' compensation expenses.

The 2017 loss came after a double-digit increase in package delivery was unable to offset drop-offs in letter mail, which makes up more than 70 percent of total postal revenue. Mail volume fell by roughly 5 billion pieces, or 3.6 percent, as people in the digital age rely more on email for online bill payments.

Revenue came to $69.6 billion, down from $71.5 billion last year.

The Postal Regulatory Commission will issue a decision in the coming weeks that could give the Postal Service more flexibility to raise prices beyond the rate of inflation, marking the biggest change in its pricing system in nearly a half-century. The commission might limit how high prices could go, but the cost of a first-class stamp could jump. It's not known by how much.

The price of a first-class stamp, now 49 cents, is slated to increase by one penny in January because of inflation.

The Postal Service, an independent agency, is trying to stay financially afloat as it seeks to invest billions in new delivery trucks to get packages more nimbly to American homes.

With the holiday season approaching, Brennan said, the Postal Service added hours to include early morning and evening package deliveries and was expanding service on Sundays. More recently, it began a pilot program this holiday season to provide cheap next-day service with packages delivered Sundays to people's homes.

"The Postal Service continues to win e-commerce customers, grow our package delivery business and increase market share," Brennan said, attributing its strength in part to affordable pricing compared to rivals UPS and FedEx. "No other shipper delivers as many e-commerce packages to the home."

Analysts have cheered the Postal Service's promise in the digital age. Still, its parcel success hasn't translated to profits.

To become financially stable, the Postal Service is also urging Congress to provide it relief from the mandate to prefund retiree health benefits. Legislation in 2006 required the Postal Service to fund 75 years' worth of retiree health benefits, something that neither the government nor private companies are required to do.

To avert bankruptcy, the post office has defaulted on the multibillion-dollar health prepayments each year since 2012.

"These numbers are beyond troubling," said Art Sackler, manager of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, a broad trade group that includes mailers such as Amazon and the National Retail Federation. "There are 7.5 million private sector jobs that depend on the postal system, and these jobs are at risk unless Congress takes action on postal reform."

Gwen Schmidt

Gwen Schmidt

February 9, 1922 - November 13, 2017

Gwen Schmidt went to be with the Lord November 13, 2017 at the age of 95.

Visitation will be held on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Hauser Funeral Home in Charles City, IA. A celebration of life will be held on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. at Hauser Funeral Home with a luncheon to follow at The Bridge church in Charles City. Burial will be at Flood Creek Cemetery near Rockford, Iowa.

Gwendolyn Jean (Wentworth) Schmidt was born on February 9, 1922 in Spirit Lake, Idaho. At the age of five, her parents (James and Martha (Frink) Wentworth) moved back to their hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. During World War II she worked at a dental office in Cedar Rapids. She met her husband, Robert Schmidt, after writing to him at the end of the war at the request of a couple mutual friends and family members. Bob and Gwen married in Cedar Rapids on November 13, 1948. Monday marked their 69th anniversary. Once married, they lived in Charles City before settling outside of Rockford, Iowa on a farm. It was there that they raised two children, Jeanne (Schmidt) Regier and Mark Schmidt. Through the years Gwen also worked at the Rockford School in the cafeteria.

Gwen was very active in retirement serving with the Pink Ladies, Hospice, and was a beloved Foster Grandparent in the Charles City Schools. Gwen and Bob took many trips to Texas to visit their daughter and grandkids as well as bus trips in the United States. Gwen loved to knit, created beautiful ceramic art, enjoyed tea parties with her granddaughters, and was competitive in games with her family and could debate with the best!

Gwen was preceded in death by her parents James and Martha (Frink) Wentworth and her sister Virginia (Wentworth) Linkenbach.

Gwen is survived by her husband, Robert Schmidt; daughter, Jeanne (Steve) Regier; son, Mark (Jane) Schmidt, seven grandchildren: Scott (Lisa) Regier, Heather (Shawn) Carusella, Brian (Dotti) Regier, Shannan (Rod) Potts, Stacey (Austin) Martin, Sonni (Brad) Martzahn, Sydney (Ryan) Franzen, and 17 great-grandchildren.

Throughout her life, Gwen loved the Lord and her greatest desire was to see those around her have the same loving relationship with her heavenly father and best friend in life.

Hauser Funeral Home, (641) 228-2323, in Charles City, is in charge of local arrangements. Online condolences may be left for the family at

Funerals Wednesday, Nov. 15

BUNTING, Fern, 91, Mason City, 1 p.m. at Major Erickson Funeral Home, Mason City. 

ERICKSON, Gailerd Ellwood, 95, West Des Moines, 11 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, Mason City.

HARRER, JoAnn, 88, Mason City, 10:30 a.m. at Epiphany Parish - Holy Family Catholic Church, Mason City.