Mail carrier recognized for 1 million miles of safe driving

Mail carrier Francine Bretschneider is awarded for safely driving 1 million miles with the U.S. Postal Service. Manistee postmaster, Todd Blank presents her plaque. (Contributed by Rose Deneke)

MANISTEE COUNTY — Wellston letter carrier, Francine Bretschneider has been honored for 30 years and 1 million miles of accident free driving.

“It’s nice to be recognized, but I was surprised,” said Francine Bretschneider.

Bretschneider was honored Tuesday with a million-mile commemorative plaque, a pin for safe-driving and breakfast in her honor.

“That’s a big achievement,” said Rose Deneke, lead clerk at the Manistee USPS. “That million miles is a lot.”

Bretschneider, a Ludington resident, has been delivering mail on the same route for 30 years.

“I drive a hundred miles on the route, then I drive 45 miles back and forth to work,” Bretschneider said.

According to the US Postal Service, “the Million Mile Award is awarded to letter carriers, rural carriers and truck drivers, who have a safe attitude that entails driving for one million miles or 30 years without a preventable incident.”

Postmaster Todd Blank, who presented the award said Bretschneider “definitely set a great example to a lot of the younger guys — something to aspire to.”

Bretschneider’s devotion and longevity with the postal service comes naturally.

“It’s not a job for me, it’s a calling,” she said. “It’s what I was meant to do and I’m doing it.”

That doesn’t mean the letter carrier hasn’t considered retirement.

“I think about it all the time,” she said. “I thought about it after 10 years, but it’s nothing I plan on. When I feel like I can’t do it anymore, I’ll retire — I have three grown men at home, and I really don’t want to be stuck there all day.”

After 30 years delivering letters to Wellston, neither snow, nor rain, nor award ceremonies have kept Bretschneider from her appointed rounds. After the celebration was over, Bretschneider headed back to the route she’s worked for 1 million miles.

“I’ve got to keep moving,” she said. “I want to make a dispatch and I didn’t drop mail off, so I gotta move along.“

Nationally, postal drivers log more than 1.5 billion miles annually while delivering to more than 157 million homes and businesses in every city, suburb and town in America.

USPS began participating in the National Safety Council’s Million Mile Club and Safe Driver Award program in 1972.

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