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Vanatta ensures mail continues through crisis
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Shannon Vanatta, a U.S. Postal Service employee since 2006, loads her vehicle in preparation for running her mail route Thursday. She continues to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The mail must go through, which means there must be cleaning. Brandy Turner works to sanitize areas of McMinnville Post Office. “I even wipe down the pens,” said Brandy.

Through rain, sleet or COVID-19, the mail must go through.

No one knows that more than Shannon Vanatta, a rural route carrier who’s been delivering mail for McMinnville Post Office for nearly 16 years.

“I feel like I’m an essential employee providing an essential service,” said Vanatta. “People have important mail and important packages. We deliver medicine to people every day.”

Vanatta delivers Route No. 1, which covers the Shelbyville Road, Jacksboro and Crisp Springs Road areas. She drives about 60 miles a day running her 6.5-hour route and touches countless mailbox handles along the way.

“I really love my job,” said Vanatta. “I’m out there driving by myself so I don’t wear a mask, but I do wear gloves. I avoid any physical contact with my customers. If it’s a package, we don’t have to hand them the scanner right now to have them sign for it. I can sign C-19, my initials, and the route number. If it’s a package to leave on the front door, I ring the bell and leave. I’ll be halfway across the yard before they get to the door. I like to have contact with my people, but I can’t during these times.”

Vanatta says her main goal is delivering mail while maintaining a safe distance from her customers to keep everyone healthy. She said Brent Nunley is a top-notch postmaster who always works to ensure his employees have the latest information coming from Nashville. She says there are constant efforts to maintain a clean and sanitary environment at McMinnville Post Office.

“I’m going to keep working through this and trust God to protect me. I really believe he takes care of me out there,” said Vanatta. “I want things to go back to normal and I want people who are laid off to be able to get back to work.”

Vanatta shared a card of thanks that was recently left in a mailbox on her route. The letter was written in purple magic marker and signed by Anna. It advises Vanatta to “stay healthy while you are giving out our mail.”

Said Vanatta, “When you see the flag up, you expect mail to pick up. You don’t expect there to be a card and some snacks. It was very nice.”