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Post condition determines who will pay for mailboxes

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Anyone who woke this week to find part or all of their mailbox on the ground has an important question to answer: Was the post intact, or had it been snapped in two?

If the post is broken, then it may have been hit by a snowplow. And in that case, homeowners in Greenwood, the Center Grove area or Franklin can ask the local government to replace their mailbox, Johnson County Highway Department director Luke Mastin, Greenwood deputy mayor Terry McLaughlin and Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness said.

But if the mailbox’s post is intact, then chances are it was knocked out by the snow. And even if that snow was pushed into the mailbox by a city or county plow, it’s the homeowner who will have to pay to replace it, Mastin and McLaughlin said.

“Once the snow leaves the plow, we’ve then lost all control of where it goes,” Mastin said. The county highway department is responsible for snow removal on all public roads, except state highways and interstates, in the parts of Johnson County not in a city or town.

In Franklin, Brenda Skaggs and Angie Mardis have had their mailboxes damaged in the last month, and while neither was sure who was responsible for the damage, they assumed they would have to pay about $80 for a new, plastic mailbox.

Skaggs, who lives in the 600 block of Old Plank Road, awoke Monday morning to find her plastic mailbox hadn’t survived the weekend snowstorm. She found the mailbox in a ditch, while the post had been twisted around to a crooked angle.

Skaggs has lived in the home since 1969, and this is the second time in roughly 45 years her mailbox has been damaged by a plow. But Mardis, who’s lived in the 1300 block of U.S. 31 for about 12 years, is used to having her mailbox knocked over anytime the streets are cleared.

So far Mardis has had to buy at least six new mailboxes. The mailbox last was knocked out of the ground during the snowstorm that came through Johnson County about a month ago, but it has remained standing so far through this week’s weather, she said.

Both are understanding when they lose a mailbox.

“I cannot blame (the plows). Unfortunately, they have to get out in this weather. We’re not upset about it. It’s just something we would like to have fixed,” Skaggs said.

This weekend, once temperatures rise above freezing and homeowners have a chance to see whether their properties were damaged by crews removing snow, hardware store managers are expecting a rise in customers looking to replace mailboxes.

“There’s always sales from storms,” Greenwood Menards manager Barry Dennett said.

Most homeowners purchase plastic mailboxes that they don’t have to assemble themselves and which can be mounted over wooden planks in their front yards, Dennett said. These mailboxes, which are about $80, look nice, but they also become brittle in cold temperatures, and there’s no way to repair them once they crack, Dennett said.

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