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The eyes of the community

Two Fayetteville letter carriers to retire after 30-plus years of service

Rich Adams and Ron Barnwell have been delivering letters to the Maple Drive and Salt Springs neighborhoods in Fayetteville for years. On April 3, they will retire after 31 years of service to the village.

Rich Adams and Ron Barnwell have been delivering letters to the Maple Drive and Salt Springs neighborhoods in Fayetteville for years. On April 3, they will retire after 31 years of service to the village. Allie Wenner

— “I was driving on Karakul Lane back then, and when I was about a block away I saw the smoke coming up and I thought, ‘That’s not normal,’” he said. “I drove over pretty quickly and the mulch outside was on fire. So I grabbed the hose from the side of the house and did what I could until the firefighters showed up.”

Jim West, a fellow Fayetteville letter carrier, said that all of the letter carriers feel a certain responsibility when it comes to looking out for their community.

“We’re kind of like a social thread that goes through a community – we see people all the time and we kind of know what’s going on,” West said. “We keep an eye out on the elderly. We’re an extra set of eyes in the community, especially in neighborhoods. We also keep an eye out on people’s homes when we know they’re gone on vacation just to make sure nothing out of the ordinary is going on. I think we’re providing a community service – we’re paid to do it, but for us it’s just part of going to people’s homes every day.”

“If somebody we know is disabled, we’ll bring their mail up to the house for them if we know it’s hard for them to get to their mailbox, especially in the winter,” Adams said.

And residents who live on both Adams’ and Barnwell’s routes have noticed how they go above and beyond what’s expected of them. Both men said that they’ve each had at least one person on their route cry after they heard about their retirement. Alice Firley, a Fayetteville resident, said that Barnwell will sometimes bring the mail up to her door just to check in and say hello.

“He is just the nicest man,” Firley said. “He’s very conscientious, very kind and he does his job perfectly. We’ve had mailmen who deliver [to the wrong house] and you can’t find your mail for two days – but that never happens with Ron. We always know when there’s a substitute because the mail comes later and there’s a mistake. There is never a mistake with Ron. He is really going to be missed.”

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