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Paper carrier hasn’t missed delivery once in 23 years

Jean Sibley pulls a paper to throw during her route in Openwood Subdivision Wednesday as her granddaughter, Hope Rea Sibley, keeps her company in the back seat. (Melanie Duncan Thortis The Vicksburg Post)

[10/10/03]Where long service sometimes results in a lesser workload, The Vicksburg Post’s longest-tenured carrier, Jean Sibley, also has the largest route.

And she may have the highest customer satisfaction rate, too.

“She hasn’t missed a day in 23 years,” said Becky Chandler, circulation director for the newspaper, which is honoring Sibley and its 45 other carriers on Saturday, National Newspaper Carriers Day.

“My sister-in-law was Rose Hearn, and she had a route,” Sibley said of her entry into the seven-day-a-week duty. “She asked me if I wanted to share it with her.”

Sibley and Hearn, who died in 1992, shared the route for a number of years. One would deliver for two weeks, and then the other would deliver for the next two weeks.

Today, Sibley delivers 565 papers Tuesday through Thursday and 582 Friday through Monday to customers along Oak Ridge Road, in Openwood, Fairways and other communities in the area not far north and east of Vicksburg.

Mostly, she works alone, but sometimes has help from her husband, Robert.

“The only thing bad is the weekends,” she said. “Getting up early will kill you.”

Newspaper delivery personnel are independent contractors, buying the papers wholesale and depending on customers who pay subscription or single-copy prices. They settle up with the circulation office every month.

“Rose always told me Don’t spend the money until you’ve paid your bills. The money isn’t yours until then,'” Sibley said. Chandler said Sibley always settles her account early, and in full.

Riding the same roads seven days a week makes a person observant, Sibley said. Once, a tornado had toppled a tree on a house, and she knew the family was out of town.

“I called (other family members) and they came and cut the tree off and covered the house” to prevent rain damage, she said.

Other times, she said she has seen people she knew walking and been able to help with a lift.

But it is the service she gives that really sells things with her customers such as Rebecca McKinney who lives on Plantation Drive in Openwood.

“I love it because she always delivers the paper early before the school bus comes,” McKinney said, adding she is able to read her paper before other family members begin arriving.

Even on the weekends those “bad weekends” McKinney said Sibley has picked up her papers, rolled and delivered them so her customers have them as the new day dawns.