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Mystery of the missing emblems remains just that

Whatever happened to the two large Great Seals of the United States that were mounted on the north side of the exterior concrete wall on the west side of the Medford Post Office? Why were they moved? Thank you.

— Kevin G., Medford

We here at Since You Asked pride ourselves on our investigative reporting skills. Medford is a harsh mistress, but our team of top-notch hacks have single-handedly solved many of her deepest and darkest secrets, dragging them out into the light for all to see. We wander the dark streets, the sole defenders of truth and transparency in the self-proclaimed "Center of the Rogue Valley."

In this particular instance, however, we admit defeat. Long story short, Kevin, we don't have a clue what happened to those seals.

First we called up the post office downtown, figuring they would know what happened. We got an interview with the postmaster, a man by the name of Anthony Plante, and grilled him on the location of the seals.

"That was way before my time here," said Plante, who's been postmaster for three years. "(The Forest Service) may have taken them off when the building was defederalized a couple years ago. ... When the post office moves out of a building, we pull off all the post-office emblems."

When Plante put us on the trail of the United States Forest Service, which relocated to a new site on Biddle Road back in June of 2008, we were sure the case was about to break.

They were a bit jumpy at the office, and the woman we talked to spilled the beans only after we promised her anonymity. She said the Forest Service didn't have a clue about the missing seals, and because the Forest Service was only renting the building from the post office, the letter carriers must have been the ones to lose the emblems.

The plot thickening, we called the post office again to confront Plante with the evidence. However, it being a Friday afternoon and with Christmas just around the corner, nobody got back to us.

On Tuesday we tried again, finally getting through to Postmaster Plante. Again, he said they didn't have any idea what happened to the emblems. His best guess was that the Forest Service pulled them off when they moved out. He also said it may have been pulled off way back in 1972, when the post office became independent from the Fed.

Undeterred, we called the Forest Service again, this time speaking with Jennifer Eberlien, the deputy forest supervisor. We asked her whether the seals were even on the building when the Forest Service moved out.

"Sometimes you don't pay attention when you walk into a building every day," said Eberlien. "We remember something there, but we don't remember if they were the seals.

"The one person who was in charge (of the move) said he didn't have a clue what happened to them," she said, referring to Scott Conroy, the forest supervisor. "We have no idea what happened to them."

So, Kevin, you should feel happy. Not only have you stumped us here at SYA, but you've also kept two federal agencies (or quasi-federal in the case of the post office) busy searching for these emblems.

We'll also keep digging and we'll let you know when we finally solve this mystery.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.