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Posted 11/12/14 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

The bad news for people in western North Dakota, who rely on the U.S. Postal Service for their mail, is that the delays that they are currently experiencing in getting their mail is probably going to get longer.
What could be the biggest monkey wrench that the Postal Service could throw into the mail delivery service in western North Dakota would be the closing of any of its mail processing centers in the state. But that is just what the U.S. Postal Service is planning to do as they are moving forward with plans to close the Minot Area Mail Processing Center and relocate that mail distribution work to Bismarck.
The U.S. Postal Service officials are claiming that by closing the Minot center and moving all of the mail to Bismarck for processing, the agency will save move and be more efficient.
As with so many things that the Postal Service does, one has to wonder how consolidating all the mail that is to be distributed in western North Dakota could possibly be expedited if it has to go through just one processing center in Bismarck. That fact is further compounded when you consider the volume of mail that is currently being handled in Minot, which is struggling to keep up with the growing population. And that growth in population is not just happening in Minot, but in Williston, Watford City, Stanley and Tioga as well.
Already, it is questionable whether or not places like Watford City have the one day mail service that the Postal Service claims is happening. If the Minot processing is indeed closed, “snail mail” delivery service will become a reality for Watford City and other cities formerly served by that center.
It is encouraging the North Dakota Senator John Hoeven has thrown his support for maintaining the Minot center and is encouraging U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to reevaluate that decision.
I remember distinctly attending a meeting a little over a year ago with Donahoe in Williston where he pledged to make the improvements necessary to keep the mail moving smoothly in western North Dakota. For the most part, Donahoe’s pledge was mostly rhetoric with very little changes happening. He said that there would be more postal workers assigned to Watford City. That hasn’t happened. He promised that Watford City would have in-town delivery of the mail in order to eliminate the long lines at the post office. While the cluster boxes have been installed in Watford City, in-town delivery service has never begun.
Western North Dakota is experiencing an unprecedented growth in population, but so far the U.S. Postal Service has done very little to improve the level of service in the area. And the case can be made, that because of their inability to hire more staff to adequately serve the growing mail volume, mail service has actually gotten worse.
The Postal Service continuing with their plans to close the Minot processing center seems to defy complete logic.
Donahoe needs to listen to Hoeven and reevaluate the Postal Service’s plans to close the Minot center. And he needs to follow through on his promises to improve mail service to western North Dakota.