Good day for mail

The Minot Post Office has received a temporary reprieve with the announcement Monday that the U.S. Postal Service has postponed its scheduled second round of mail-processing center closures and consolidations.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said the Postal Service has indicated it will postpone the revised mail service standards, scheduled to begin to take effect on Feb. 1. The changes would have resulted in further consolidation of mail-processing facilities across the country to reduce Postal Service costs.

“Postponement of the Minot processing center’s closure will give us additional time to make our case, which is that the logistical and service problems resulting from closure will have a harmful impact on residents and businesses,” Hoeven said in a prepared statement. “The rapid growth of the entire region’s economy and population warrants retaining the postal processing center.”

Hoeven said this indefinite delay means the Postal Service still could announce a future consolidation schedule, giving at least 90 days notice before any changes take effect.

John MacMartin, president of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce, called the postponement good news.

Local officials across western North Dakota, along with the congressional delegation, have been working to inform the Postal Service that its studies supporting closure are out-dated, MacMartin said.

“It’s a different scenario going on in North Dakota,” he said. “We have a chance now to show them that there is a difference that the processing center in Minot is necessary to continue to provide service throughout western North Dakota.”

The Minot Area Mail Processing Center was among key issues that Hoeven addressed in a letter Monday to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.

“I encourage the retention of the Minot AMP Center, as current employees have expressed anxiety that discontinuing operations will compromise existing service standards in the area,” Hoeven wrote. “While I understand the financial cost of the Minot AMP Center, I believe the logistical and service problems that will result from its closure will have an adverse impact on customers.”

Hoeven’s letter addressed other postal issues in western North Dakota. Among issues still needing resolution are:

– inconsistent on-time delivery of local publications.

– anecdotal cases of inconsistent delivery of mail, missing mail and slow mail.

– inadequate resources to improve turnover and training of quality employees.

– slow hiring processes.

– inadequate pay for postal workers in the Bakken region.

Hoeven also cited improvement in mail service to government and corporately owned and operated housing units in Williston and the proposed expansion of postal facilities in Williston and Watford City. He urged monitoring and maintenance of the postal vehicle fleet, which has been increased in western North Dakota.

Problem areas in western North Dakota were identified last August when Hoeven hosted Donahoe on a visit to Williston and the surrounding area, and again during a subsequent visit to the state in November by Drew Aliperto, the head of the Postal Services Western Area Operations.