Area post offices get reprieve from hours reduction

WASHINGTON Thirty post offices in the Bakken region will maintain their hours as promised by the U.S. Postal Service last spring.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Thursday that he has received a confirmation from Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman that the Postal Service will adhere to its commitment in April to maintain current service hours at the 30 post offices that were going to have their hours reduced. Hoeven sought confirmation after recent information from the Postal Service appeared to indicate that it was going back on its commitment and was again considering hour reductions.

Post offices in the Minot region that will remain unaffected are Drake, Newburg, Voltaire, Burlington, Turtle Lake, Underwood, Lignite, Makoti, Westhope, Alexander, Ray, Ross, Parshall, Berthold, Fortuna, McGregor, Maxbass and Tolley.

While data released last week suggested that some of the largely rural post offices warranted having their hours reduced, Stroman told Hoeven that the Postal Service recognizes the growth trend in the Bakken region and has the flexibility to consider other factors in its decision making.

“We got a firm commitment late yesterday from the USPS that it will maintain current hours at approximately 30 post offices in the growing Bakken region, as we requested and as was promised in April,” Hoeven said. “At the same time, about 30 others are still scheduled to have their hours reduced, which we’ve asked the postal service to re-evaluate in a timely manner because of the continuing growth of our state.”

Hoeven has pressed the Postal Service to use more current data in its decision-making. Last week the postal service completed its updated statewide review of 278 post offices in North Dakota using Fiscal Year 2013 data on facility revenue and mail volume. The results left most post offices at current service hour levels and suggested that about 30 post offices might have hours reduced. About 160 of the 278 post offices have already reduced retail hours beginning in January 2013.

The Postal Service will be scheduling community meetings to discuss any proposed reductions with residents before those reductions go into effect. In cases where reductions will occur, Hoeven is working to make sure there is adequate rural delivery, 24-hour access to post office boxes and self-service kiosks that offer customers round-the-clock access to buy stamps, track packages and obtain other services.