February 29, 2012


By Neal A. Shipman/
Farmer Editor

With the U.S. Postal Service’s decision to move forward with its plan to close nearly 3,600 post offices and 250 processing centers across the United States in an effort to bring some form of financial stability to this organization, one has to wonder what is going to happen to mail service in this country.
Everyone knows that the Postal Service, which is currently facing a $9.5 million deficit this fiscal year alone, is desperately trying to find ways to save money and keep this American institution up and running. For years, the agency has struggled to remain relevant as more and more people use email, texting and other high tech ways to communicate.
But is closing down this number of post offices and processing centers really the answer to the Postal Service’s budget woes?
Obviously, the Postal Service needs to look at areas that can be trimmed and that may mean closing some post offices and consolidating some of the processing centers.
But one has to wonder, if the Postal Service really looked at what is happening in areas, such as in western North Dakota, as they move forward with their plans to shutter offices. Four post offices in McKenzie County (Arnegard, Cartwright, Grassy Butte and Mandaree) are still on the most recent list of offices slated for closure as is the postal sorting center in Minot. Unless the Postal Service bean counters who are doing the number crunching are so preoccupied with removing mail service from rural areas, they must have overlooked the fact that western North Dakota is booming. Granted these communities right now are small and serve a relatively low number of people, as a result of the energy development in this region, they are all growing.
It may make sense to close a post office in an urban city when another post office is just a few blocks away. But it makes no sense whatsoever to close a post office in Mandaree or Grassy Butte when the next closest post office is 35 miles away. Maybe a few years ago,  Watford City’s post office could have handled the mail volume of those offices. But today, that post office is struggling mightily to simply handle the mail needs of this community’s rapidly increasing population.
Likewise, one has to wonder with the boom of activity in western North Dakota, why the Postal Service would consider moving the Minot processing center to Bismarck. With the significant increase in the volume of mail that is being processed at the Minot center that is destined to places like Watford City, Tioga, Stanley and Williston it doesn’t make sense to move the processing center farther away from these communities.
At a time when business should be booming for the post offices and mail processing centers in western North Dakota, it makes absolutely no sense for these facilities to be on the chopping block.
The communities of western North Dakota and the businesses that operate in them, and the people that live here depend on the Postal Service for their mail service. There are no other options.
But more importantly, we need a mail delivery service that will provide one-day delivery of our first class mail. And we need six-day-a-week mail service.
What we don’t need are changes that will result in the delivery of first class mail being delayed by two to three days or the inconvenience of having to drive up to 30 miles to get to the nearest post office.