Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-.N.D., has launched a new petition on her website calling for the U.S. Postal Service to improve mail service at rural post offices in North Dakota.
According to a press release, representatives of the Postal Service told her in March that it would maintain hours of operation at 30 post offices around North Dakota. However, Heitkamp has been told that hours of operation at 27 of those post offices will be reduced, as well as at nearly 300 additional locations throughout the state.
Her office reported that hours will be maintained at post offices in Underwood, Westhope and Parshall. Post offices in the Minot region expected to see cuts are Drake, Newburg, Voltaire, Burlington, Turtle Lake, Lignite, Makoti, Alexander, Ray, Ross, Berthold, Fortuna, McGregor, Maxbass and Tolley.
In May 2012, the Postal Service had announced a nationwide program to keep approximately 13,000 post offices across the country open by realigning retail window hours based on customer use and total revenues. The plan was to be implemented over a two-year period in a multi-phased process, with completion in September 2014. The timeline has been extended and the program now will be finalized in early January 2015, according to the Postal Service.
Since the program was announced more than two years ago, 9,166 post offices have had retail operating hours adjusted, including 157 offices in North Dakota since January 2013.
Heitkamp said she has received numerous complaints from her constituents about the mail service.
"How can we trust anything the Postal Service says when it promises one thing and then does another? North Dakotans across our state have faced serious problems with mail delivery and service," said Heitkamp in the press release. "Through my Fix My Mail initiative, I've heard incredible stories of how folks haven't received their prescriptions on time, and got mail that was damaged or even thrown in a ditch on the side of a road. And now the Postal Service is reducing service when North Dakota's population is only growing as we are one of the fastest-growing states in the nation and need better services. To push back on the Postal Service, I'm launching a petition as part of my Fix My Mail effort and I encourage North Dakotans to visit my website and sign it. Working together, we can pressure the Postal Service to reverse its reckless actions."
During her meeting with the Postmaster General last spring, Heitkamp said she received several commitments to improve mail delivery and standards in North Dakota in addition to keeping more hours of operation, including deploying mobile point of sale devices and installing self-service kiosks.