Mail for Minot

There has been a running discussion in the past couple of years about whether or not mail being posted for the Minot area is or is not being sent to Bismarck for processing and then being returned here for delivery. On local television newscasts I have seen, postal officials have claimed that Minot’s mail, posted here, is not sent to Bismarck. I had a different experience this week.

I mailed several letters about a week ago, most being sent to residential addresses in Minot. One of the letters was returned to me with a yellow sticker indicating that a “forwarding order” was expired and therefore the letter was undeliverable. The envelope bore the unmistakable postmark of Bismarck. I can’t imagine that mail destined for delivery in Minot, and mailed in Minot, would bear a postmark of Bismarck if it had not been in a postal facility in Bismarck. This would tend to disprove the statement from the post office that mail for Minot isn’t being sent to Bismarck.

After I verified with the intended recipient of the letter that the address was correct, I approached a clerk in the post office to ask why the letter had been sent to Bismarck as evidenced by the postmark. Her reply astonished me. She asked me where I had mailed the letter. I told her that I had used the drop-box in the post office lobby. I was informed that any mail deposited in the drop box in the lobby or in the mailboxes on the drive-thru lane is all sent to Bismarck and none of it is first sorted here to remove the local Minot mail.

I asked what my options were to get around this and was told that I should come inside and hand the mail to a clerk at the counter. This seems burdensome and impossible if one is mailing something after hours when counter service isn’t open.

So, is mail posted in Minot for Minot being sent to Bismarck for processing? The answer seems to be: “It depends.”

If it isn’t hand-delivered to a postal clerk in the lobby or mailed from your residence, but placed in the lobby drop-box or drive-thru boxes – it goes to Bismarck!

Here’s a simple solution that I have seen used in other cities: Install a drop-box in the post office lobby marked “MINOT MAIL ONLY” and dedicate one of the mailboxes on the drive-thru lane marked in an identical way. This would accommodate customers who post their mail at the post office after hours or when there are lines waiting for a clerk.

Postal officials need to stop telling the public that Minot’s mail is not going to Bismarck when it clearly may be, depending on how it is posted.