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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Oil boom puts stress on western ND postal service

  • The U.S. Postal Service has struggled to provide adequate staffing for post offices in some oil-boom towns where populations have grown substantially in recent years.
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  • The rapid population growth in western North Dakota's oil fields has put stress on postal service in the area.
    The U.S. Postal Service has struggled to provide adequate staffing for post offices in some oil-boom towns where populations have grown substantially in recent years. That has led to complaints about long lines at post office windows, late mail, returned mail and undelivered mail.
    Gretchen Stenehjem with First International Bank in Watford City said the post offices need more staff.
    "We are not getting our mail. The mail is not coming in a timely manner," Stenehjem said. "This is a big problem for businesses."
    The Watford City post office ran out of postal boxes, so new customers have to get their mail through general delivery, which means they line up at the counter along with people looking to buy stamps, mail packages or conduct other business. Waits can be 40 minutes to an hour, which Stenehjem said is unacceptable for elderly people and unworkable for business.
    "This needs to get resolved," Stenehjem said. "We don't have a lot of other options. We have to use the post office."
    Pete Nowacki, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Minneapolis, said staffing is a huge problem for post offices in the area.
    "We have people retire in the area, and it's just very, very difficult to get replacements, and it's difficult to get additional people to keep up with some of the growth," Nowacki said.
    It can also be difficult for the postal service to meet the higher wages being paid in the oilfield areas, Nowacki said.
    The Postal Service is intent on fixing the problems, he said.
    "We will keep hammering away on this because service is what we sell, and of course with the upturn in an area like that, that means there's opportunities for us," Nowacki said.

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