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Devils Lake USPS center transfer planned

GRAND FORKS -- People living in the Devils Lake region should see little change in operation if the U.S. Postal Service proceeds with its proposal to transfer the city's Customer Service Mail Processing Center to Grand Forks.

Earlier this month, the Postal Service completed the move of its Jamestown mail processing center to Fargo, according to Pete Nowacki, spokesman for the Postal Service's Dakota District, which includes North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana.

"From what I've heard, it went quite smoothly. We were able to meet all the deadlines, and continue service without any problems," he said.

He expects the Jamestown experience to be repeated in Devils Lake.

"It's about as close to Devils Lake as you can get," he said.

The Postal Service will conduct a public meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Devils Lake High School to discuss the potential shift of its mail processing center to Grand Forks.

As with Americans all over the country, Postal Service officials say Devils Lake area residents will feel more effects from its plans to cut back its first-class mail delivery system, which would eliminate the chance of stamped letters arriving at their destinations the next day.

Essentially, under that proposal, anything now delivered within three days will remain at three days. However, any next-day deliveries would change to two days and two-day deliveries would arrive in two or three days.

That nationwide maneuver would save the Postal Service about $3 billion.

Locally, the transfer of the Devils Lake mail processing center to Grand Forks would amount to a savings of about $221,000 annually, while its post office ultimately would lose just one of its 15 positions, according

to Nowacki.

Earlier this year, the Postal Service proposed to close both the Devils Lake and Grand Forks mail processing centers by shifting the operations to Fargo. It was part of a proposal to eliminate 252 of 487 processing centers nationwide.

However, the Grand Forks facility's proposed closing process was placed on hold last week.

One other regional mail processing center will be closed. The Postal Service recently announced that the Bemidji operation will merge with one in St. Cloud, unless the St. Cloud facility is merged with one in the Twin Cities.

In the northern Red River Valley, the last regional mail processing center to close was in 2001, when the Thief River Falls operation was moved to Grand Forks.

Recently, the Postal Service announced a moratorium on any further post office closings until May.

The Postal Service is taking comments on the proposed transfer of the Devils Lake operation to Grand Forks until Jan. 19.

Written comments may be sent to: Manager, Consumer and Industry Contact; Dakotas District; Box 7570; Sioux Falls, SD 57117-7570.

Bonham is a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by

Forum Communications Co.