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Dickinson residents goin' out to get the mail

Press Photo by Bryan Horwath The U.S. Postal Service does not deliver mail to this Donna Lane apartment building in Dickinson.

When Neko Wells moved to Dickinson in July to be with her husband, she had no idea about the difficulties she would encounter receiving what most in town view as a basic service.

Though she lives in a new apartment complex on the north side of Dickinson with her two children and their father, a Power Fuels employee, Wells makes a daily trip to a box she rents at the UPS store just south of the Prairie Hills Mall. It's either that or pick up her mail at Power Fuels' Dickinson location, about two miles north of town.

The reason: the U.S. Postal Service doesn't deliver mail to Wells' building on Donna Lane because it considers it to be on par with dormitory housing at a college or a hospital. Instead, the post office drops off mail for residents in the Power Fuels administration building at the company's local


"Housing in these types of buildings is not available to the public, making it similar to a college dorm or to individual offices within one business," USPS spokesperson Peter Nowacki said. "We would not provide individual delivery in either of those cases. The situation falls under our polity for delivery to institutional housing."

Under the provision, Nowacki said the USPS makes bulk drops for mail addressed to people at "hotels, schools, and similar places" at one specific location. A number of residents at the Power Fuels-owned complex have rented boxes in town, although the USPS location in Dickinson has a limited number of boxes and sizes available.

"I was told in September that there were no P.O. boxes available at the post office," Wells said. "I went to the UPS store and rented one and that was expensive just to get your mail. It's frustrating. I don't understand why they don't just deliver here."

When contacted this week, an employee at Power Fuels headquarters in Watford City indicated that the non-delivery policy of the USPS has been a point of contention between the two organizations.

"My husband was here for a year before we moved here," Wells said. "I was told that they consider our apartments to be a man camp, but that just doesn't make sense to me. This is where we live, it's a new apartment building, and it's right in town -- why wouldn't they deliver here?"

A Power Fuels employee said Thursday that many occupants of its Dickinson housing units are moving toward renting post office boxes.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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