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Manning to lose full post office, community of 74 to go to box system

Press Photo by Sean M. Soehren Manning Postmaster Cheryl Borth entertains questions from concerned residents about the possible closure of the local post office Tuesday evening at the Manning Community Center. The post office is expected to close after Borth retires on June 30, U.S. Postal Service officials said.

MANNING -- Tensions ran high and the concerns were numerous as the public gathered in the Manning Community Center on Tuesday night to discuss alternative mailing accommodations in the instance the Dunn County seat's U.S. Postal Service office would shut down. The office is expected to close at the end of the month, officials said.

This would be the second post office to close in Dunn County in the last ten months, as Dunn Center's mailing hub shut down in October.

"Everyone is concerned about the post office closing," USPS Manager of Post Office Operations Wanda Cleveland said. "We just don't have anyone to run it."

The current postmaster, Cheryl Borth, said that she has been looking for a replacement for over three years and is retiring June 30. She added that trying to fill the position at this point might be a lost cause.

"No one has applied for the position," she said. "If we got someone to apply they would have to go through the proper two-week training and then work in the office for at least a year."

Cleveland said the office would cease operation at noon on June 30.

Resident Curt Kralicak said that it would be nearly impossible to attract applicants with the wages being offered, adding that area fast-food restaurants offer more competitive wages. The position was advertised for $9.45 per hour.

Borth said she "lost hope early" about filling the position because of the low pay.

The congregation asked if this would be the only county seat to be without a post office, since even the nation's smallest county seat, Amidon, still has an operational post office. Cleveland and Borth said they were unsure, but said this wasn't a just a problem locally.

"This is a nationwide problem," Borth said. "Dozens and dozens of offices are being considered for emergency suspension."

Manning residents' mail would be processed through the Dickinson office, Cleveland said.

Multiple residents raised concerns that going to Dickinson to get packages would be an inconvenience.

"When I go to get mail, I don't want to go on the day I get groceries," Kralicak said. "I go when I need to and I go here because it is convenient."

Dunn County Commission Chairman Daryl Dukart said the closure would have a broad effect.

"Losing the post office will not only affect us as residents of Manning, but it will have an effect on the county," he said, adding that the Dunn County Courthouse in Manning sends about 50 to 75 certified mailings each day and that transitions in offices may cause high costs.

Clerk of Courts Christy Larson agreed, saying it would be difficult to get materials sent by deadline.

The USPS officials took questions concerning alternate mail delivery options including individual boxes and "cluster" boxes.

It is the responsibility of the individual to maintain personal boxes, Cleveland said, and that includes keeping roads cleared during winter.

Dukart said the county would not have enough funding to keep all roads snow-free throughout the winter.

In the end, the group decided to utilize a centralized box unit in the courthouse parking lot, Post Office Review Coordinator Taryce Olson said.