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USPS considers area post offices for closure

After the U.S. Postal Service announced that over 70 post offices in North Dakota will go under evaluation for possible closure, southwest area officials are pressing for continued service.

Offices in Golva, Amidon, Grassy Butte and Sentinel Butte are under review along with nearly 3,700 others around the nation.

USPS Spokesperson Pete Nowacki said the information gathering process has already begun and that each office will be evaluated individually.

A formal comment period will be available in the near future and patrons will have the opportunity to fill out surveys, Nowacki said.

"We are looking to get a gauge how often they come to the post office, what they do when they are there, what types of products and services they use the most so we can get an idea what the needs of the customers and needs of communities are," he said.

The study was necessitated by a shift in the way people have conducted business with the post office, Nowacki said. The use of first-class mail service has dropped 50 percent in the last decade, he added.

First State Bank Vice President Duane Maus of Golva said that the town may be small, but there are big businesses that use the post office. He said the community is booking meetings to let the USPS know the need for services.

"The battle is just beginning in my book," he said. "I am thinking we are going to get together as a town and let our voice be heard because we have a lot of businesses that depend on it."

In Amidon, the Slope County seat, Auditor Lorrie Buzalsky said the courthouse has seen more

activity with more mineral leasing and other business in the recorder's office. She added that going to an alternate site to conduct business would up the costs significantly.

"That is going to be a huge expense to the county, which is ultimately to the taxpayers," she said. "The big thing will be inconvenience and extra cost."

Others in the area, like Sentinel Butte Mayor Rick Olson, say that losing the post office would be a hit to the pride of the small town.

"We are a small community, any time you lose any type of business it hurts the community," he said. "As for the post office, it is part of your identity as a city."

He added that many of the residents have questions and are curious what is going to happen.

"Everything is up in the air so much," Olson said. "We are kind of in the dark at the moment."

Nowacki said the information gathering will likely take months and the public will be informed about possible closures around the first of the year. He added that public meetings will be held to further assess towns considered for closure.

The village Post Office may be offered to towns affected by the reduction. Local businesses contract with the USPS to provide services at the business.

Nowacki said the village system is a bonus for both sides.

"The village model will help the postal service from the standpoint that it lowers costs," he said. "The benefit to the community is to keep some postal services in town even when the post office is no longer there and it is also a nice thing for an individual business for a driver of more traffic into their place of business."