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Added postal capacity welcomed in Williston

FNS Photo by Kathleen Bryan Williston Postmaster Tammy Dunlop, left, assists Jon Cameron, staff member for Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., who is the first customer at the U.S. Postal Service's new full-service retail facility on Tuesday in Williston.

WILLISTON - Kim Wheigt was on his way to work in Williston when he spied the red, white and blue banners fluttering in the breeze Tuesday morning.

The U.S. Postal Service's new full-service retail facility had just opened its doors in the city's Badlands Town Center near Walmart, and Wheigt was second in line.

"I think it's well needed. Everybody's complaining they can't get a post office box."

The facility's 2,800 new post office boxes, in concert with the nearly 2,000 boxes in Williston's downtown location, will provide about 4,800 boxes to fill the growing demand as people continue to flock to the Bakken in pursuit of work.

"We're hoping it's enough - get us through the next five to 10 years," said Karen Fredrickson, outreach program manager and a 29-year veteran of the USPS.

Williston Postmaster Tammy Dunlop pitched the idea of a satellite postal facility to Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe last year, according to Jon Cameron, western regional director in Hoeven's office.

Dunlop gave kudos to Fredrickson, saying she was "instrumental" in the new facility becoming a reality.

But Cameron was quick to note the significance of Dunlop's suggestion to Hoeven and Donahoe.

“In a private session with Sen. Hoeven she said (we) need another post office in the northern part of the city. That suggestion by her turned into this."

Cameron was the facility's first customer when the doors opened at 9 a.m.

"I'm going to buy some stamps and mail a package to my brother in Texas," he said.

The 5,880-square-foot facility is equipped with a full-service window with three clerks and a 24/7 self-service kiosk in the lobby, which will allow customers to buy stamps, weigh and send packages and obtain other services, Fredrickson said.

Phase 1 of the Badlands Town Center, a 5.5 acre mixed-use commercial development, is complete except for landscaping, according to Ronica O'Dwyer, vice president of Triland Holdings.

Phase 2 is under way, with the first tenant being a Mexican restaurant that's set to open in the fall, she added.

A grand opening and formal ribbon cutting for the new postal facility is scheduled for early August.

Dunlop, dressed in blue and sporting a patriotic scarf, said she expects the new facility will be very busy within the next 30 days.

"This is a great day. it's very exciting," she said. "It feels as though just a suggestion turned into reality. It's a real plus, a great benefit to the community."