Hoeven: Postmaster Visits North Dakota for Firsthand Look at State's Needs

WILLISTON, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today hosted Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe on a visit to North Dakota to see firsthand the state’s tremendous growth in western North Dakota and its impacts on postal services. The senator also arranged a roundtable featuring community leaders, postal worker representatives, oil industry and newspaper leaders to apprise the postmaster of the pressing need to retain and expand postal services to residents and businesses, as well as rural communities in the region. Hoeven has been pressing the USPS for a commitment to addressing delivery and customer service issues in North Dakota.

“Often, people need to see with their own eyes the tremendous growth we’re experiencing in North Dakota and the challenges that are coming along with it,” Hoeven said. “Our growing communities, especially in the oil patch, are contributing not only to our state’s economy, but also to the nation’s economy. They are in need of reliable and timely postal services now more than ever.”

Hoeven asked Donahoe to come to North Dakota when they met in Washington in July to discuss postal service challenges in North Dakota owing to the agency’s fiscal problems combined with the state’s rapidly growing economy and population. Donahoe directed staff in the Sioux Falls regional office to work specifically on recruiting additional employees at competitive pay levels. He said he has a person working full-time to meet the staffing needs in North Dakota.

Hoeven conducted a roundtable with Donahoe for community leaders to share postal challenges ranging from newspaper service to mail delivery at multi-unit housing complexes. The senator was joined by state and local leaders including: Williston Mayor Ward Koeser, Williams County Commission Chair Dan Kalil, Williams County Project Manager Deanna Senior, Fortuna City Council Member Gary Rust, North Dakota Newspaper Association Executive Director Steve Andrist, Williston Herald Publisher Mitzi Moe, McKenzie County Farmer Publisher Neal Shipman, MDU Energy Services Manager Ken Callahan, MDU Williston District Manager Ben Zachmeier, Mercy Medical Center President Matt Grimshaw, Williston State College President Dr. Raymond Nadolny, Williston State College Foundation Executive Director Terry Olson, Williston Public School District Superintendent Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Badlands Development/Power Fuels Property Manager Reino Rousu, and National Rural Letter Carriers Association District Representative Paul Katzer.

Following the roundtable, Hoeven showed Donahoe a variety of housing and apartment complexes experiencing postal delivery challenges. The ground tour began at the Williams County employee apartment building and the Mercy Medical Center apartment complex. Hoeven has been working with Donahoe to install cluster box units on-site to provide on-site mail service to residents.

The ground tour continued at a new 74-unit apartment complex on the Williston State College Campus. Mailboxes have been installed at the complex and the Williston State College Foundation would like the USPS to begin mail service to residents, who are in the process of moving in now.

Next, the leaders drove through the Target Logistic Man Camp, a 1,034-bed housing facility. Currently, USPS delivers mail in bulk to the Target Logistics employees, who then distribute the mail to individuals, a system that works well for the company and its residents, according to Target Logistics leaders.

The ground tour concluded at Fox Run RV Park, a 302-unit park that leases spots to tenants who stay from one month to two years. Currently, USPS delivers mail in bulk to the facility and it is then distributed to boxes installed by Fox Run RV Park, a system that works well for the park and its residents. However, mail forwarding when tenants leave the park has been an issue they’d like the Postmaster to help resolve.

The senator supported the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012, comprehensive reform legislation that sought to develop a thoughtful plan to restore the U.S. Postal Service to solvency while preserving delivery service standards.