Colorado Senators invite Postmaster General to visit struggling mountain town post offices |

Colorado Senators invite Postmaster General to visit struggling mountain town post offices

Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hicklooper wrote a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy Thursday, Feb. 23, that included an invitation to visit Colorado's mountain communities, and see what first hand the issues the communities are facing.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Mail delivery problems in mountain towns, including Steamboat Springs, have prompted Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper to offer Postmaster General Louis DeJoy an invitation to visit the state and see what those communities are facing.

“Our office has worked closely with the Colorado-Wyoming USPS district office on these issues, and it is clear that the district is strapped for resources and attention from Washington,” Bennet said. “We’re hopeful Postmaster DeJoy and United States Post Office leadership will come to Colorado to see the challenges their staff and our communities face firsthand.”

Bennet and Hickenlooper sent the letter to DeJoy Thursday, Feb. 23, asking for urgent attention to ongoing service and delivery issues with the U.S. Postal Service.

Problems in Steamboat Springs started in December when many local residents saw a drop-off in mail deliveries to rural mailboxes, cluster boxes and inconsistent delivery to P.O boxes. Those problems continued through January into February.

James Boxrud, a spokesperson for the Postal Service, said he had no idea if DeJoy would come to Colorado, but said the agency welcomes the input from the senators.

“We are in receipt of the letter from the senators, and we appreciate their concern for the Postal Service and our customers,” Boxrud said. “Stabilizing and improving service throughout the Colorado mountain communities is an organizational priority for the Postal Service. The issues of staffing and housing in our resort communities are ongoing challenges for USPS. We are in regular communications with all Colorado’s Senate and Congressional staff and we welcome their input.”

He said the agency has brought in outside people and that he believed Steamboat Springs Post Office is caught up, and is still working to fill positions. The Postal Service is holding a job fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Steamboat Springs Post Office. Potential applicants can also go on and apply there as well.

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“We are caught up, and we have been caught up for quite some time,” Boxrud said. “Probably 10 days or so — probably close to two weeks — we’ve been caught up every day. I’m sure with the recent snow that there’s areas that they can’t get to, but we we got a full staff up there working, and at least the delivery side has caught up.”

He said the Postal Service is still evaluating delivery Group E P.O. boxes, which are provided for free with restrictions, to customers whose physical addresses are not eligible for any form of Postal Service carrier delivery service.

The letter from Bennet and Hickenlooper addressed several areas they are hoping to work with the Postal Service to restore quality service.

The senators want the Postal Service to resolve staffing shortages that they believe have resulted in most of the frustration. They would love to see the Postal Service streamline the hiring process to help the Wyoming-Colorado district to attract and retain staff.

They would also like to see the Postal Service partner with towns to identify affordable housing for Postal Service staff. The Colorado-Wyoming district staff has identified the lack of affordable housing in mountain towns as a significant barrier to staff retention.

They have also asked the Postal Service to revamp physical infrastructure, particularly for packages further stating that facilities currently in use are too small for effective organization, storage, and distribution of packages and parcels. The senators would like to see the Postal Service invest in facilities to ensure adequate space even if this means replacing existing facilities.

The senators have also asked to reinstate regular updates and quarterly calls with the congressional delegation. These calls would allow congressional offices to raise constituent concerns and provide an opportunity for Postal Service to describe efforts to resolve ongoing staffing and delivery issues.

The letter also stressed that Colorado’s mountain and rural communities, as well as those on the Front Range, rely on the Postal Service to send and receive election ballots, Social Security checks, passports, prescription medicines, and other essential, time-sensitive mail.

Routt County Commissioner Tm Corrigan attended a meeting several weeks ago where congressional representatives, and local officials met with Postal Service officials, including Boxrud, to address many of these problems.

“While it has not been a problem, we are certainly concerned about our elections. Can we have confidence that come November, or the next set of elections, people are going to be able to receive and return their ballots in a timely basis?” Corrigan said. “I made the point of the meeting that managers don’t make excuses, they work for solutions.”

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