Rep. Joe Neguse addresses complaints from Steamboat residents upset with post office
The complaints of Steamboat Springs residents frustrated with the U.S. Postal Service have garnered the attention of Rep. Joe Neguse.
On Tuesday, Jan. 31, Neguse sent a letter to District Manager for the Colorado-Wyoming District Jason McMahill requesting he urgently address the ongoing delays in mail services occurring in Colorado’s mountain communities. His staff was also slated to take part in a meeting with the Postal Service as well as local governmental officials on Tuesday.
“I think that the congressman, again, just wanted to really reiterate that he’s working to address this and that he understands that this is a very important issue to a lot of people in the district,” said Grace Martinez, press secretary for Joe Neguse’s office. “We’re hoping just to get answers and hopefully finding solutions that are the next step to see how we can actually fix these problems.”
A Tuesday news release stated that when Routt County was added to Colorado’s 2nd District in January, the congressman’s office immediately received a flood of complaints and urgent requests for help from the Steamboat Springs area, where many residents have gone weeks without any mail. Local leaders in Dillon and Silverthorne describe the mail service in their communities as deeply dysfunctional.
Dave Miller is one of the residents that has reached out to Neguse’s office for help, but remains skeptical about how much impact the letter will have. He said he relies on the mail to get checks for work that he has already completed, and said that he has been waiting for checks for several weeks.
“When power goes down, we can call the power company and they will say we have a problem here, they will identify the problem and say they’re working on it. Then they will work it out all night until it’s fixed,” Miller said. “When people work with the public that’s the standard procedure, whether it’s the internet, water lines or whatever it is you tell the public what is going on — but for some reason the post office thinks they’re different.”
Martinez said the letter from Neguse is a way to let the public, and the Postal Service know that what’s happening in mountain towns like Steamboat Springs is not acceptable, stating that the congressman has repeatedly implored the agency to solve these problems, including by asking the Postal Service to provide alternate methods to pick up mail, expand opportunities for customers to access their P.O. boxes, aggressively recruit new staff, and meet with the affected towns’ mayors and county leaders.
“Notwithstanding the herculean efforts of the front line postal workers at the locations above, these rural mountain communities are simply not receiving a level of service even close to what the district management of USPS is required to provide,” the congressman wrote in the letter. “Our offices receive regular reports of sporadic or nonexistent mail delivery, backlogs of mail and packages piling up behind service desks, unreasonably restricted regular operating hours, unscheduled closures of service desks during posted operating hours, unpredictable hours of operation, lack of access to P.O. boxes, disheveled and unclean public areas, unaddressed maintenance issues, mail and packages inexplicably returned to senders, crippling staff shortages, and customer lines of 60 minutes or longer. […] In order to meet the universal service mandate of the USPS, these locations are in urgent need of your focused and immediate attention.”
Martinez said the letter is a way for the congressman to go on the record about the issues, and is hoping that the congressman’s office can ask some tough questions, get honest answers and ultimately find solutions to the problems that Steamboat, and similar mountain communities, have faced with for several months.
“This issue is kind of spreading across Colorado, a lot of other communities that are dealing with it. So hopefully we can find a path forward for everyone.” Martinez said.
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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