Getting the stamp of approval

Halliday residents excited that post office reopens

William Smith stepped into the Halliday Post office on Wednesday and mailed a birthday card to his son in Colorado.

He wouldn’t have been able to do that on Tuesday.

DUNN COUNTY HERALD

The post office in Halliday was reopened on Wednesday after nearly four months. It was closed in October because officials thought there was mold in the building. Although no mold was detected, officials kept the office closed for repairs.

“It sure is nice to be able to come in and take care of your mail on your own time,” Smith said. “I know there was issues, but it took a long time and to have limited mail service, well, was kind of a drag. My brother joked that we were like Walnut Grove on ‘Little House on the Prairie’.”

Darrel Gegelmann ducked into the post office around lunch time to mail a letter before he went to work in Beulah. He was working the night shift, which normally wasn’t a problem. But it was a problem when he worked the day shift.

“There were times I went a week without mail,” Gegelmann said. “I am happy to see it back.”

Chris Flaget agreed.

“Finally, the right people were called,” he said. “It’s about time.”

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitcamp made repeated calls to U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan and the U.S. Postal Service to protect quality mail delivery and service where it had been disrupted in Halliday.

When the post office was closed, residents first had to drive 16 miles to Golden Valley for mail service. The Postal Service then opened a temporary facility in the Halliday City Hall. However, the service was available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., which caused some inconvenience for guys like Gegelmann.

“I couldn’t get there when I worked days, so I went without,” he said.

Not anymore.

“In close-knit rural towns like Halliday, even a temporary closure of the local post office can mean severe disruptions for families trying to stay in touch or businesses working to stay on track,” said Heitkamp, in a statement released last Friday. “When I heard about the post office closing in Halliday, I sprang to action – calling on Postmaster General Brennan for immediate results to make sure the community knew how to access their mail services as efficiently as possible during the closure. Nearly every day since, my staff on the ground in Dickinson and I worked to bring about a permanent solution – and that’s exactly what will happen in February when the Halliday post office is set to reopen.”

The opening of the Halliday post office builds on months of Heitkamp’s work to improve mail service across North Dakota – particularly in rural areas – through her Fix My Mail initiative and survey, to which hundreds of North Dakotans have responded with stories on the mail challenges they have experienced at their homes, businesses, or communities. Last August, Heitkamp brought Brennan to North Dakota to visit a mail processing facility, hear firsthand from community and business leaders about how North Dakotans have been impacted by slow service and delivery delays, and discuss lasting solutions to improve their mail delivery and service.

Brennan agreed to Heitkamp’s request to visit North Dakota in April after Heitkamp shared her Fix My Mail survey results with the Postmaster General. To date, more than 600 North Dakotans have filled out the Fix My Mail survey since its February launch. The results revealed major challenges for residents throughout the state – from medications and tax information lost or delayed in the mail, to batches of checks taking 10-20 days to travel 180 miles across the state.

North Dakotans in rural communities rely heavily on the Postal Service to support their businesses and to connect them with family, and are disproportionately impacted by poor service and delivery – a point echoed in a Postal Service Inspector General report on mail volume. Over the past few years, rural America has faced increased delivery times, reduced service standards, and a distressed Postal Service workforce.

Long an advocate for improved mail delivery in North Dakota, Heitkamp’s efforts began shortly after taking office in 2013 when she heard from constituents about ongoing problems with mail service.


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