YEAR IN REVIEW: Despite Heitkamp’s initiative, Amidon to get box units

ORIGINAL RUN: October 29

The Amidon post office will soon close as the lease is set to expire at the end of the year. Residents will now get their mail at a collection box that has been placed on the property of the Slope County Courthouse. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)

EDITOR’S NOTE: After losing out on their post office building, residents of Amidon will use box units for delivery of their mail.

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor
cbenz@countrymedia.net

Amidon residents could soon have access to their mail 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With the lease on the current building set to expire, the United States Postal Service held a public meeting on Aug. 30, and the general consensus of the group was that the best option to solve the problem would be to adopt a Neighborhood Distribution Collection Box (NDCBU)—essentially an exterior post office box type setup.

Residents had 30 days from the date of the initial public meeting to suggest other options and voice their support or protest of the NDCBU, but that time has passed and the post office didn’t receive any more input, so they are moving forward with the new boxes.

This didn’t come with some uncertainty, though. Last week U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp-D released statements concerning post offices in Amidon and Halladay. Heitkamp has been an adamant supporter of the rural postal services through her Fix My Mail initiative, and has encouraged the U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to take action in protecting quality service to those town.

Slope County Auditor Lorrie Buzalsky said the county thought it was a done deal, but then they weren’t quite sure when Heitkamp started to discuss the situation.

Prior to Heitkamp’s communitcaiton, Buzalsky said the commissioners had already given approval to house the NDCBU on courthouse property. The new concrete slab has reportedly been poured, and ready for the unit.

Amidon Mayor Lois Merkel said that she received a call from Heitkamp’s representatives on Thursday, Oct. 20, the same day she received a confirmation letter regarding the NDCBU. Merkel said the representatives wanted to know about the town.

“They just called me,” Merkel said. “They just wanted to know about the town.”

Merkel said the problem Amidon faces—and something she communicated with Heitkamp’s office—is two fold. First, the limited amount of real estate, or land for lease, makes it hard to place a building. The second issue is trying to find someone to work the desk.

“There’s nobody that’s going to work,” Merkel said of the limited workforce in Amidon.

As Amidon moves forward with the boxed units, the projected timeline, according to sources out of the Bowman Post Office—where operations had been temporarily been moved—residents could have access to their mail at the NDCBU by Nov. 5.

Initial plans were to place the unit just outside of the front door, in a space where the county currently has a bench resting. But the commissioners decided to have it moved to the west side of the building near the garages, because of the easier access with the handicap ramp near by.

Buzalsky said the commissioners approved the location at a prior meeting, but said that they will approve the final, paper agreement with the USPS at the November meeting.

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