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Murrow College of Communication at WSU

Struggle with mail service continues in rural Idaho

By: Damien Alvardo and Brinkley Hill

DEARY, IDAHO – Residents in Deary, Idaho are happy to have their post office back but issues remain.

The rural area with a population of more than 500 people has dealt with postal issues since 2019. The newest issue includes receiving late mail, the post office closing early, and some days no mail at all.

“We’re getting it at least four days a week I’d say and if we don’t get it we go okay we didn’t get it today so then we come into the post office,” Deary Resident Pam Laboulle said.

When the original building that housed the post office was deemed unsuitable on June 12, 2019. The U.S. Postal Service then brought in a mobile retail van that was considered a temporary office.

Two years later, in the summer of 2022, residents were forced to drive 12 miles to the Troy, Idaho post office because USPS removed the van. A new building located on Line St. was refurbished and opened to the public last fall.

“I have family members who work in Moscow and they’re not able to come get their mail during the day when the post office is open,” Deary Resident Brittany Griffin said.   “So what happens is maybe they have like three days of mail stacked up.”

The Deary Post Office workers declined to comment on the issue but U.S Postal Service Corporate Communications responded in an email to KREM.

“The Postal Service apologizes for any inconvenience to our customers. It’s no secret the Postal Service is facing staffing issues throughout Idaho and across the country. The rural routes have been hit especially hard from staffing losses during the pandemic,” Strategic Specialist Kim Frum responded in an email. 

She also added that most short-staffed locations often have to “borrow” employees from other offices that have a full staff. Some of those locations include other rural cities such as Bovill, and Elk River, Idaho. 

USPS has tens of thousands of rural delivery routes serviced by about 133,000 rural letter carriers. For some of those routes, employees are provided with postal vehicles as inventory allows but most rural carriers are required to use their own vehicles for mail delivery.

The USPS website says rural carriers receive an equipment allowance in addition to regular pay and offers stability, competitive wages and benefits, and career advancement opportunities.

But community members say it does not outline what the work week is and what the “equipment allowance” is.

“Any benefits/incentives offered are contractually negotiated on a national level with the appropriate unions,” Frum responded when asked what specific incentives are being given to these workers.

The frustration of the community is ongoing but many have come to an understanding that all they can do is support the workers at this time.

“I think some credit should be given to the workers at the post office for everything they’re doing for trying to step up to alleviate it,” Laboulle said.



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