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Post office changes in Douglas County

Many Douglas County residents have noticed a change in P.O. Box distribution and mail collection times over the past few months.

That is because the U.S. Postal Service began sorting and postmarking Douglas County area mail at their Minneapolis Processing and Distribution Center on September 7. Previously, those operations were carried out at a center in Waite Park. Peter Nowacki, a corporate communications employee from USPS, said the switch has affected the mail of ZIP Code areas 562, 563 and 564.

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“We have had to make some changes in our transportation schedules and mail processing plants, so P.O. Box distribution and mail collection times have been adjusted at post offices in this area,” Nowacki said of Douglas County in an e-mail. “This is to ensure that we continue to meet our service standards.”

The collection times for customers in Douglas County are now earlier in the afternoon than they were before the switch. Some of the new Douglas County mail collection times are 2:45 p.m. in Garfield, 3:15 p.m. in Alexandria and 3:15 p.m. in Osakis. Other than deadline changes for collection and P.O. Box pick-up times, all other operations at Douglas County post office locations have remained the same.

“With the exception of adapting to the changes in transportation schedules, there is no real change for local employees,” Nowacki said. “Assignments and duties remain essentially the same.”

Nowacki said that USPS occasionally makes changes to collection times based on its operating procedures and customer needs. A 30-day notice will be posted if any changes occur.

USPS made the decision to move some distribution operations to the Twin Cities due to declining mail volumes and growing deficits. Nowacki said consolidating these operations to larger facilities has allowed service to operate more efficiently.

A reduction of mail has created a need for USPS to find ways to operate more efficiently. First class mail volume has decreased by 60 percent over the past decade. Nowacki said alternate means of communication such as electronic bill payment, e-mail, instant messaging, fax, electronic deposits and transfers, and telephone and online ordering have contributed to the decreased use of mail.

“That’s more than 30 billion pieces per year,” he said. “At 46 cents per piece, it’s a loss of about $14 billion in revenue each year.”

USPS customers can find out more information about local mail deadlines at USPS.com.

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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