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High Volume Of Mail Sparks Longer Wait Times At Bethel Post Office

Gabby Salgado

Bethel residents are waiting in line longer at the post office this summer. The reason? A huge volume of mail, according to U.S. Postal Service spokesperson James Boxrud. 

"We have higher volumes of packages right now than we do even at Christmas time," Boxrud said.

Permenant Fund Dividend checks and increasing reliance on online shopping are to blame, said Boxrud. He also said that Bethel is the largest post office hub in Alaska, because it doesn’t just serve Bethel residents.

"It has 26 offices that they, you know, transfer the mail to or other, like, village post offices. We call those downstream offices. And then they also handle the mail for three other hubs, like Aniak," Boxrud said.

Sometimes the window at the post office doesn’t open until 1 p.m. Boxrud says that’s because the weather can delay a plane, and then post office employees must sort through two plane loads of mail the next day. That, along with the extremely high volumes of mail, means that residents have to wait longer in line.

But Boxrud does have some solutions for people to help speed up the process. Boxrud says that people often just put down their physical address, making it harder for the post office to look up the P.O. Box number, which adds to the wait times. He suggested adding the post office number after the physical address. It should go "#1234," Boxrud said.

Boxrud said that the Bethel post office will be hiring another person soon.