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Bemidji's U.S. Postal Service processing center on list to close in 2015

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji mail processing center is planned to close sometime in 2015, United States Postal Service officials said Wednesday.

USPS spokesperson Pete Nowacki confirmed the Bemidji customer service mail processing center, or CSMPC, is one of 82 satellite mail processing facilities that will be absorbed into larger facilities as part of a nationwide “network rationalization.”

The Bemidji Post Office itself will be unaffected, Nowacki said. The Bemidji processing center, along with facilities in Duluth, St. Cloud and Mankato, will merge with either the Minneapolis or the St. Paul processing and distribution centers. Bemidji’s local mail will be processed by the Minneapolis facility.

USPS plans to begin the nationwide consolidation process in January and complete it by fall of 2015.  

“We do not know the order in which these consolidations will take place or the specific details for each facility at this time,” Nowaki said in an email to the Pioneer. “(T)here will be more detailed information about all the impacted facilities in the coming weeks. This is a first step in the process.”

On its website, under its “FAQ” page about the consolidation process, the Postal Service said similar rounds of consolidations in the past were conducted without layoffs and it will do its best to avoid layoffs again.   

“Every effort will be made to reassign impacted employees when implementing... the current consolidation plan,” the page read.

The average time it takes first-class mail to reach its destination will increase from 2.14 days to 2.25 days, Nowacki said.

Bemidji Postmaster Brett Boysen referred questions about the move to Nowacki. A total of 67 employees work at the Bemidji facility, including the post office and processing center. It is unknown how many will be impacted, but a 2012 Pioneer article put the number of processing employees at six.

The Bemidji processing center was previously threatened with closure in 2012, but USPS gave Bemidji and other facilities a reprieve in order to further study the impacts of closing.

In response to the potential closures in 2012, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., added a measure to a pending postal reform bill that would create an appeals process whereby a community could stop the closure if it could provide a compelling case to federal regulators. The bill passed in the Senate but the House did not consider the bill, as Franken noted in a statement Wednesday.

“Last Congress, I helped push bipartisan legislation through the Senate to restore financial stability to the Postal Service and keep Minnesota processing centers open. It's a shame that the House didn't even consider the bill,” his statement Wednesday read. “I'll be urging the Postmaster General to reconsider these closures, and I’ll continue to work to pass common sense postal reform legislation as soon as possible.”

In a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe also dated Wednesday, Franken said although USPS faces financial difficulties the network rationalization plan “will only cause more harm” citing the closure of a site in Rochester as an example.

“I’ve heard from my constituents that...a letter sent from one Rochester address to another in the same city now travels all the way to the Twin Cities, and can take up to 11 days to get back down to Rochester,” the letter reads. “There’s nothing rational about that.”

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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