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Mattawa P.O. boxes will be removed; Postal window to remain open

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | January 19, 2022 1:00 AM

MATTAWA — Mattawa residents won’t have access to post office boxes after Jan. 31 at the U.S. Postal Service contractor in Mattawa.

The announcement of the post office box removal prompted Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-WA, to send a letter to the USPS asking for what he called a justification for the decision.

In a letter Jan. 11, Newhouse said he was opposed to the decision and asked how the USPS reached it.

“Numerous constituents of mine oppose the decision made by the USPS because of the potential loss of mail, the negative impact on local businesses and the undue burden placed on the most vulnerable populations within the city,” Newhouse wrote.

But Thomas Macdougall, postmaster for Royal City and Mattawa, said on Thursday Mattawa is a contract station, called a contract postal unit, and not a regular post office. He also said the P.O. boxes will be gone, but the post office window will remain. People will be able to access USPS services, like sending or receiving registered mail.

“The Mattawa Contract Postal Unit (CPU) is operated by a private individual in their place of business under contract with the U.S. Postal Service,” wrote Ernie Swanson, spokesperson for the regional USPS office in Seattle, on Thursday.

“The contractor in Mattawa sold the business earlier this year,” Swanson wrote to the Herald. “The USPS is removing post office boxes from numerous CPUs across the country. The post office boxes in the Mattawa CPU are scheduled to be removed by Jan. 31, 2022.”

Swanson also wrote the USPS still will be delivering mail in Mattawa.

“Those customers renting a P.O. box in Mattawa will have two options for receiving their mail after the change. They may have the mail delivered to their street address. Or, USPS will be installing Cluster Box Units (CBUs) at various locations in town. Locations for the CBUs are being worked out with city officials,” he wrote. “(The cluster boxes) are secure with individual, locked boxes assigned to customers. There is no charge to have mail delivered to a CBU. Outgoing mail may be delivered securely to a CBU.”

Macdougall said Friday some of the cluster boxes were installed at Mattawa-area apartment complexes and trailer parks, and are being used for delivery. Installation of other boxes around town is being delayed until warmer weather, he said.

“They (the cluster boxes) will be grouped together in a neighborhood,” Macdougall said.

Two separate clusters are planned for the business district along Government Road, he said. And each cluster will have multiple banks of P.O. boxes.

Street address delivery will begin Feb. 1. Previously, it was not available in Mattawa.

The city will have two delivery routes, Macdougall said. Desert Aire has one delivery route, and a second is being added. The Mattawa-area rural route may be split into two routes, he said. The rural routes also are being expanded, with carriers delivering to addresses they hadn’t delivered to previously.

“We’re reaching out and going further,” Macdougall said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.