Wainwright post office closed indefinitely due to staffing issues

Wainwright post office closed indefinitely due to staffing issues
Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 7:08 PM AKDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2023 at 7:48 PM AKDT
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WAINWRIGHT, Alaska (KTUU) - The City of Wainwright’s post office has been closed for over three weeks, leaving residents frustrated.

According to Mayor Chester Ekak, the post office is closed until further notice. The postmaster left their position in mid-May, leaving the job vacant. The United States Postal Service is working to send postal employees from Utqiagvik to fill in temporarily.

Ekak said local businesses are feeling the effects of the post office closure.

“I’ve heard from one of the store employees that they were running out of an item, and they were making people aware that this is the last of that certain item. And once you see it gone, it’s gone until the post office can reopen and they can resupply their stock,” Ekak said.

Businesses aren’t the only ones dealing with disruptions, as many residents — some of whom want to apply for jobs at the post office — are feeling disconnected.

“Some residents are frustrated because we have people who are trying to apply or waiting to see that position open up on USPS’s website for job opportunities. And since the last postmaster left, we have not heard anything or those that applied did not hear anything about the position they applied for,” Ekak said.

In an email, USPS spokesperson James Boxrud apologized for the closure.

“We know we have not met service expectations of the community and are working hard to restore the respect of the public,” Boxrud said. “For many months, we have been aggressively seeking employees to stabilize our workforce. These challenges are not unique to our remote locations in Alaska. The advent of the pandemic, the increase of consumer use of ordering necessities online and the national employment challenges have exacerbated this for many communities. We will continue flexing our available resources and augmenting from the surrounding region to help with the workload.”

Boxrud also said there are numerous USPS positions available throughout rural Alaska, including in Wainwright. Of the five positions listed on the USPS careers website, only two roles are in rural locations and none are in Wainwright.