Working behind the scenes, Ricci Roberts, branch president of the Cheyenne mail handling unit, believes the public outcry, after it was announced Cheyenne’s mail service is being downgraded, is beginning to gain some traction.
The U.S. Postal Service earlier this month announced a proposal to downgrade Cheyenne’s mail processing from a processing and distribution center, and moving that work to Denver. Cheyenne would remain open, but transition to a local processing unit instead of being its own distribution center. Similar changes are proposed at a later time for Casper, with that mail processing moving to Billings instead.
The changes would leave the Cowboy State without a processing and distribution center, despite the fact it’s on a growth track with new businesses coming in across the state, as well as a multibillion-dollar upgrade of the nuclear missiles overseen by F.E. Warren Air Force Base.
In a Facebook post, Roberts wrote that the public’s efforts have been “VERY instrumental and helpful,” prompting a number of Wyoming officials to take notice.
Roberts’ post came with copies of letters written to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy outlining objections to the plans to eliminate the Cheyenne Processing and Distribution Center, as well as close the one in Casper in 2025, leaving Wyoming to rely on other states for a large portion of its mail processing.
“The effect of this is any mail leaving an immediate zip code will be processed outside of Wyoming and then returned here,” Gov. Mark Gordon wrote. “That would mean a simple delivery between Cheyenne to Casper would include a stop in Denver, Colorado, or Billings, Montana.”
An Offer To Meet
In the letter, Gordon asks DeJoy to delay downgrading the Cheyenne Processing and Distribution Center to a local processing center (LPC).
“This modernization appears to delay already good delivery times in this area to help find efficiencies elsewhere,” he wrote. “The facilities that would replace Cheyenne’s P&DC are in urban Denver, Colorado, and those facilities are not yet upgraded.”
Without any true upgrades to the Denver processing facility, Gordon suggested the plan is robbing Peter to pay Paul, and expressed willingness to meet with DeJoy to discuss his concerns further.
“Wyoming’s rural residents and small businesses depend greatly upon the U.S. Postal Service,” Gordon wrote. “Small businesses in our rural communities cannot afford delays to stay competitive in a global marketplace. I’m willing to meet with you and your staff when y ou have more data available to show that rural residents are not going to be those who bear the brunt of this new plan.”
Wyoming’s Growth Makes This A Bad Time To Cut Services
Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, has also weighed in on the changes, which she told DeJoy appear not to be taking into account the needs of growing communities in the Cowboy State.
Wyoming’s total population grew slightly more this year than last, rising by 2,428 people, or 0.4% for the fiscal year ending July 2023. This was a combination of having more births than deaths, as well as more in-migration than out.
Additionally, the state is poised to grow even more, with a forthcoming upgrade to the Minutemen III Missiles that F.E. Warren Air Force Base oversees, as well as new data centers and new manufacturers.
Lummis said Wyoming has already seen an example of how these proposed changes will go, when western Wyoming’s mail sorting activities were transferred from Rock Springs to Salt Lake City.
“Since then, mail services have been severely impacted,” she wrote. “And deliveries are often delayed by weeks.”
Lack Of Transparency Alarming
Lummis also blasted the Postal Service for what has largely been an opaque process, one that hasn’t included answers to the questions that people have.
At a recent forum to gather public comments, postal officials even told the attendees the forum’s focus was on collecting comments from the public, not answering questions. No forum has yet been set for answering any of the questions that the public has.
“I have more questions than answers about what operations will be transferred to Denver,” Lummis wrote. “While USPS has said the plan will not disrupt services, it is unclear what data or facts have supported this statement.”
In addition to the growing communities that Lummis believes will not be served well by the proposed changes, Wyoming has many rural customers who depend on reliable service for important things like medications.
“Wyoming residents deserve reliable mail service,” Lummis said. “And USPS has the responsibility to provide customers with the same level of service regardless of whether they are located in rural or urban areas.”
The changes are particularly unacceptable, Lummis added, given that Cheyenne is the capitol of the state, and its ZIP codes include entities like the F.E. Warren Air Force Base, University of Wyoming and Cheyenne VA Medical Center, in addition to “countless small businesses and families who rely on dependable mail service.”
Lummis urged DeJoy to take these factors into consideration as the postal service continues its facilities review.
Keep Speaking Up
Roberts told Cowboy State Daily that the two letters from top Wyoming officials are encouraging, and that it shows the public’s voices are being heard. She urged Wyoming residents who are concerned about the future of the Postal Service in the state to continue writing to lawmakers and postal officials to let them know about their concerns.
“I am so very thankful and proud of everyone in our community for advocating for our residents and spreading the word,” Roberts said in her Facebook post. “This is a nationwide issue and the more we can reach out and work together, the more chance we have to stop DeJoy and his 10-year plan to cut services and charge more money and hurt the communities, particularly the rural communities. We may be a small state, but we are a state, dangit! And we demand to be treated like one.”
Roberts has meanwhile been collecting additional information on how the proposed changes in Wyoming have gone in other states, to compile data to support keeping Cheyenne’s processing and distribution center.
The changes have not gone well in places like Minnesota and San Antonio, she told Cowboy State Daily.
“There was a city in Minnesota that didn’t get (letters) for an entire week,” Roberts said.
That has prompted lawmakers there to begin an inquiry on mail delivery failures, according to an article in the Minnesota Star Tribune.
Jake Williams, a Wyoming postal customer, emailed Cowboy State Daily recently an example of just how delayed he believes Wyoming postal customers’ mail could be under the new proposal.
He mailed two certified letters on Dec. 8, one to Denver and one to Tampa Bay, Florida.
“Ironically, Tampa received their letter (Dec. 15) while Denver’s is delayed,” he said. “I just wanted to show … how the Post Office is in fact gaslighting the public.”
The screenshots showed the Tampa letter had arrived at the post office around noon Dec. 15 and was “ready for pickup” while the letter to Denver, also mailed from Cheyenne, hit a Denver Distribution Center on Dec. 9, but was still in transit to the next facility as of Dec. 14, and would be arriving “late.”
Renée Jean can be reached at Renee@CowboyStateDaily.com.