Skagway post office short on workers, long on mail

JUNEAU (AP) — With four authorized post office positions, but only one filled, the historic community of Skagway is facing a backlog in its mail delivery.

The population swells every summer with tourists and temporary workers in the town that was the gateway for the Klondike Gold Rush, but the U.S. Postal Service continues to have problems finding people who want to move the mail.

"Last week we began sending a couple of employees from Juneau to Skagway to help out with the workload there and we'll continue to do that until we can get some permanent replacements," spokesman Ernie Swanson told the Juneau Empire,

City Manager Tom Smith on Saturday went to pick up his mail and spotted 20 people in line to pick up packages.

"It was a fairly significant wait," he said.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski also visited and wrote a letter to Postmaster General Michael Donohue with her observations.

"Skagway has no pharmacy, so all medications are shipped to the community through the mail," she wrote.

Medications have not been delivered in a timely manner, she said.

Customers told her mail had stayed in the building for as long as three weeks and it can take 20 days to get priority mail.

The USPS first tried to fill Skagway vacancies in-house.

"We have been unable to find employees inside the postal service that are interested in going to work there, so we have been advertising on the outside," Swanson said.

That too has proved to be a challenge.

Skagway a year ago had the lowest unemployment rate in Alaska, with only two dozen unemployed residents of a workforce of 861.

"We're having problems getting qualified, interested parties to either apply or take the test," Swanson said.

Murkowski on Tuesday set up an email address to hear from Skagway residents about their post office concerns.

Swanson said the post office will keep sending Juneau staff to help out.

"It may take a bit of time," he said.

11/08/2016 - 2:42pm