FAIRBANKS — The village of Fort Yukon has been struck by intermittent mail service during the past few weeks, resulting in trouble obtaining prescriptions, paychecks and paying bills.
The village’s post office was open Monday and Tuesday this week but has been closed since, without a confirmed date to next provide mail service. The office was closed three days last week.
Instead of receiving prescriptions daily, Yukon Flats Health Center now relies on weekly shipments delivered via commercial airlines. Day-to-day business for local residents also has been stymied.
“I can’t send my deposits. I can’t pay my bills,” said resident Virginia Alexander, who runs a bed and breakfast in the village of almost 600 people, located 145 air miles northeast of Fairbanks.
The reason for the spotty service is that the community has been without a career postmaster or a local relief postmaster to process mail, according to Dawn Peppinger, marketing manager for the U.S. Postal Service in Alaska. The postal service has been bringing in a relief postmaster to at least provide occasional service.
Relief postmasters usually are local residents who step in to process mail when no postmaster is available. Peppinger estimated it’s been more than a year since a postmaster has been stationed at Fort Yukon.
Peppinger said the postal service strives to continue mail service as best as possible.
“We need someone from the community to step up and want to work for the post office,” she said. The service has three applicants for postmaster, and Peppinger hopes interviews will soon follow.
Peppinger said the starting wage for postmaster relief is $11.76 per hour with a 25 percent of salary, tax-free cost of living payment. The position of relief postmaster also has the opportunity to turn into a career postmaster, Peppinger said.
In 2014, the postal service announced shorter hours for rural Alaska offices but hoped to only reduce Fort Yukon’s operations to six hours per day.
If the postal service can’t provide mail service today, they hope to by Monday.
“Try to get someone in at least once per week,” Peppinger said.
Contact staff writer Robin Wood at 459-7510. Follow him on Twitter: