New Marshall post office promises splinter-free mail

Posted: Sunday, March 18, 2001

MARSHALL (AP) -- There's a new bell to ring in town these days.

Marshall's new post office opened its doors at the end of January featuring modern accessories like a bell-button on the wall for its customers and a mail chute that doesn't give customers slivers.

Everyone in the Yukon River village 400 miles west of Anchorage loves to ring the bell, Postmaster Mary Theresa Elia told the Tundra Drum.

Whenever Elia is working in the back area, and sometimes even when she's not, she hears the now-familiar tone.

''Even when I'm standing right here behind the counter, they go and ring the bell,'' she said.

Elia almost glows when she talks about the new building. She has been postmaster in Marshall for nearly six years and she knows what it was like to work out of a small room in City Hall, where the old post office was located.

''I would have to call around to people when their boxes came in,'' Elia said. ''Especially the grocery store boxes, because of the small storage space.''

The City Hall, once used as the Marshall Bureau of Indian Affairs School, was purchased by the state for a dollar, said Mayor Ray Alstrom. The post office occupied the front room of the building, separated from city offices by a hallway.

The hallway has been removed and the old post office space is being remodeled into an extra room for the city. Alstrom said he looks forward to finally having a place to hold meetings, instead of trying to cram chairs into his own office space.

''We used to have our monthly city council meetings right in my office, which got a bit crowded,'' Alstrom said.

The new post office was barged to Marshall as a modular building. It is operated almost exclusively by Elia with the help of two postmaster replacement workers.

It has taken Elia time to get used to the amount of new space in which she has to work.

''I'm very happy with the new post office,'' she said. ''Sometimes I lose a package because it's so big. I forget where I put it down.''

Now there are plenty of shelves and storage space for stacking boxes. The front room alone is about the same size as the old one-room post office. There is also a bathroom and running water.

''We look forward to coming to check our mail,'' said Marshall resident Rena Andrew. ''It doesn't look as dirty and gross to come in and check mail. I just didn't trust the old one because it didn't look good.''

The new mail-drop box also is popular. Andrews said the old post office had a wooden mail chute that gave people splinters.

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