Coastal communities in Southcentral to lose mail service

Posted: Monday, September 25, 2000

CORDOVA (AP) -- Cape Yakataga is about to lose its mail service.

The village and five other small coastal settlements southeast of Cordova won't have mail service as of Oct. 1 because the air carrier that services the area no longer wants to fly there.

For decades, the villages have relied on mail planes to get the goods they need and mail to where they live.

''We get our groceries and medicine that way,'' said Jenanne Kirchmeier, an artist living in the neighborhood. ''We weren't even given any warning on this so we'd have time to get our winter supplies.''

''We get everything by mail,'' said Lea Higgins whose husband, Ron, works for a local logging operation. ''We just finished a bathroom with supplies that we ordered from Plumbline (Plumbing and Heating) in Cordova. Cordova is where is go when I want to see a doctor or dentist, too.''

Postal officials say it's not their fault.

''This was not precipitated by the post office,'' said Steve Deaton, Western area transit manager for the postal service.

''When we got the notification of termination of service, we just assumed that somebody was going to schedule service into the community, but nobody did,'' said Dwight Stampfle, post office operations manger for Alaska's Southcentral coast.

The area has been serviced by the Cordova air charter service Fishing and Flying.

Lisa Bern, co-owner of Jim Air in Anchorage, said she wants the route.

Even if Jim Air or some other 401-certified air carrier files for a route along the Southcentral coast, they probably won't get to deliver the mail in time to help the little coastal towns. Any disruption in service will require the communities to reapply for mail service.

Bob Lochman, transportation manager for the postal service in Alaska, said the situation along the Southcentral coast is hardly unique.

''If a person chooses to live somewhere remote, like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where there is no postal service, they have to make other arrangements,'' Lochman said.

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