Crested Butte not yet in same post office boat as Buena Vista

Free PO Boxes here with a new facility?

[  By Mark Reaman  ]

Starting in January of 2023 the Buena Vista Post Office will offer free PO Box service to qualified Buena Vista residents, and some Crested Butte area residents would like to see a similar decision made here. Buena Vista residents were being charged $166 a year or more for their Post Office boxes. 

According to the Ark Valley Voice, “the decision was reached after a review conducted by the United States Postal Service, Buena Vista Postmaster James Wood, Congressional Representatives, and the Town of Buena Vista, as well as a strong community push… approved customers may experience a downgrade in box size, and they may be constrained to accept General Delivery if there are not enough PO Boxes to go around.”

The Crested Butte News reached out to see if Crested Butte Postal Service customers might expect the same change in service since local customers in this area are charged a fee to have a PO Box. The answer appears to be a bit opaque but there is an indication that it is being considered. 

“We’re currently evaluating various criteria for Crested Butte Post Office Box holders that take into account local laws, physical barriers, access to rural delivery etc. and reviewing who is eligible for Group E (Free) no fee Post Office Boxes in the future,” responded James Boxrud, strategic communications specialist for the Western Area of the USPS in an email this week. “As you know in Crested Butte, we are actively seeking a new location that will provide adequate space needed for this growing community.”

Boxrud said the USPS has been a longtime institution in Crested Butte and wants to remain a partner in the community. “Crested Butte was established as a town in 1878 and was incorporated in 1880 and we’ve been there since the very beginning,” he wrote. “The people within the town limits traditionally have received their mail at the Post Office box. In fact, the majority of Colorado’s towns do not have city delivery and the Post Office box or general delivery is how mail is received. To illustrate that fact, within 100 miles of driving distance from Crested Butte there are only four towns that have either city or rural delivery: Buena Vista, Aspen, Leadville and Salida.”

As is commonly understood, Boxrud said the employee shortage situation is a huge factor in the Crested Butte area. “In Crested Butte we are not fully staffed, we continue flexing our available resources, maximizing our local personnel and augmenting from the surrounding region to help with the workload,” he explained. “We are proud of the efforts of postal employees in Colorado and the nation, as they define essential public service every day.”

He said the USPS is actively hiring personnel and that could help alleviate some of the local issues. To apply: Go to usps.com/careers, click on “Search Jobs,” select “Colorado,” click “Start,” then click on the link for the appropriate job. He noted that a general overview of USPS employment requirements, specific job requirements and hourly pay is available at the website. Other positions are also available including mail handler assistant, mail processing clerk, and more. Job postings are updated weekly, so check frequently for additional opportunities.

“We are actively hiring throughout Colorado to include our mountain communities,” he emphasized. “We have numerous positions available in almost all of Colorado and we encourage all interested applicants to apply. These are great jobs that can quickly lead to career opportunities with full benefits, including paid annual and sick leave, holiday pay, health care, retirement and other benefits.”

As for the idea of obtaining free PO boxes at the current or future Crested Butte Post Office facility, it might happen at some point but there is no definitive date expected for an announcement.

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