Hungry Horse News: Things looking up for Coram Post Office's future

by Chris Peterson

Things are looking up for the post office in Coram.

After a petition drive by hundreds of residents and a letter by Montana Sen. Jon Tester last week, it appears the post office will not close at the end of the month.

“We’ve had a huge amount of community support,” said manager Dana Miller.

Like many small Post offices across the country, the post office in Coram is independently contracted.

For years the contract was held by local businessman Matt Kinsella, but Kinsella declined to renew the contract and according to Miller and residents, the Postal Service over the past year, hasn’t been cooperative in working with other potential contractors.

At one, Miller said, Kinsella was paying Miller out of his own pocket to keep the post office open.

But local businessman Gary Paduana has been in negotiations with the Postal Service and while nothing had been signed as of early this week, it sounded like things were moving in a positive direction. If a deal isn’t struck, the Coram post office was slated to close at the end of the month.

Residents noted they need a post office in Coram for a variety of reasons. If the post office were to close, they would have to travel to West Glacier or Columbia Falls if they wanted a post office box. But the community has a lot of older residents who rely on the post office for medications and other important mail.

Driving through the Canyon was untenable, they said.

However, the Postal Service had planned to put up what it calls centralized boxing units – big boxes with multiple individual post boxes that sit outside.

But residents claimed the Postal Service didn’t order enough of them – only about 170. Plus, they wanted to put them on private property, but not pay the property owners to have them on the lot and to make sure they were snow-free in the winter.

The Coram post office has about 373 people using its boxes, Miller noted.

The post office is also more than just about mail, folks note. It’s a community gathering place. In just a half hour or so last week, a half dozen people stopped by, all them neighbors, all of them friends.

“Coram residents who have contacted my office unanimously oppose closing the post office and are strongly opposed to any potential installation of cluster boxes in its place,” Tester noted in his letter to Eduardo Ruiz, Vice President of Western Area Operations for the Postal Service.

On Monday, Montana Sen. Steve Daines also urged the Postal Service to keep the post office open.

“Coram is a busy gateway to Glacier National Park and in an effort to avoid any disruption in service, I urge you to promptly review and provide all due consideration to the bid put forward by a member of the community, which I recently conveyed to Postal Service headquarters,” he said.