DORA — No P. O. Box, no problem.
Dora residents frustrated about returned mail heard good news Tuesday night when state post office officials promised to deliver mail as long as it made it to Dora.
The decision presented to some 20 Dora residents at the Dora Community Center comes after months of feuding between Dora postmaster Susan Parker and residents there, who complained Parker was too much a stickler for postal guidelines. Those guidelines state that mail not addressed properly be returned to the sender.
Dora residents said in the past Parker would return mail, even though she knew who the mail was meant for and to what P. O. Box it belonged.
“If your mail makes it to Dora and we know where it goes, we will put it in your box,” Jerry Harger, Parker’s supervisor, promised Tuesday night.
The problem with mail nationwide, Harger explained, is that computers have taken over and don’t recognize all rural roads.
“I don’t know how you guys feel about computers, but I think they should be used as boat anchors,” Harger said. “Any little problem, and the computer rejects the mail.”
For example, Harger said the Internal Revenue Service only mails to a physical address, as do many businesses. But since computers don’t recognize all rural roads, Harger said receiving the mail can be a complicated process.
Dora resident Scotty Watson said he was late on paying a $9,000 bill because the invoice was returned to the business for three months as it was lacking a P. O. Box address.
“If I can’t get my mail to pay my bills,” Watson said, “my credit (rating) goes down and it becomes difficult to get business loans.”
Watson said he eventually had to ask the business owners to fax him the bill.
Several other residents were concerned about their mail at the meeting, including Spook Wilcher, who didn’t understand why Parker would return mail if she knew whose it was.
Wilcher said the new Dora mail system “is good news.”
Parker apologized for not working with Dora residents, even though postal guidelines prompted her actions.
Harger noted that the U.S. Postal Service has undergone many changes over the years, further complicating matters for rural communities.
In northern New Mexico, Harger said there are several rural community residents having difficulty receiving mail not addressed to P. O. Boxes. In those areas, one being Chama, postmasters have decided to return mail incorrectly addressed.
Chama being a bigger community than Dora and having many residents with the same last name played into that decision, Harger noted.
Harger said he couldn’t promise that out-of-state mail would be delivered if it never makes it to Albuquerque, where computers recognize the Village of Dora.
In areas outside of the state, computers will not recognize insufficient mailing addresses, meaning mail to Dora residents should have both physical and P. O. Box addresses to maximize delivery.
“I can remember when we could bring mail addressed to the little red barn behind the trailer,” Harger said. “But that’s not the case anymore.”