By Jordan Wolfe
Wheeler’s post office will be open within seven to 10 days, according to Barbara Matson, the owner of the building for 35 years.
“Everything was functional within the building, except for the mold.”
Matson said aside from the installation of walls, which were removed due to the mold that had grown on them, the rest of the work to the building is cosmetic.
“The building inspector said we are fine to put walls up. There is no longer a smell or mold present.”
Matson, a Wheeler resident from 1968 to 2001, now lives in Borrego Springs, California.
“I found out I couldn’t get anything done out of town,” she said, “I flew up last week and am here until the Post Office is finished.”
The town hall meeting held last week in Wheeler, which she attended, fostered positive conversation about the future of the Post Office, according to Matson.
Peter Hass, spokesperson for the USPS, said, “Any facility that has undergone this type of repair or renovation must clear a U.S. Postal Service inspection, ensuring it is safe to reoccupy before the facility will be reopened for business. The safety of our customers and employees is of paramount importance. Once the inspection is cleared, we look forward to returning to the facility to provide postal services to Wheeler residents.”
During the Wheeler flooding, Borrego Springs had a completely different issue with their own Post Office that contributed to the issues in Wheeler.
“Borrego Springs had boxes and boxes of mail that didn’t get deliver. I think 300 pieces of mail did not get delivered on time.”
Matson received her official written notice of the building in Wheeler’s status three days late, she said, adding that she was unable to receive messages on her phone during the flooding in Oregon.
As soon as she found out about the problem in Wheeler, Matson hired a contractor to clean as best as he could, but the mold had grown.
“He said it could have been cleaned out in two days, if someone had opened the building. It only takes 40 hours for mold to grow,” Matson said.
“I’m just really really sad the people of Wheeler were unable to get their mail – especially during Christmas,” Matson said. “Optimistically, we’ll be open again next week.”