Pend Oreille postal tradition carries on - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Pend Oreille postal tradition carries on

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Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2013 10:00 am

BAYVIEW — Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night stays postal couriers’ swift completion of their appointed rounds on the remote southern portion of Lake Pend Oreille.

Seventy-mile-an-hour wind gusts and the intense waves they whip up are another matter.

“You don’t realize how rough the weather can be until you’re buried in it. It will come up fast,” said Scott Bjergo, who’s under contract with the U.S. Postal Service to collect and deliver mail by boat to some of the most far-flung portions of the 148-square-mile lake.

The lake’s famously abrupt and furious storms are about the only thing that will keep Bjergo from shoving off at Bayview to make stops on his route, which ranges from 38 to 21 miles depending on the day of the week.

Bjergo serves about 30 year-round residents scattered between Lakeview, Cedar Creek, Whiskey Rock, Granite Creek and Kilroy Bay — small outposts etched into the rugged eastern shoreline of the lake’s south arm. The number of customers grows to around 40 during the summer season.

Bjergo successfully bid for the route after the retirement of John Thaxter, who did the rounds for 17 years.

Most of customers skew toward retirement age and beyond, although Bjergo said there are no full-on recluses.

“They all just want to be out in the quiet and they’re all generally nice,” said Bjergo.

Some of the areas, such as Lakeview, bustled and teemed with hundreds of residents during a mining boom in the late 1800s, but are now home to only a handful of people.

Although some live in modest, or in some cases rudimentary, cabins most either have phone, satellite TV, cellphones or some combination thereof. Mail delivery, however, hasn’t changed substantially.

Each hamlet has a mail captain who is appointed to help coordinate pickups and deliveries with their neighbors. The only newfangled twist is Bjergo’s encouragement of the use of text messaging to facilitate mail drops and pickups.

Bjergo knows his customers by name and has biscuits at the ready for dogs who accompany their owners to the dock. He knows which docks have bumpers and which ones don’t.

Pamela Haussler rode from the home she shares with her husband in an upland meadow on a mule to meet Bjergo.

“Everybody here gets along,” Haussler said as she showed off the century-old Lakeview post office, which held a wood stove and a small collection of residential roadside mailboxes.

The mail is the primary reason Bjergo is out there, but he’s also helped broken down boaters, rescued gassed kayakers who underestimate distances and packed out bear hunters’ quarry and their exhausted hounds.

Bjergo is working toward a captain’s license that will allow him to transport people for money, but in the meantime he picks up a few extra bucks delivering groceries and UPS packages, and caretaking people’s isolated cabins.

The best part of the job?

“Getting to ride in a boat every day,” said Bjergo.

The worst?

“Getting to ride in a boat every day,” Bjergo said without hesitation.

Bjergo said the postal service contract provides about a quarter of his income. He also has an ownership interest in the Boileaus Shores Marina, works as an on-call aircraft mechanic in Hayden and runs Bayview Mercantile.

Bjergo won’t get rich from the mail route, but as far as corner offices go, you’d be hard-pressed to beat the panoramic views aboard the 22-foot Duckworth boat he uses to make his rounds.

On Monday, it was sunny and temperatures were in the 80s as Bjergo conservatively motored back toward Bayview, conditions which stood in contrast to last year’s spring weather.

“This time last year, it was a rodeo,” Bjergo said.

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7 comments:

  • kenu lorsen posted at 11:05 am on Sat, Jan 24, 2015.

    kenu lorsen Posts: 5

    It doesn't matter that the number of letters handled by the Postal Service have dropped so fast these past five years, their services will never die! The Postal Office should be always prepared for its customers. Having office supplies and printer supplies bought from Pitney Bowes Store is mandatory, no matter what!

     
  • millicater posted at 4:46 am on Sun, Dec 28, 2014.

    millicater Posts: 17

    These days the courier services are often used, instead postal services have begun to lose their reputation. Of course, if someone wants to send a package in another city, he must find the best services from his neighborhood. For instance, the courier service in Santa Monica has a good reputation and increasingly more people have started to use Santa Monica Express Company because the workers are prompt and take good care of every package.

     
  • crazysony posted at 9:13 am on Tue, Dec 23, 2014.

    crazysony Posts: 2

    This is a well written and interesting post! Running a business that provides postal services is great as it might bring you a lot of benefits. Moreover there are a lot of people interested in working in this field and you won't have troubles in finding employees. However when running a business, regardless of the field of activity, it is recommended to think in paying for a bid bond insurance policy in order to feel safe.

     
  • millicater posted at 2:00 pm on Sat, Dec 20, 2014.

    millicater Posts: 17

    Indeed, in some regions postal services are still in vogue, but in big cities, where everything must be done quickly, these services have become less used. Instead, there are new technologies that are helping the employees, like transcription equipment, e-mail services and Internet connection, etc. These represent the future, while the postal services or any other similar services are left behind.

     
  • logician posted at 7:27 am on Thu, Dec 18, 2014.

    logician Posts: 12

    In a world where everyone is using the online environment to communicate or to order things, the classic mail delivery is considered quite vintage and romantic by some people. If you visit http://premiersalesonline.com you will see an example for sales that are done online. But there are still small companies that are using the postal couriers in order to keep their customers satisfied.

     
  • Shaeleigh Bright posted at 9:20 am on Tue, Dec 2, 2014.

    Shaeleigh Bright Posts: 4

    It's true what they say that you haven't really experienced extreme weather until you've been to Pend Oreille, and postal workers have to face everything from seventy-mile-an-hour winds to hailstorms, to deliver the mail. People wonder why in today's world of smartphones and direct mail marketing we still rely so much on postal services, but no matter how far technology will advance we'll always need ways to send written letters.

     
  • Postman56 posted at 8:31 pm on Thu, May 9, 2013.

    Postman56 Posts: 1

    Hi Scott , the Gold's from Canada, how are things? We see Scott everyday when we are over at our property
    when down staying in Cedar Creek and we gotta give kudo's to Scott for battling the big waves like we saw last year on the lake' yet the mail must go through and it does!
    Scott's a very accommodating guy and the tradition couldn't of been passed on to a better local fella!
    See you again at the store for a cold one!
    Maureen and Ken