Mail service interrupted by tribal road conditions in Fallon
Nevada Appeal News Service
FALLON – Poor conditions on two tribal roads have forced the U.S. Postal Service to stop delivering mail to two dozen residents.
Cliff DeLude, officer in charge at Fallon’s main post office, and Susan Keller-Smith, transportation coordinator for the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, went door-to-door Thursday to deliver explanatory letters to residents on Hicks and Reservation roads. The letter states the mail service has “discontinued mail delivery to your residence due to deteriorating road conditions.”
Both Hicks and Reservation roads lie on the tribal reservation and are considered tribal roads.
In the meantime, mail is being held for two dozen residents at the Pony Express post office on Allen Road at no charge.
Members of the tribal administration and representatives from the postal service met on Wednesday morning to discuss the situation and attempt to find a possible solution.
“Part of the problem is that Reservation Road is terrible,” said tribal Vice Chairwoman Rochanne Downs. “But the problem is that the roads are Bureau of Indian Affairs’ responsibility.”
Downs said the Fallon tribe only receives about $10,000 per year for road maintenance from the BIA, and the tribal council holds roads as one of its top priorities to ensure mail service and for safety reasons.
“The tribe just doesn’t have the resources,” Downs said. “We’ve been trying to remedy this problem for a number of years.”
She said Chairman Alvin Moyle has met with BIA officials over the past few years, and the tribe has sent letters up the chain of command, but to no avail.
“The only way to get more money is from Congress,” Downs said.
Downs said the tribe will hold a public meeting Tuesday with affected residents to decide how to solve the issue. She said some residents may prefer having a post office box in town, while others may prefer community, apartment-style locking boxes in a convenient location.
DeLude said a similar problem on nearby Clark Lane was resolved when residents grouped their mailboxes at the intersection with Stillwater Road. He said the carrier received damage to her vehicle from the poor road conditions, and the postal service deemed the road hazardous.
While Clark Lane is not a tribal road, it is neither a county road.
Patti Lingenfelter, Churchill County road department supervisor, said Clark Lane has a public easement, but it is considered a private road and residents are responsible for maintenance.
Lingenfelter said residents on private roads would have to pay to bring their road up to county specifications – meaning pavement – before being considered as a county-maintained road.