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Inquiry triggers closure of Gales Creek post office

Inspector General looks into unspecified issue


The Gales Creek Post Office was closed last Tuesday following a preliminary investigation into operations at the small outpost, housed in the Gales Creek General Store.

On Oct. 4, the Inspector General’s office of the U.S. Postal Service began an inquiry into the post following an unspecified “allegation.”

John Masters, public information officer for the office’s western region, said he couldn’t provide details about the inquiry, but did say that anything the office investigates generally falls under the categories of waste, fraud abuse of the mail.

“It’s too early to say whether or not this is a case that would have any criminal aspects to it,” Masters said.

If the probe uncovers potential criminal activity, the Inspector General’s office would turn the information over to law enforcement.

The sudden closure troubled Gales Creek residents who rely on the shop for easy access to a post office box or postage stamps. The move forced many postal customers to make an unplanned trip to Forest Grove for their mail.

“Number one, we’re concerned because there are a lot of elderly people who live out there who don’t drive into Forest Grove very often,” said Debi Delamarter, who attends church in Gales Creek.

Barry Seltzer, Forest Grove postmaster and supervisor of the Gales Creek site, wasn’t surprised that residents were upset by the closure.

“I understand where they were coming from because it came with virtually no notice,” Seltzer said.

Closure likely temporary

Seltzer said the closure is likely temporary, until postal management makes a determination about the site’s future.

If postal managers don’t think the post office should reopen at the store, they may look for another site, Seltzer said.

Unlike the post offices in Forest Grove, Banks and Gaston, the Gales Creek site is operated by a contractor and employs no postal workers. The name of the contractor wasn’t available on Tuesday.

U.S. Rep. David Wu’s office is aware of the situation and,in a prepared statement, offered up the idea of changing contractors in order to reopen the site.

“One potential solution may be a new postal contractor, a possibility that arose during my office’s initial conversations with the postal service,” Wu said.

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