Some neighbors with disabilities are paying for mail in Kewaskum

Posted at 6:08 PM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-16 23:27:21-04

Most of us get our bills and packages for free, but in some communities neighbors have to pay the post office so they can pay their bills.

The I-Team discovered those people don't get a choice, sometimes even when they're living with disabilities.

The US Postal Service website says it reaches "every address in the nation."But in Kewaskum, that's not the case.

The TODAY's TMJ4 Call 4 Action office heard from multiple people with disabilities who can hardly access their mailboxes though they're forced to pay for them.

Michelle Harrington is one of those callers. She moved into a house on Main St. in Kewaskum only to learn she didn't have a mailbox.

"The city government, the IRS, your tax returns, everything comes through the mail, so how do you just not get mail?" she asked.

Her father-in-law is a marine veteran living with disability.

"So you fight for the freedom to buy a house and live on a street in Kewaskum and you can't get your mail without paying for it and you're barely making ends meet," she said.

Harrington called the village and the Postal Service.

"The City is saying that the post office needs to tell them where they're going to put it and then they will approve it or deny it. And the post office is telling me that they won't let them put it up," she explained.

Harrington helped her in-laws prove their disability, she continued to make calls-- including to Call 4 Action. After a year of pursuing a mail box, a direct delivery mailbox went up for Bev and Clay Harrington. Harrington is relieved they can now get medications without worrying about getting to the post office to check their box.

But, Harrington isn't letting this go. Because if she wasn't paying for a PO Box, she and her husband would have no way of getting their mail.

So what's the problem?

  • Kewaskum Ordinance banned stand-alone mailboxes in the early 2000's
  • Neighbors can have cluster mailboxes on side streets. Unfortunately, all the spots near the Harringtons are full.
  • The Post Office offers free PO Boxes people within a quarter-mile of the post office, which the Harringtons are. However, Main St. is excluded.

"No matter how many times I've tried I really don't know where to start," she said.

We tried to talk with the Kewaskum Postmaster and offered to drive to Illinois to talk to the Postal Service there. Both requests were denied. Kewaskum's administrator, who Harrington tried working with also wouldn't do an interview. The Village Board President, Kevin Scheunemann, would.

"If we clear the way then that person still needs to ask the post office to commit to delivery. And I'll be honest with you, the federal agency could still say no," he said.

In an email, the Postal Service writes:"the local office is looking to change this by providing no-fee PO Box service." It said customers should contact the local Post Office with concerns.

Another resident with a disability who can't get her mail delivered tells the I-Team she did just that.

"They said that they saw me there with other people that can come here and get it and if I had someone else that comes there or anyone who lives in my house that can come there they are supposed to do it," she said.

She said she felt discouraged by the conversation, but said since she requested disability paperwork, the Post Office has dropped off mail to her door occasionally.

Both women intend to pursue plans with the Village for boxes closer to their homes. The Postal Service said it's "speculative" if the village approves the boxes or not, so it can't say if it will approve delivery. But, a representative said USPS works with local governments on delivery operations.