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Senators prefer calls, e-mail


October 25, 2001

However, Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., can't go back to his office in the Hart Office Building, where a letter containing anthrax spores was discovered last week. The Hart Building is closed indefinitely for decontamination.

For people in this area, Wellstone's Willmar office is open and operating pretty much as usual, as are his two other Minnesota offices.

In Washington, Wellstone is using his small office in the Capitol, which was once Daniel Webster's wine cellar. Wellstone's staff is also using Dayton's conference room and his currently unused mailroom.

"It's been a discombobulating week," Dayton said. "I think we all appreciate our office much more than a week ago."

Dayton said Congress won't be getting mail delivery until a new screening system is in place.

"We are breaking totally new ground here," Dayton said, and it could be some time before mail service is resumed to Capitol offices.

Allison Dobson, Wellstone's press secretary, said Wellstone's staff members are doing their best to keep working, though it's difficult when they are separated from their own offices.

While it is inconvenient, "it certainly is a small imposition," she said. "We're happy to take the recommendations of law enforcement."

Tom Meium, director of the Willmar office, said the office's work hasn't changed much. Office employee Mary Ryan said calls to the office haven't changed much since Sept. 11.

"We're still doing our jobs, and there are still people calling on all sorts of issues," he said. "That hasn't changed at all."

Getting information may take a few extra steps because it can be more difficult to reach Wellstone's Washington staff, he said, but people have been very patient.

"We're trying to do the best we can," he said. "People have been understanding that things are going slower in some cases."

Meium said people in the area can call the Willmar office. Though Meium and Ryan are often away from the office at meetings, they'll get back to people who leave messages for them, he said.

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To reach Dayton's office in Washington, call 202-224-3244 or fax to 202-228-2186. To reach the Fort Snelling office, call 612-727-5220 or fax 612-727-5223.

To reach Wellstone's Washington office, call 202-224-5641. In Minnesota, call 231-0001 or fax 231-0006 to reach the Willmar office. To reach the St. Paul office call 651-645-0323 or 1-800-642-6041 or fax 651-645-0704.

To send e-mails, go to their Web sites, wellstone.senate.gov or dayton.senate.gov and use the form on the Web site to send an e-mail.

By Linda Vanderwerf Copyright © West Central Tribune 2001


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