Three area post offices face possible extinctionThe United States Postal Service (USPS) has announced that some 3,700 smaller post offices will be closed in the near future, and locally, the Wright, Kerrick and Brookston post offices are among those up for consideration.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has announced that some 3,700 smaller post offices will be closed in the near future, and locally, the Wright, Kerrick and Brookston post offices are among those up for consideration.
The Kerrick community will hold a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, at the Duquette Community Hall to meet with representatives of the USPS.
“Your attendance at this meeting counts and is extremely important,” urged Kerrick City Clerk Debra Stadin. “We must let the postal service know how much we need our rural post office. Having a post office in an urban area is a convenience – in the rural area, it is a necessity. The postal service should think about downsizing in large cities instead where there is a post office every couple of blocks.”
Stadin said the USPS has indicated the needs of the rural residents of Kerrick can be met largely by their rural carrier, such as purchasing money orders and sending certified mail, but she said that is a solution far from perfect.
“Living in a rural area, there is no set time for the carrier,” said Stadin, “and in inclement weather, do they really expect people, especially seniors, to wait by their mailboxes in 25-degree-below-zero weather to buy a money order?”
Stadin said the postal service has also suggested that more post office transactions can be taken care of online these days, but she pointed out that not all people in rural areas have computers and some areas still do not have access to the Internet.
She said that if the Kerrick Post Office is closed, Askov would then be the nearest post office – a 28-mile round trip for most residents.
A similar meeting was already held in Brookston on Oct. 5. Post Office employee Kim Bailey said about 10 people from the community, as well as a handful from the post office, showed up for the meeting, although the post office currently has 80 post office box holders.
She said the postal service will now have 60 days to consider the fate of the post office, and on Dec. 4 representatives will notify the Brookston Post Office about what the postal service would like to do regarding future mail delivery in that area.
“They’re trying to promote more mail transactions through the carriers,” said Bailey. “If you want to send a package, for instance, you might have to pre-pay online and have it delivered through the carrier to the post office where you want it to go.”
Bailey said Brookston Post Office patrons will have 30 days following the postal service’s decision to appeal its conclusions before the decision becomes final.
A community meeting was also held in Wright on Oct. 12 to discuss the possible closing of the Wright Post Office.
“I was expecting a big crowd and was disappointed when only 17 area residents showed up,” wrote Wright resident Jennie Hanson in her Wright-Cromwell News column. “I don’t know if there just isn’t that much interest, or if folks forgot about it.”
Three officials from the post office were on hand at the Oct. 12 meeting to explain some of the reasons for the possible closing, including the rapidly declining volume of business at the country’s post offices over the past few years. They reported the highest volume of mail handled was in 2006 and from then on it has declined over 20 percent and is expected to decline another 20 percent in the next few years.
“If this office closes, the area rural folks will not see much difference in mail delivery, but the 54 residents who have a post office box in town will need to put up a mailbox and expect their mail to be delivered at a later time in the day,” said Hanson. “The big inconvenience will be the mailing of packages or the pickup of their mail at the post office in the morning. Those will have to be taken care of at Cromwell, Tamarack or with the rural route driver.”
The postal service representatives will now go over the information taken at the meeting and then a decision will be made.
“If the decision is to close our office,” said Hanson, “it will take another three to four months to close it. Let’s all hope for the best, but we may want to prepare for the worst.”
Dean Granholm, vice president for delivery and post office operations for the U.S. Postal Service, has estimated that about 3,000 postmasters, 500 station managers and between 500 and 1,000 postal clerks could lose their jobs as a result of the proposed closures.
He reported that of the nearly 3,700 post offices proposed for closure, some 3,000 of them have annual revenue of less than $27,500, and a workload of less than two hours per day. Compared with the $100,000 or so it takes to run a post office, said Granholm, many of them are not even breaking even.
The proposal to close some post offices follows record-breaking profit losses for the postal service and an $8.5 billion deficit for the 2010 fiscal year.
Post offices in every state except Delaware are up for closure and will be reviewed according to how much money they bring in, how many hours of work are performed there each day and how close they are to other post offices.