8-16-11: Rural Life, Post-Post Office
The United States Postal Service is seriously in the red—a $2.6 billion dollar loss just in this year’s first quarter. In late July, the USPS released a list of about 3,700 post offices it’s considering closing. About half of them are in rural areas.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said, “Our customer’s habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business.”
Some residents of rural Still Pond, Maryland, in Kent County beg to differ. They lost their post office ten months ago, when a fire damaged the historic building that housed it. The USPS decided to keep it closed, although residents are fighting that decision.
Since Still Pond residents already have gotten a taste of what life is like when a small, rural community loses its post office, we thought we’d call one. Sheilah talks to T. Sergeant Pepper, a lawyer who has lived in Still Pond for 35 years.
We reached out to Congressman Andy Harris, the Republican who represents the Eastern Shore, for comment about the Still Pond Post Office. We haven’t heard back yet.
We also reached out to the U.S. Postal Service and received this reply from Freda Sauter in Corporate Communications:
The Postal Service is continuing to realign postal facilities and streamline the number of postal-operated retail locations to meet the changing needs of our customers, and to reduce costs. We have taken unprecedented steps over the past decade to reduce costs in areas within our control, including cost reduction totaling $12 billion in the past four fiscal years. However, the Postal Service is nearing insolvency due to the continued decline of First-Class Mail, the effects of unique legislative mandates and increases in network costs, wages and benefits. Private sector businesses in dire financial straits can file for bankruptcy and use the reorganization process to restructure their organization. This option is not available to the Postal Service; therefore we must continue to realign postal facilities and continue to deliver excellent service to our customers.
Still Pond residents have choices on where to conduct their postal business. Look online at usps.com – the 24-hour Post Office on your computer (buy stamps, change address, hold mail and so much more, mobile devices, smart phones, iPhone mobile apps and Droid applications, retail stores, grocery stores, banks ATMS, pharmacies, warehouse stores and office supply stores, letter carriers to pick up packages at your home or office, we are offering rural delivery and letter carriers can sell stamps to our customers.
Also the Postal Service is offering another retail-replacement option for affected communities – Village Post Office. The Village Post Office would be operated by local businesses – such as pharmacies, grocery stores and other appropriate retailers – and would offer popular postal products and services such as stamps and flat-rate packaging. It could be called “Still Pond Village Post Office”. Residents interested should contact Retail Manager Tammy Kenealy at 410-347-4616.
Residence can not appeal the study but they can appeal the decision to close within 30-days of the posted decision.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.