By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
Post office box holders in Enders have now been joined by those in Champion in concern over the possible closing of their post office.
Champion Officer in Charge Marjie Buls said she can’t say when exactly she learned of her office’s possible fate, but received more information Saturday.
Forms for written comments are available at the Champion Post Office. The returned, signed comments will be posted in both the Champion and Imperial Post Offices. Those commenting will receive a letter from the Postal Service acknowledging their comments.
The posting period, or the time in which the comment forms will be received, is Oct. 16 to Dec. 17.
Comments already received by the United States Postal Service from Enders customers are on view at both the Enders and Imperial offices. That posting period ends Oct. 27.
The Postal Service is soliciting the comments, both opinions and information favorable or unfavorable regarding the potential effect of the proposed change on postal services and on the communities.
After the 60-day posting period, the feedback information will be reviewed for 10-12 days in Washington, D.C., and the decision will be made to close or keep open the post offices.
That decision will be posted at the post offices. Customers then have 30 days to appeal the final decision to the Postal Regulatory Commission.
Jerry Lines, Imperial Postmaster, said that if the post offices close, “I am guessing rural carriers here will service the town. Both go there every day to deliver to customers.”
He said if the post offices close, their patrons will have the choice of either contracting for rural carrier service with a mail box, or renting a post office box in Imperial.
Brian Sperry of Denver, regional spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said that patrons will be serviced either by rural carriers, which are postal employees, or highway contract route carriers, which are private businesses already being hired by the Postal Service to provide the same services.
The Postal Service has listed advantages and disadvantages to the proposed closings.
Advantages include: rural contract carriers may provide retail services, alleviating the need to go to the post office; customers opting for carrier service will have 24-hour access to their mail; customers opting for carrier service won’t have to pay a post office box fee.
Disadvantages include: loss of a retail outlet and postmaster position in the community; meeting the rural or contract carrier at the mailbox to transact business; a change in mailing address—the community name will continue to be used in the new address. A carrier route address will be assigned.
Leafing through comments already received by the Postal Service concerning Enders, it is apparent that opinions are mixed.
Some Enders boxholders say they use the office monthly for most services and the closing won’t affect them. Others say they use the post office every day to collect or send mail.
The owner of Imperial Auction Market said she uses Enders for large mailings, such as Christmas cards. Julie Rigel said that was because of the quality of service received, and “It’s hard for small business to survive when there’s a larger service up the road providing the same service.”
One customer said he wasn’t sure the rural carrier could handle all of his business. Another said that his office is in Enders, he works for a world-wide organization and the daily postal service is very important.
Another said he rarely uses the post office, while another said, “We would really hate to lose it.”
The Postal Service is searching for ways to cut its enormous debt, which grows yearly. One of those ways is to close smaller post offices and consolidate mail routes, according to Sperry.
“In the past five years our mail volume has declined 25 percent,” due to e-mail and other forms of communication, he said.
Sperry said over the last five years the Postal Service has cut $12 billion from the budget, cut 110,000 jobs and still lost $8.5 billion last year. This year’s loss is estimated at $10 billion.
He said the Enders and Champion Post Offices were chosen, with many others, for possible closing because, “They have the least foot traffic and retail sales and the work load is less than two hours per day.”
A public meeting with a U.S. Postal Service representative in attendance will be held Oct. 26 from 6-8 p.m. at the Champion Community Center. Residents are encouraged to attend to ask questions and voice their opinions.