DWARF – Perry County residents in two communities attended meetings this past week in hopes of learning more about the potential closure of their post offices.
Only two months ago the United States Postal Service released a list of 3,600 post offices nationwide that are being evaluated for possible closure, eight of which are here in Perry County. Postal officials have been hosting meetings around the state during a 60-day information gathering period to take in public comment about the potential closure.
The county’s second such meeting (the first was held in Ary last month) was held in the Dwarf community, where several residents hoping to save their post office or glean some information as to its status filled the Dwarf Baptist Church on Friday.
No final decision will be made in regard to any post office closure until after the 60-day information period, noted Roland Moore, the postmaster at Dunville, Ky., who led Friday’s meeting.
“It’s my job to listen to you and to hear your concerns, and then I’ll go back and put the report together,” Moore told a group of about 50 people.
The postal service in the past couple of years has announced several cutbacks, and just last week another increase in the price of stamps, citing a drastic decrease in the number of people who send mail by post.
“In 2007 we delivered 220 billion pieces of mail,” Moore noted. “This year we’re going to deliver 170 billion. That’s a pretty big chunk, and all that represents income that the postal service no longer has, because we don’t get tax dollars.”
Moore noted that while many of those post offices on the list of 3,600 are smaller offices, there are stations in larger areas up for closure as well, including one in Louisville where 18,000 notices were sent out to residents.
And for many people who spoke at Friday’s meeting, losing their office would be a detriment to their community and a burden for low income residents who would be forced to drive to another post office for the same services currently being offered next door.
Alice Spurlock was raised in the Dwarf community, and said losing the Dwarf post office would mean that she would be forced to drive to Bulan, which would be the next closest station.
“I’ve stopped a lot of my activities already because I am on a limited income, and my medicine is pretty high,” she said. “Right now I’m choosing between buying my groceries and buying my medicine.”
And losing her post office would increase that burden as it would add cost in driving to her next closest post office, she said.
While some in Dwarf expressed a need to write their elected representatives in Congress in an attempt to save their post office, others like Dennis Miller weren’t so optimistic.
“It’s gone,” Miller said of the post office. “This (meeting) is just something they have to do in order to follow rules and regulations. The post office is gone.”
Miller has lived his entire life in Dwarf, and echoed the sentiment that losing this post office would be a hardship on the local residents, and that its closure would be just another loss to the community that once thrived with general stores and other businesses.
But perhaps more vexing, Miller added, was that no public officials, from the magistrate to the county judge, were in attendance during Friday’s meeting. Moore noted during the meeting that several public officials were invited to attend.
“They were very conspicuous in their absence. That means they don’t care about Dwarf,” Miller said, noting that Dwarf is a part of the first magisterial district, the largest in the county.
A second meeting was held in Perry County on Monday on behalf of residents in the Krypton community where their post office is also on the list of those that could face a shut down.
The meeting at the Krypton fire department brought out 30 members of the community to discuss the fate of their post office and postmaster. Like many small communities, Krypton has lost many of its identifying features – a school and stores, and now the community fears losing their post office.
Bob Turner, postmaster for the Hazard Post Office, officiated over the meeting. Turner gave a brief history of how the post office ended up in this financial situation and how the U.S. Postal Service decided on which post offices to evaluate.
“This originated in Washington, no one in the district offices made selections on these offices,” said Turner.
Linda Napier of Krypton was one of the organizers for the meeting and she started off the discussion by noting the difficulty people who live in more remote areas of the county may have in doing business with a different post office. “I’d rather see them close a post office like Bonnyman that is five miles from Hazard, and keep one open that’s out here.”
Krypton is an isolated community with the closest post office being in Chavies. The small, one-lane road leading to the Krypton post office has been known to freeze over in the winter and make it difficult for residents to get in and out. One of the community’s concerns was that during the winter they may not be able to get to Chavies.
Linda Napier also wondered if small low revenue post offices are the ones being evaluated now, and then the next level could be post offices like Chavies. “We are really so far out here we are about as bad as Buckhorn,” said Napier. “If you say they aren’t closing Chavies, what’s to say in a year or two they won’t close Chavies?”
Turner conceded that there is a possibility of more closings. “You’re right, who’s to say there isn’t going to be some other list that may come down, and we have heard rumors.”
If the Chavies post office were to close in a future bout of cuts, then Krypton residents would have to drive to a post office near Hazard.
“In that case we would be spending $10, 1 hour and 46 miles to and from to get to the Hazard post office,” said Napier.
The post office has offered options for those people who may lose a local post office in being put on a rural rout or having a village post office. Rural carriers offer many of the same services as a post office in that they can take money orders, sell stamps, and send and deliver packages.
However, one of the concerns was having to wait for the carrier. Many of the residents of Krypton pay bills via money order and would have to wait for a carrier or leave money in the mail box, which no one felt was safe.
The village post office is another option. It can be located in an existing business, but in that case of communities like Krypton, they do not have many businesses. Even if a village post office can be located it would not be able to handle money orders.
“We know that in many of the small communities that’s what happens,” said Turner. “The postmaster is doing more than just selling people a stamp.”
Pat Wooton, a field representative for congressman Hal Rogers, sent letters that Rep. Hal Rogers sent to the Postmaster General. Rogers urged the postmaster to consider the special difficulties of the small communities before closing any of the post offices in his district.
Turner said that one of the best things people can do is to call and write Congress about this issue because ultimately they may have a say in the various cuts the post office has to make.