Area rural post offices on chopping block?

Sonny Long

July 26, 2011 at 2:26 a.m.

Dellie Ray Laake didn't mince any words when told the U.S. Postal Service was considering closing the Thomaston Post Office.

"I wouldn't like it one damn bit," said Laake, who lives on nearby Rainbow Road in rural DeWitt County.

"All the residents out here have boxes there. Unless they go to all rural carriers, we'll have to go to Nursery, Cuero or Victoria," Laake said. "We want to keep it as long as we can."

The Thomaston post office is one of about two dozen in the Victoria area, and 3,700 nationwide, that are being studied by the U.S. Post Office as it continues to "right size" its retail network, according to a news release from the Postal Service.

"This isn't a confirmation of any closures," said Sam Bolen, public information officer for the Postal Service's Rio Grande District.

Bolen said the study will include the gathering of data and an opportunity for public comment.

"Because of the built-in timelines in the process if any action is taken, it would not likely be until next year. Six months minimum," he said.

As more customers choose to conduct their postal business online, on their smart phones and at their favorite shopping destinations, the need for the U.S. Postal Service to maintain its nearly 32,000 retail offices - the largest retail network in the country - diminishes, according to the news release.

The Postal Service is also proposing a retail-replacement option for affected communities - the Village Post Office.

Village Post Offices 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.

"Today, more than 35 percent of the Postal Service's retail revenue comes from expanded access locations such as grocery stores, drug stores, office supply stores, retail chains, self-service kiosks, ATMs and, open 24/7," said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. "Our customer's habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business."

Bolen pointed out that the sale of postage is the main source of income for the Postal Service and that it receives no federal tax dollars.



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