Threats of Closure for Post Offices in Rural Missouri

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FLORENCE - 29 post offices in rural areas of Mid-Missouri are being surveyed by the U.S. Postal Service to see if they should be closed. Members of the Florence community met today at St. John's Church to discuss their concerns about the potential closing of their local post office.

Members expressed concern for elderly people who rely on the post office to receive medication or cannot drive 10 miles to pick up packages. Kristina Payne expressed concerns for the Mennonite community and 75% of the town's population that does not have Internet access. Many were also concerned that the closing of the post office would deter new businesses from coming to the community.

These concerns will be expressed in a study being conducted by the USPS to gather data on all potential post office closures. The USPS will take into account proximity to another post office, real estate value, community input, long-term need and the environmental impact before closing any offices. Cindy Bolles, manager of post office operations, said that not all of the post offices in the study will be closed and that it will take months before any decisions are made. The soonest the closures will begin is January, but it may be sevearl years before offices are closed.

Members of the Florence community discussed alternatives to closing their office including shortened hours, increased postage and 5-day delivery. If the post office was to close, there is an option of creating a village post office. This post office would be run through a local business that would sign a contract with USPS to sell stamps, flat rate boxes and have P.O. boxes.

Payne expressed concerns that the village post office would be an expensive ordeal for a small town and it may not pay off.

If post offices are closed, mail will still be delivered to homes. People also have the option of carrier pick-up where their packages are picked up at their house.

Boles said the USPS is also adjusting their budget in other ways including reduced staff, freezing executive salaries, selling under-used facilities, consolidating offices and adjusting routes.

According to the Postal Regulatory Commission, closing all small and rural post offices would only save 0.7% of the Postal Services' operating budget.