Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ahsahka post office considered for closure

Ahsahka Postmistress Anita Brumley stands in front of the facility which may be closed as early as 2012. Brumley has served at this post office since February 2005.

By Alannah Allbrett

The U.S. Postal Service last week released a list of nearly 3,700 post offices nationwide that may be closed or downsized, and the post office in Ahsahka was among them.

Ahsahka’s Postmistress, Anita Brumley, said she first learned of it Tuesday, July 26. When asked if customers are upset at hearing the news, she said they are mostly curious at how it will work, where they will get their mail, and when it will take place.

Ernie Swanson, Corporate Communications Spokesperson for the post office, outlined the process and the likely timeline. He said it is a pretty structured process, and that he doesn’t foresee any closures happening until some time in the 2012 calendar year.

The process will begin by a “Feasibility Study for Discontinuance” in which tracking of mail going through the Ahsahka Post Office will take place. The volume count will then be reviewed, followed by a community meeting.

“In order to gauge customer‘s feelings,” Swanson said, “Questionnaires are being put into each customer’s box and made available also at the post office.” He went on to say, postal management representatives will be available at the meeting to answer questions, address concerns, hear comments, and explain how mail will be handled in the event of the closure.

A decision will be made 30 days after the public meeting. The community will then have 30 days to respond to administrative decisions to close a particular office. Swanson said the recommendation for closure of certain offices happens in the west area office in Denver, CO, and then is sent to Washington, D.C. for final determination.

The number of locations targeted for possible closure account for about 11 percent of the full retail locations in the United States.

Some small towns in Idaho with a post office targeted for possible closure include: Avery, Calder, Chester, Clayton, De Smet, Ellis, Geneva, Hamer, Harvard, Howe, Monteview, Ola, Parker, Pocatello, Swanlake, Tensed, Weston and Yellow Pine. In cities with more than one post office, such as Boise, Moscow, and Pocatello only one branch location has been targeted to close its doors.

Orofino is relatively close (at four+ miles) to serve Ahsahka’s needs. But smaller places like Yellow Pine will feel the effects of closure much more keenly. It takes approximately three hours to drive to the nearest post office from Yellow Pine in the summer, and five to six hours in the winter. It is being suggested that the Village Post Office of old be restored in cases such as these where a hotel owner, grocery store, or other business serves as a replacement for an official postal office.

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