Area post offices to learn futureIn the coming months, residents in a dozen nearby rural communities will learn if their post offices will close after a study that started in July ends. On July 26, the U.S. Postal Service announced that 3,600 post offices across the country could be closed to save costs.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
In the coming months, residents in a dozen nearby rural communities will learn if their post offices will close after a study that started in July ends.
On July 26, the U.S. Postal Service announced that 3,600 post offices across the country could be closed to save costs.
Of those 3,600 post offices, 75 are in North Dakota, including 12 in communities surrounding Jamestown.
Here in North Dakota each office facing closure generates less than $27,500 a year in revenue. The closure of all 3,600 branches would result in $200 million a year in savings for USPS, said Pete Nowacki, regional spokesperson for USPS.
Kensal is one community that may lose its post office, Nowacki said.
In Kensal, the USPS’s public notice of proposal expires on Wednesday. Information gathered up to then is sent to USPS headquarters in Washington, D.C., where a final decision will be made on whether to close the branch.
Residents would have 30 days to appeal a decision to close the branch to the Postal Regulatory Commission. The branch could remained closed regardless of the appeal.
The Postal Regulatory Commission has no authority to decide whether a branch remains open or is closed.
All of the 75 branches being studied in North Dakota are either waiting for public input or the final decision.
“In the case of virtually all these offices we’re not going to see them close until early next year sometime,” Nowacki said.
Of the 12 branches being studied in this area Kensal is the biggest city and the smallest is Robinson.
In North Dakota, it’s rural branches that are being studied for closure. For comparison, six branches in Minneapolis are being studied because of close proximity to other branches, Nowacki said.
Many factors are looked at during the decision-making process including postal box rentals, daily visitors and revenue trends.
Each office then has a proposal highlighting any potential reasons for closure.
The proposal includes advantages and disadvantages, the effect on the community, effect on branch employees, economic savings and other factors.
“You’re going to see the amount of savings we could potentially release in each case is going to be different,” Nowacki said.
Each community that loses its branch would have different options for dealing with a closure. Mail would be picked up and dropped off at either a cluster of mailboxes or a mailbox along a carrier’s route.
That decision is up to the community if a closure is announced.
While the move is certain to save USPS some money over a period of time, one local official said it will hurt those small communities in the long run.
“Our post offices allow more transactions of business in rural communities,” said Deb Kantrud, executive director of the South Central Dakota Regional Council. “If you have people traveling greater distances for their mail or the mailing of materials and other things, it also means that more people leave the community for other business as well.”
SCDRC provides planning, assistance, services, information and program administration to local areas of government in a nine-county region here in the areas of community development, economic development and public infrastructure.
Kantrud said closing branches could have multiple effects on rural communities.
Once a person leaves a city it’s hard to bring someone back to the community in a different job, she said.
Also because people are connected to the land in many area rural communities, it could mean they don’t leave and stay in the area unemployed — which lowers the quality of life, she said.
Businesses would be impacted as well if they decide to relocate to a community with no post office.
“That would have a very negative impact of not having access to daily mail or to get your different shipping options,” Kantrud said. “It would have to change how they do business.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org