Of the 3,653 being studied by the United States Postal Service for possibel closure, 156 are in Kansas. These are listed below.
Athol , 66932
Bluff City, 67018
Catharine , 67627
Cedar Point, 66843
Argentine, Kansas City, 66106
Long Island, 67647
Lost Springs, 66859
Mapleton , 66754
Munden , 66959
Neosho Falls, 66758
Neosho Rapids, 66864
Pawnee Rock, 67567
Prairie View, 67664
Sun City, 67143
West Mineral, 66782
White Cloud, 66094
Woodston , 67675
PARADISE – Paradise lost?
Perhaps not, but it may become a little harder to find, at least by mail. The United States Post Office in this small northwestern Russell County community made the U.S. Postal Service’s short list for potential closure.
The residents are not happy.
At a meeting called by the USPS Tuesday night in the Paradise Methodist Church, 50 folks vented their frustration with the plan they feel would place a severe hardship on the town. The census lists the population at 49.
“We had a lot of unhappy people there,” said Dan Hoisington, a local insurance agent and meeting attendee. “They were all very concerned.”
In addition, both Kansas Republican Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts had representatives at the gathering.
It was an informational meeting, said Lucy Shearer, Paradise postmistress. The Postal Service is legally obligated to hold such gatherings in each targeted community following a survey mailed to customers.
The manager of post officer operations from Salina lead the meeting since Paradise is one of the 120-some northern Kansas post offices from Hays to Concordia that fall under his jurisdiction. Forty of those are on the list.
“This is really hitting western and central Kansas hard,” Shearer said. She stressed that just because an office is being considered, it is too early to write its obituary.
Should the office close, Paradise residents would have to travel nine miles west to Natoma, a town of 335 in Osborne County, to handle any in-office postal business. And, “Everybody would have to put up mail boxes as if they lived out in the country,” Hoisington said.
“They’re just trying to come up with ways to save funds,” he said. The Postal Service has been hit hard by the rise of e-mails and on-line bill paying, and it is burdened with a burgeoning payout of retirement and health benefits.
However, Hoisington cited information from Moran’s spokesperson. A 2010 annual report to Congress by the Postal Regulatory Commission claimed that for Fiscal Year 2009, only 0.7 percent of the USPS’s total budget was allocated to maintaining rural post offices.
In late July, the USPS released a list of 3,653 post offices across the nation that will be studied for potential closure. Of those, 134 of are in Kansas with most located in rural communities.
Wednesday in Tampa, Fla., Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe addressed the annual gathering of the Postal Customer Council where he outlined the “new reality” facing the service. What he called short-term measures, such as cutting back to five delivery days per week and resolving the benefit issue are not enough.
“Short-term solutions will not help the Postal Service or this industry,” Donahoe said. “We need long-term, comprehensive legislation and our expectation is that Congress will pass comprehensive legislation by the end of this calendar year.”
These long-term measures include the possible closing of the post offices and 252 mail processing centers, increased delivering efficiency and more innovation.
“Our goal is to keep our post office open,” Hoisington said. Now, it is open all morning and most of the afternoon Monday through Friday and mornings on Saturdays for total of 36 hours each week.
But, they suggested it be open only two hours each day, possibly in the morning. “That would satisfy the people of this community,” he said. Besides, he added, the USPS just paid for a five-year lease for the blonde brick building on Paradise’s Main Street.
“I think this is a good idea,” Shearer said. Although it would cut her paycheck by two thirds, she said she could still make a living in Paradise. “I’m not worried about hours.”
With the office remaining open, the large, blue mailbox would remain, allowing patrons to drop off mail all day and still have it go out that day. The box would also allow for daily delivery to Paradise.
Otherwise, customers would have to wait until the next day for the mail to be picked up from their personal mailboxes. In addition, these would have to be installed by the individual at their expense.
“It’s going to make a difference,” Shearer said. The delays could create hardships for businesses and the work involved in putting in a box could be a burden for the many elderly residents.
What’s more, mail from Paradise used to go to Hays for processing and now it goes to Salina, Hoisington said. If someone in Paradise mailed him a birthday card, he said it go to Salina before winding up at his home. “That’s the government’s way.”
It goes beyond the inconvenience, however. “Anything closing in a small town is another nail in the coffin,” he said. “Before long, we’ll just go by the wayside.”
Customers in the communities served offices on the list have 60 days to file comments, Shearer said. After that, all the information gathered at the meetings and the collected comments will go to USPS in Washington, D.C., where a final determination will be made, but there is no set date for this. The countdown started Sept. 12 with the initial announcement by service.
If an office is to be closed, there will be a 30-day window to file a protest, but Shearer said there is little chance a closing will be reversed. Then, within 60 days, the office will close.
Shearer believes that since Paradise residents are putting forth an option, their request to keep the office open may be better received.