LANDER, Wyo. -- Lloyd Haslam doesn't want to drive 30 miles to purchase a stamp and mail a letter. He wants to walk across the street to the convenience store in Crowheart, where the community post office sits in the corner.

At least for now, that's how Haslam gets his stamps and mails his packages.

The U.S. Postal Service is considering closing 40 rural Wyoming post offices next year. It has already decided to close the post offices at Little America, Frontier and Meridan, said David Rupert of Denver, the postal spokesman for Wyoming.

Decisions on whether offices in Smoot, Freedom, Byron and Cora will close are expected by early February, Rupert said.

Currently, no offices will officially close until May 15, after U.S. Senators requested a delay. According to a media release, Postal Service officials hope the time will be used to create legislation dealing with mail delivery financial concerns.

Meanwhile, Postal Service officials will continue to evaluate post office studies, Rupert said.

Postal Service representatives have already hosted public meetings in each of the Wyoming communities and collected public comment, Rupert said.

"Now it's that massive amount of data to go through," he said.

Residents in Cora have written countless letters to the Postal Service, Wyoming U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and Gov. Matt Mead, said Joanne Ludwig, a Cora resident and the town's former postmaster.

Residents continue to think positively.

"We are convinced they are not going to shut us down," Ludwig said. "We're not going to think any other way."

The decision to close post offices was an economic one, Rupert said. However, some on the proposed chopping block will remain open because it would cost more money to close them.

The Wyoming post offices under study are among more than 3,500 nationwide that could be shuttered. The Postal Service, which isn't tax-funded, has been looking at a variety of ways to save money, from closing offices to moving to five-day delivery.

More than 350 post offices have already been saved because it didn't economically make sense to close them, Rupert said.

Once post offices close, some communities will have an opportunity to open village post offices, where a business takes over the sale of retail items, such as stamps and boxes, Rupert said.

But some communities don't have businesses that could assume such service.

Powder River in Natrona County is situated on a barren stretch of highway and has a population of 44.

Sue Limmer has lived in the Powder River area her entire life.

She's watched other businesses close. Now all that remains is a church, grade school and the post office.

It's not just nostalgia that drives Limmer's hope the post office will remain open.

The Postal Service told Powder River residents if the office closes, it might provide outside lock boxes for people to receive mail, she said. But many of those living in the area are elderly and receive medication prescriptions in the mail that shouldn't freeze, Limmer said.

People in each community have pleaded to keep their post offices, Rupert said.

"Nobody likes to lose their post office," he said.

In most communities where post offices close, rural carriers will still bring the mail, Rupert said.

"Someone just won't be there waiting behind the counter to sell you a book of stamps," he said.

People will be able to order stamps online and send and receive packages with rural carriers in most places, he said.

But Haslam, who served as postmaster of the Crowheart office before he retired 10 years ago, said that isn't enough. The small station serves about 100 families that have received mail there for years, he said.

"The people," he said, "depend on this post office."

 

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