Rural post offices face closure

Argen Duncan

Five rural post offices in Roosevelt County, two in De Baca County and one in Parmer County, Texas, are in danger of being closed.

Due to financial struggles, the U.S. Postal Service has produced a list of about 3,700 post offices it will study for closure nationwide. The post offices in Dora, Causey, Milnesand, Pep and Rogers in Roosevelt County; Taiban and Yeso in De Baca County; and Lazbuddie, Parmer County, are among them.

“It’s a big part of our community to lose,” said Pep resident Betty Williamson.

Williamson understood the financial aspect, that small post offices weren’t profitable, but they are the lifeblood of small towns, she said.

“It’s another nail in the coffin of these small communities,” Williamson said.

Becky Fraze of Dora also said residents would hate to see the post office close because it’s an integral part of the community.

USPS spokesman Peter Hass said the 180-day process of considering closure would start once announcements were sent to customers of each post office. He didn’t know when that would be.

Each post office is to be studied individually, and the process includes a 60-day public comment period. Hass said no post offices would close before December.

The three major criteria USPS considered when choosing which locations to study for closure were the number of retail transactions per day, amount of revenue and proximity of the next-nearest post office, Hass said.

If a post office is closed, he said, the community could get a “village post office.” In that arrangement, the Postal Service would contract with a small business or governmental body to offer its services.

Hass said 35 percent of USPS revenue already comes from services received outside a regular post office — online or in a private store, for example.

The postal service has received no tax money since 1982, operating on income from customers, he said.

“Over the past four years, we’ve seen a 20 percent decline in mail volume,” Hass continued.

The economic downturn has led to less advertising mail, and people have been communicating, paying bills and so forth electronically instead of sending first-class mail, he said. Hass said this situation means USPS has to be more efficient.