Stefanie Cope

Staff Writer

Post offices in small communities throughout the United States may be closing in a matter of months.

Because of budget cuts and a decline in postal services, changes must be made to save money.

The offices in Crestline and West Mineral are two of the proposed closures.

Spokesman for the Kansas City Based Mid-America District of Postal Services Richard Watkins said some communities just are not large enough to support a post office anymore. He also said many of the offices have been part of the postal service for a century or more. Many of the offices were put in place when railroads ran to nearly every town in the United States. He said now that the railroad does not run to all of these areas there is less traffic at the offices. People are buying stamps elsewhere and one-third of the post office revenue comes from other areas.

Watkins said there are three times as many post offices as McDonalds’ in the United States and to many of the offices are not able to cover costs.

He also said the Postmaster General said they wanted a smaller and leaner postal service because when the workload shrinks the services must adapt.

Watkins said the postal service is not going anywhere. People will still receive their mail, they will have to drive a little further to do business in an actual post office.

“We must serve all communities.” Watkins said.

State Representative Doug Gatewood has also heard the talk of shutting down post offices.

Gatewood said post offices are one element of any community that is very important, but in the last 15 years social media has undergone drastic changes and has changed the way people communicate.

He said before social media people would mail letters to each other, but now they can just call a cell phone or leave a Facebook message for someone.

“It will be an inconvenience,” Gatewood said, “People will have to drive to a bigger community to find a post office.” He also said there will still be delivery to homes.

Gatewood said there is a declining population in rural America and the post offices must change to stay up with the budget.

“The post office is not a money maker,” Gatewood said. He said it must change to meed the needs. There is less demand for the post office and now the services must adapt.

Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins has also heard discussions of possible closings.

“The United States Postal Service (USPS) has placed nearly 4,000 post offices under review across the country, 34 of which are in the 2nd district. According to the USPS, these reviews are a part of the ‘Village Post Office’ conversion process in which local Post Offices would be closed and local businesses such as pharmacies, grocery stores and other retailers would offer core postal services,” Jenkins said in an email. “While I am concerned about cost-control and believe this could work in larger metropolitan areas, I have strong reservations about this process and question the workability of it in many of the small towns under discussion in the Second District. For generations, post offices have been main street anchors to our rural communities, and I believe those anchors should largely be preserved. I will continue to monitor the situation and if any Kansans have questions about the status of their local post offices I encourage them to contact my office.”

Cherokee County Commissioner Jack Garner, who’s district includes West Mineral, said this will be just like any other time a small community has lost a public facility, he said the community could dwindle away.

He said the communities just can not bounce back from changes like the loss of a Post Office and it forces smaller communities to try to compete with larger towns.

Garner also said it could cause the smaller areas to be forced to join together to create larger metro areas. He said the populations will more than likely dwindle, but the decision is out of their hands.

“You never gain back what you have lost,” Garner said. He also said Crestline used to be a much larger community with multiple businesses, but when budget cuts started coming through and places had to shut down it caused the area to fade.

“Now it will be like a wide spot in the road,” Garner said.