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Rural America feels the sting of post office closings

As local, state and federal officials fight over deficit spending, it is easy to understand how U. S. Postal Service administrators could get to the point of closing small, mostly rural post offices. Postal officials say that technology hurt the postal service. Sales and mail volume have dropped precipitously during the last decade, even in small post offices.

However, many people in small communities make the case that their post offices are important social and commercial crossroads.

Does our connectedness and sense of community that happens via the Internet make small, rural post offices a thing of the past? What about those who don’t have Internet access? Is it fair to ask these people to pay the price of progress?

Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review via AP

Waverly City Council member, Kim Billington stands in the town's post office, July 11, 2011 in Waverly, Wash. Nearly half of the 100 residents of Waverly turned out Monday night to protest plans to close the post office in the south Spokane County town. Billington says the post office is the only building in town that is staffed every day. Waverly is one of about 2,500 small post offices targeted for closure in a Postal Service budget-cutting plan. Residents will learn the fate of their post office later this year.

The McCook Daily Gazette reported on July 6:
WILSONVILLE, Nebraska -- The U.S. Postal Service sees the closure or consolidation of small, rural post offices as an opportunity to save money. Wilsonville, Neb. residents, however, see the possible closing of their post office as a genuine concern, an added expense and a definite inconvenience.

Linda Ollinger and her husband, Bruce, operate a car dealership and repair business. "We mail out parts and get parts," Linda said. "We use the post office every single day. I don't want to have to drive 15 miles to do our business. Closing it (the Wilsonville post office) will have a significant economic impact on us."

The Presque Isle County Advance reported on July 6:
USPS regional officials conducted a public hearing on June 28 at the Bismark Township Hall. More than 30 people were in attendance to express their concerns about safety, the loss of community identity, convenience, as well as the additional financial hardship added travels would create. Presented to USPS officials were 309 petition signatures in support of the continuance of service in the village.

The Devils Lake Journal reported on May 24:
Violet Smith, who works at the Tokio food pantry, said, “It's gonna be hard on us. A lot of people don't have a vehicle, on nice days we walk up there.”