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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Wilsonville post office closing plan draws opposition

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Retired post master Cathy Schievelbein of Arapahoe, Nebraska, speaks Tuesday night.
(Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazette)
WILSONVILLE, Nebraska -- The U.S. Postal Service sees the closure or consolidation of small, rural post offices as an opportunity to save money. Wilsonville, Nebraska, residents, however, see the possible closing of their post office as a genuine concern, an added expense and a definite inconvenience.

Post offices at Edison, Parks and Enders are also among 26 the USPS is considering closing in Nebraska.

Linda Ollinger, who lives across the street from the Wilsonville post office, said at a gathering of fellow residents Tuesday evening, "This is terrible. Oh, I don't want the post office to close. I don't want to drive 15 miles to go to the post office, especially with the price of gas so high."

If the Wilsonville post office is closed, residents will receive their mail in rural mail boxes in front of their homes or in "cluster" neighborhood boxes. While the rural carrier could sell stamps and accept parcels to mail, the nearest post office will be in Cambridge, 15 miles away.

Linda 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."

A quiet, polite older gentleman said he has concerns about the medicines he receives by mail, medications that must be kept at a consistent temperature. He's worried that he won't be able to meet the mail carrier when he arrives, and the medicine will be in a mail box in the heat and/or cold. "It's worrisome ... it is worrisome," he said.

During a community meeting Tuesday evening, Cathy Schievelbein of Arapahoe, a retired post master, walked Wilsonville residents through some questions she suggested they ask post office representatives when they arrive Thursday evening. Ask about revenues and mail volumes -- what are they and how do they compare to recent years.

Why haven't they hired a post master? Could a post master be transferred to the Wilsonville post office? Are an officer-in-charge or a clerk viable alternatives?

What money savings does the USPS expect by closing or consolidating the Wilsonville post officer?

How will timely, secure service be ensured for elderly citizens who cannot get out of their homes to pick up their mail if a cluster box is installed?

How long will the mail route be for the Wilsonville area if 55-some boxes are added to the existing route that covers rural Wilsonville, Lebanon and parts of Danbury and into Kansas? The existing route is 145 miles.

Will the carrier(s) make it back to Cambridge to post mark the mail in a timely manner?

Will the carrier be expected to do business by the side of the road or street when customers need to purchase stamps or money orders and mail packages that need to be weighed? Will the carrier have time for such services? How will that affect the time frame of the delivery route?

How will the carrier handle mail that must be signed for?

Does the post office realize it may likely lose business to other package delivery services?

The lease on the Wilsonville post office doesn't expire for a year. Will the USPS pay rent for that remainder of the lease even if the post office is closed?

Who makes the ultimate decision to keep open or close the post office? How and when will residents be notified?

Schievelbein said that closing/consolidating small post offices is projected to save .7 of 1 percent of the postal budget. That's not a significant savings, Schievelbein said. "I'd rather see them stop Saturday delivery than close post offices. I'd rather see them sell federally-owned post office buildings and lease them back than close post offices."

Schievelbein said the closing would affect Wilsonville residents who do e-bay business, many of whom chose the postal service over other delivery services because of the delivery confirmation service and free mailing boxes.

Schievelbein strongly encouraged residents not to "roll over a die. You can fight this. Tell them you don't want your post office closed. Tell them you don't want a rural box."

Postal service representatives will be in Wilsonville Thursday, answering questions and accepting comments from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. in the Community Building.

Schievelbein recommends that residents write to their state representatives as soon as possible, explaining the financial impact and inconvenience that would come with the closing of the post office. She also wants to see more residents at the Thursday meeting.

She said, "You can't just give up and die. Use your post office so that they know you need it. Buy stamps. Mail letters and parcels."

"Write to your representatives. Mail the letters. Use the post office -- every stamp helps," Schievelbein said, with a grin. "And mail back the questionnaire from the postal service."

She concluded, "Don't start thinking you have to put up a rural box. You can fight this. Don't go out and buy rural mail boxes, please."

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