The Phippsburg post office is a fixture on Main Street. The post office is being considered for discontinuance. A United States Postal Service review coordinator met with Phippsburg residents and representatives of Routt County on Wednesday.

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The Phippsburg post office is a fixture on Main Street. The post office is being considered for discontinuance. A United States Postal Service review coordinator met with Phippsburg residents and representatives of Routt County on Wednesday.

Phippsburg citizens express support for post office

In face of possible closure, people tell of its value

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Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Louise Iacovetto has lived in Phippsburg for 86 years.

Discontinuance process

The United States Postal Service will take into account public comments and cost analysis and issue a proposal on whether to close the post office within about three weeks.

The proposal will be posted for 60 days, after which USPS headquarters in Washington will make the final decision.

Residents can appeal the decision, and USPS will review any appeals for up to 120 days.

About 60 Phippsburg residents and representatives from Routt County filled the pews of the South Routt Bible Church on Wednesday in support of the Phippsburg post office.

Marcela Rivera, review coordinator at the United States Postal Service, led the meeting that opened up the floor for questions and comments regarding the possible closure or consolidation of the post office.

The process began last month when a letter was sent to box holders stating that their post office was one of several being studied for possible discontinuance because of declining workload and the proximity to another post office in Oak Creek.

Rivera stated at the beginning of the meeting that every community seems to rally around its post office.

“I understand this is very personal for you,” she said. “I’ve been to many communities that are very passionate about the post office as the center of their community.”

Still, with the post office facing an $8 billion deficit, discontinuance studies such as the one surrounding the Phippsburg post office are happening at an accelerated rate.

Wednesday’s audience shared varying concerns on the discontinuance of the post office, most of which related to the town’s senior population and its needs.

Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputy Clark Kreger said the main concern for law enforcement was the safety of residents driving in difficult conditions if they were required to travel the 3.6 miles down Colorado Highway 131 to the Oak Creek post office to receive or send mail.

“We respond to calls about run-offs, vehicle crashes on a daily basis in the winter,” he said. “In South Routt, if not a daily occurrence, it would be multiple times a week. One-fifth of the people who use the post office here are 70 years old and above. Four miles may not seem like a lot to us, but it is to them. To have maybe one incident caused by this would take a deputy away from something else.”

Rivera said the Postal Service would explore several options in the discontinuance study.

One possibility is to look at the cost savings of providing home delivery on existing rural mail routes where possible. Another possibility is cluster boxes and parcel lockers stationed around the area. She also mentioned that several retail services are offered online.

But the audience was concerned with some of those options, and many members cited the excessive snow and harsh weather that blankets South Routt in winter.

Ralph Bracegirdle of the Yampa Fire Protection District said even with cluster boxes, the fire department would be concerned with the safety of the residents — especially seniors — walking to get their mail without a place to warm up.

County Manager Tom Sullivan represented the Routt County Board of Commissioners at the meeting, and he brought with him a letter from commissioners opposing the closure for reasons involving both safety and the community identity of the rural area.

“Without its post office, Phippsburg would lose some of its own identity, opportunity to promote economic development and quality of life for its residents,” the letter stated.

Several business owners in South Routt also attended the meeting to reiterate the importance of convenient access to a post office for economic development.

The seniors in the crowd explained that they receive medication in the mail and don’t want their access to mail services to change. They also talked about the lack of Internet options and the fact that many seniors don’t use computers.

Rivera said the comments would be reviewed along with a cost savings analysis, and a proposal on the outcome will be sent out within about three weeks.

The proposal will be posted at the Phippsburg and Oak Creek post offices for 60 days, after which Postal Service headquarters in Washington will render a final decision. After that, residents can appeal the decision, a process that can take up to four months.

Louise Iacovetto, an 86-year Phippsburg resident and former postmaster, helped rally the local residents and county entities to preserve what many see as the center of the small, unincorporated town.

Iacovetto said after the meeting that she was satisfied with the turnout on Wednesday and is glad to have the support of the County Commission in fighting the possible closure.

“I’m thinking positively,” she said.

— To reach Nicole Inglis call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Rob Douglas 3 years, 3 months ago

The attitudes expressed in the above article from citizens and local government alike demonstrate why this nation is going down the toilet financially. Unfortunately, it also illustrates how we as a nation are unwilling to make even the slightest sacrifice to save the financial future of this country.

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cmc13 3 years, 3 months ago

I totally agree, next we'll have residents wanting one in Stagecoach. Post Office should privatized sold off as they can't seem to get a handle on anything except our money.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 3 months ago

Well, it is also a demonstration of how messed up the Post Office is. Any normal service business would say they are not going to spend money on a local office for so few customers, but let it stay open if the community can cover the costs.

In many situations, a local store would want the customer foot traffic and be willing to give floor space for the mailboxes. .

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scott selby 3 years, 3 months ago

@ Scott "Well, it is also a demonstration of how messed up the Post Office is." I am unclear on your statement. The post office is wanting to close the location in order to cut expenses. It is the local residents who oppose the closure. In this situation who is "messed up"? Also, if individuals are truly concerned about seniors and others getting their mail in hazardous conditions, perhaps they could pick it up and deliver it to them. Closing postal branches is almost as taboo as school consolidation. Both are typically hubs for small towns, however, residents must be willing to pay the expense for both. Perhaps the question should have been asked "How much more are you as individual citizens willing to pay for the convenience of having a post office?" I wonder what the answer would have been. It is easy to take shots at governmental services when they are asked to provide a service in a manner that no private corporation would. Your idea about local stores wanting the foot traffic does seem to play out well at the Clark Store.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 3 months ago

Scott Selby, What is wrong is that closing a Post Office is a process. Any private service business would simply say unless someone wants to host our service then we are closing. The Post Office is supposed to a quasi private business

It is very easy for locals to complain about this is that business closing. Some people were sad to see Village Inn restaurant close. Thus, I see no reason to blame locals for wanting the local Post Office to stay open. I blame Post Office management for having a complicated process for closing an office.

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scott selby 3 years, 3 months ago

@ Scott....The post office has a complictaed process for closing because of issues just like this. While elected officials, such as the sherfiff and county commissioners have no financial stake in whether or not the post office stays open, they were quick to have representatives at the meeting. How many phone calls to other elected representatives do you think were also made? We get the type of government that we demand. I do not recall the sheriff's office or commissioners having an opinion on whether or not Village Inn should close. So, while it is true that in may aspects the post office is suppose to operate as a quasi private business, it is clear that because it is a service that individuals depend on, it is not exactly the same. So, I guess it does come back to "How much more are individuals willing to pay for this service?" If the answer is the same as how many people were willing to eat at Village Inn, then the answer is obvious. It is nonsensical to complain about a governmental process that has been put in place in response to the wishes of citizens.

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Jeff_Kibler 3 years, 3 months ago

Here's an extreme comparison: It costs the same for a first class letter, whether mailed from Key West to Nome, or down the street to YVEA.

SW, that ain't just a "quasi private business," it's pretty much a "quasi business."

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 3 months ago

It makes a whole lot of sense to complain about the process for shutting a post office when the post office is projecting an $8 billion deficit.

And we will end up like Greece if our elected officials refuse to stand up for what is financially sustainable.

It'd make more sense to be talking about installing cluster boxes and such.

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scott selby 3 years, 3 months ago

@Scott The post office is a government subsidized service. It is not a private business. I know it is suppose to function as a quai-private business, but as Mr. Kibler pointed out, it does not. It does not because, citizens want the service. The question comes down to are they willing to pay for it? If not, if it were a private business, it should be closed. It is easy and fairly disingenuous to blame the government for performing in a manner demanded by citizens. The lengthy study process is a bi-product of meetings, such as the one covered in the article. So, while you personally may be in favor of closing the branch for financial reasons, your opinion sounds like it is outnumbered by the residents of Phippsburgh, the sheriff and county commissioners. The question still remains as to if the citizens, sheriff's office or county commisioners would be willing to back up their opinion with financial support to keep the branch open.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 3 months ago

Scott Selby, Yeah, but the Post Office needs a simple formula of saying their budget for a service area of that size is X and thus there needs to be an arrangement with the community on now to make up the difference.

It should be a no brainer that the Post Office cannot keep losing money operating the Pburg post office. That there are meetings and a 4 month review process is part of the reason why the Post Office is losing $8 billion a year.

Thus, the question should be how to come to an acceptable arrangement. If the issue is seniors getting their medicines delivered by mail then cluster boxes might be the solution. If the issue is community gathering place then presumably it needs to be combined with some other local business that would like the added foot traffic.

Or it might be worth to invest in better internet service so there is less of a dependence upon the post office.

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Brian Kotowski 3 years, 3 months ago

It's baffling to me that this merits any discussion at all. As others have mentioned, there are enumerable and more economical options to consider. The entitlement agenda of too many of our fellow citizens - on the backs & wallets of anyone but themselves - is just stunning. Rob Douglas' first comment to this piece is spot on.

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KORI DAHLIN 3 years, 3 months ago

Go Pony Express.....or did you forget they always stopped when they had a letter to deliver. Oh yes we all forgot how to write with pen and paper! The community of Phippsburg maybe small but when it comes to it....our elders still know how to write!

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 3 months ago

I just got a call from someone whom was told stuff I never said regarding this topic on this blog.

So anyway, there is no dispute that Pburg residents should get mail service. Stagecoach has cluster boxes and that would presumably be the worst case for Pburg.

The issue is that the Post Office which is losing $8 billion a year needs to cut expenses such as rent and so on for a local post office that serves relatively few people. And maybe like Clark which Post Office services are hosted by their general store then maybe Flat Tops supply could be asked/persuaded to provide post office services.

But what is wrong to me is that a quasi private business simply cannot step forward and say what is their budget for Pburg and allow locals to reach a mutually acceptable solution instead has this long drawn out process to decide what would be obvious for any private business.

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