County strikes back at Postal Service for Phippsburg office

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There is still one more appeal period for Phippsburg residents to argue against the closure of the unincorporated town’s post office. Phippsburg Post Office customers can send letters to the Postal Regulatory Commission at 901 New York Avenue NW, Suite 200, Washington, D.C., 20268-0001.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners doesn’t plan to allow the U.S. Postal Service to close the Phippsburg Post Office without one last fight.

Since the Postal Service issued a final determination to close the rural post office on Oct. 21, the county commissioners have drafted and sent a letter voicing concerns about both the closure and the process that led to the final decision.

“Unfortunately, based on our observations … we do not believe the USPS really cares what we have to say or even takes our comments seriously,” the commissioners wrote in a letter dated Nov. 1. “It is our opinion that the USPS has already made a broad decision to close small rural post offices and is just going through the required process to create an appearance of accepting and considering community comments.”

The final determination came after a five-month process of review, community input and proposals. The notice of closure stated that highway carrier route cluster box units would replace the current retail and indoor post office box services.

About 144 boxes are in use at the Phippsburg Post Office, which is overseen by postmaster officer-in-charge Mariea “CC” Connor.

During the comment period, customers expressed concern about the town’s senior citizen population and their access to mail as well as year-round inclement weather making it difficult to travel to Oak Creek for postal services and to keep cluster boxes clear of snow.

However, despite requests to be included in the process as the political governing body of the unincorporated town, commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said the Postal Service hasn’t communicated with the county at all. Stahoviak said in an email that she had heard about the potential closure from a constituent.

The commissioners’ letter also cites several inaccuracies in the Postal Service’s closure notice. The Postal Service had listed the inaccurate agency for fire services and failed to identify the Board of Commissioners as the governing body of Phippsburg.

The notice also said that no customers attended a community meeting for feedback held June 15. About 60 people attended that meeting.

The commissioners are also concerned about one major discrepancy in the process: during the June 15 meeting, customers were told their zip code would not change. The final determination of closure indicates that changing the zip code is a possibility.

“The customers of the Phippsburg Post Office and Routt County were not even given the opportunity to comment on this substantial change,” the commissioners wrote in the letter.

Post office customers have until Nov. 21 to submit formal letters of appeal to the Postal Regulatory Commission.

The process includes an initial appeal, followed by a second official form.

The commissioners had county attorney John Merrill review the appeal process, and he determined that it was “very difficult for a layperson to follow,” and that “there seems to be very little ‘law’ to help.”

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

Comments

Scott Ford 2 years, 10 months ago

USPS released its third quarter earnings last month and reports suggested that the service could face $8 billion budget deficit this year. According to the USPS own data more than 3,000 post offices out of a total of 32,000 - earn less than $15,000 annually. An additional 9,000 post offices earn revenue of less than $40,000.

Whether the correct public process was followed or not, the reality is the Phippsburg Post Office falls into either the 3,000 list or the 9,000. More than likely the expenses of the Phippsburg Post Office likely exceed its revenues. Even if every person that receives their mail at this Post Office showed up at the June 15th meeting - it would not change the reality that expenses exceed revenues and some efficiencies can be gained by consolidation.

Perhaps a more successful strategy would be to have the County Commissioners commit to the USPS to make up for any short-fall in revenue the Phippsburg Post Office experiences. This would be more meaningful than a letter that even the Commissioners admit is likely an exercise in futility.

I am not too sure all the citizenry in Routt County would think using tax dollars to retain the Phippsburg Post Office was the best use of limited financial resources - but it is likely a strategy that would be more effective than complaining that the public process was not followed.

The reality is that not everyone gets to keep their post office.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 10 months ago

I find deeply ironical that the County is willing to claim hardship for some residents having to travel 3 miles for postal services when those same residents have to travel 25 miles for county services.

Where is the closet vehicle registration office, clerk and recorder's office, treasurer's office, local sheriff's office, building dept office, human services office and so on?

The alternative not mentioned is that a business can host postal services. Last time I was there, the general store in Hahn's Peak was providing postal services and so there is currently no talk of shutting down that location.

So County could put some money where it's mouth is by providing a county satellite office that also hosts postal services.

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mtroach 2 years, 10 months ago

So yvb's position is not to support of the citizens of phippsburg? Off to a good start earning the trust of voters.

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the_Lizard 2 years, 10 months ago

So, I'm wondering why the cluster boxes couldn't be in Phippsburg or perhaps one of the 2 businesses in town could "host' the postal serivces as Scott W. said. I don't understand why this is so traumatic for the residents of P-burg. We always had to travel several miles over bad roads to get the mail, and survived. You live in a rural area folks, most likely by choice, and in case you were unaware....the Post Office is in debt and can't continue on it's current path. YVB, you should be passing out candy and other goodies to the residents of Routt County, if you were seriously considering running for commisioner. Cuz, we do love politicians that give us stuff, whether it makes economic sense or not...ehhh mtroach?

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kathy foos 2 years, 10 months ago

He cannot be a comish,that is laughable,mean people that are predjudiced cannot serve the public.It would be better to have Sledneck.Oh! Whoah is us.Karen please?

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kathy foos 2 years, 10 months ago

Its a small town,why not join the rest of the modern world and do home delivery there?I know we need to ruff it out here in the sticks,,While you are at it ,you might be able to save a buck by bringing back the party lines we just got rid of twenty years ago.Maybe a return to horse and buggys? I love post net,bring it on!

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sledneck 2 years, 10 months ago

I think it's "woe", Sun.

You'd be better off with YVB, Sun. He talks tough but I can tell that inside he's a teddy bear.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 10 months ago

Cluster boxes is the modern form of delivery. That is how delivery is done in Steamboat and Stagecoach among other places. It is efficient for the post office since one stop serves 20+ mail boxes. It does not affect overall efficiency much to have additional cluster boxes so they look at the layout of streets and traffic flow and work with residents to figure out the best layout of cluster boxes.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 10 months ago

I've been in Routt County for 10 years. The first 4 were in town, in a neighborhood off of Tamarack, and in the County since then. I've never had door-to-door delivery. Cluster boxes in town; and a 12 mile drive to my P.O. box now. When we choose to live where we do, we can expect to sacrifice certain amenities. Pburg will be just fine with cluster boxes. And the USPS will still have an $8 billion hole to climb out of.

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A.J. Steiner 2 years, 10 months ago

Who owns the building? It was a PO / plumbing / hardware store operated by the Icavettos in my days in P-burg. Why not convert the mail room and use the existing boxes. If the PO goes, I want the 248 box I had as a kid!

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spidermite 2 years, 10 months ago

yvb, You've been insulted again. Sun says your predjudiced. Whatever that means. Whoah is she. Now she will need to ruff it.

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greenwash 2 years, 10 months ago

The unfortunate owners of the building is Rob and Anita Hawkins....Nice solar panals though.

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sledneck 2 years, 10 months ago

Read your post to YVB's wall, greenwash. I hope everybody checks it out. Dont know but I think the hate goes both ways, no? The difference, something I've known all along, is that you guys are supposed to be the "tolerance" crowd. What a laugh.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 10 months ago

Hypocrisy, thy name is the caring, compassionate liberal.

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cheesehead 2 years, 10 months ago

The anonymous ego is a strange thing. If I made comments like that I'd back away from my computer for a while.

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