County strikes back at Postal Service for Phippsburg office | SteamboatToday.com

County strikes back at Postal Service for Phippsburg office

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.

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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

Get involved

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.

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