The mayors of Hastings and Silver City said they were surprised to learn last week the post offices in their respective communities are among the more than 3,700 nationwide being considered for permanent closure by the U.S. Postal Service.
“Actually, we are kind of surprised because in the past, we’ve been told because of the number of rural customers we have, the fact that we have a postmaster and the fact that the school (Nishna Valley) is considered to be in Hastings, we’d be OK,” Hastings Mayor Troy Hatcher said.
Hatcher and Silver City Mayor Rose Schoening believe the citizens in their communities will fight to keep their post offices open. It’s a battle Silver City fought and won in the mid-1990s, when the community still had a bank in town (Mills County State Bank) that was a substantial customer of the post office.
“At this point, I think the community will do whatever it can to fight and keep it (post office) from closing,” Schoening said.
Schoening said she and other elected officials in Silver City have not formally discussed the proposed closure, but she expects the matter to be addressed with input from residents of the city. She said the post office could close as early as December.
“I’ve been told 120 days after official notice is given to the postmaster,” she said. “If it happens, it’s going to be an inconvenience for a lot of people to purchase stamps or ship packages. They’re going to have to go out of the area with the closest post offices being Mineola and Glenwood.”
Should the post office close, Schoening said, residents within the city limits would receive mail delivery to their homes.
“They’d be required to put up their own mailbox,” Schoening said.
Hatcher said the post office is more than a place of business for small communities like Hastings and Silver City.
“In a rural town, the post office is a hub - a place where people go to meet others and to chit-chat,” Hatcher said. “We don’t have a coffee shop or anything like that.”
Hatcher said a community meeting to discuss the postal service proposal is likely. He also voiced skepticism about the postal service’s plan to carefully study the possible closures.
“We all know what kind of list it is, but they call it a study list,” Hatcher said.
On Monday, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad called for a moratorium on post office closures, noting that Iowa and West Virginia would be hit hardest by the postal service’s current plan.
“Our state seems to be particularly hard hit and targeted,” Branstad said at a news conference Monday. “As governor of this state, I believe I have a responsibility and obligation to go to bat for those communities and for maintaining that service. Not to say that some post offices can’t or won’t be closed, but there should be a thoughtful and systematic approach towards this . . . nobody will tell us what the criteria are and the citizens are rightly upset.”
Branstad has personal interest in the post office closings. The governor and his wife own a dozen buildings in Iowa currently being leased by the U.S. Postal Service.
U.S. Rep. Steve King from Iowa’s fifth congressional district has also vowed to assist with the fight, noting that 62 of the possible post office closures are in western Iowa.