Town Hall Meeting

We attended a town hall meeting with a representative from the US Postal Service….

Burkett’s Post Office is on the governmental chopping block.  It was not a pleasant meeting nor a pretty one…we’re pretty possessive of our local PO and postal employees, and we’re pretty spoiled to having our mail securely delivered to a building 4 houses down.  It’s great to be able to buy stamps, mail packages, pick up packages and visit with neighbors we otherwise wouldn’t see.  That’s the heartbeat of Burkett…and the PO is fixing to pull the plug.

According to the postal dude,  our mail could be delivered to cluster boxes on the street and we’d keep our address and the zip code.  BUT…for those who have mail order Rx and medical supplies, would you want those sitting in a locked box on a corner?  And if someone vandalized the cluster boxes, they would pull the boxes and we’d have to drive to Coleman for our mail.  That’s 36 miles round trip for us and more for a lot of other folks.  Another option would be to totally pull the mail from here and have boxes in Coleman. NOT.  And then,  we could have an option of putting a box across the street and having regular “curb” delivery.  We’d still have to go elsewhere for items that wouldn’t fit in the box (holidays are coming…orders = packages, gifts, large envelopes).  That’s not a viable option.  And in bad weather…what about the vehicles that slide off the slick roads and cream the mailbox? 

According to the postal dude, our mail service is FREE.  Wonder what part of  the $56.00 box rental fee he thinks is free?  Even if we have the cluster boxes, we’d have to pay the $56.00 because we’re rural…my housing tenants in Coleman have cluster boxes and they don’t pay a fee…their service IS free.  Last time I looked, it cost an arm and a leg to mail packages through the PO….or to mail a letter, postcard, envelope.  NOT FREE. 

He was telling us about how the PO service got into trouble – and why they’re broke.  They used to be funded by our tax dollars…then they privatized and no longer receive funding from Congress.  Supposedly they were over extended had to “borrow” from Congress,but they’ve reached the maximum to be loaned.  Now they can’t pay the employee benefits, salaries, retirements, so they’re having to re-organize.  That translates into cutting POs and ditching employees.  They’re already cut the postal workers retirement and benefits.  They’re looking at cutting 200+ distribution plants (to include Abilene, Ft. Worth and possibly Dallas) and over 3700 POs.  

What does that mean besides losing our PO?  It means Priority Mail could take up to 4 days rather than 2 and regular letter mail could take 5-7 days rather than 3 – 4.  Who knows what it would take for packages!

Yep, the internet and electronic age have cut postal business, but people will always need to physically ship packages…He kept harping on the convenience of buying stamps online or paying postage for home package pickup.  What he didn’t realize is that not everyone has a computer and can afford internet (this is a very poor area), not everyone has credit cards to use online.  We have no cell phone service and our computer is through the telephone line of a very unstable little telephone co-op with antiquated equipment. 

Can you tell that I’m not a happy camper tonight?  There were 42 PO boxes represented there tonight and no smiling faces as he was talking.   One of the questions posed was “what can we do to keep our PO?”  His answer, “I can’t tell you that.”  He was certainly less than helpful.    He did say that within 5-7 years, the PO wouldn’t function anything like we know it now.

Sorry for the rant, but I’m really upset with his information…or lack of!  This isn’t the type of change that I like.

Susan ~ Patchkat