To the editor:
On July 26, 2011, the Postal Service released a list of 3,652 post offices being studied for closure. Unfortunately, Camak Post Office is one of the offices targeted for closure. Local citizens are working hard to save their post office and hoping their efforts will make a difference for this community.
As most areas are looking for ways to keep their local businesses, the City of Camak has welcomed two new businesses and hopes to add two more by the end of this year. APAC Midsouth has opened its rock quarry for operations, and the town has also welcomed a convenience store. Land is being cleared for another potential business, and additional inquiries have been made by another interested business owner about bringing their business to town. Our citizens and our businesses need Camak Post Office.
The Postal Service may propose a number of unacceptable options to placate - none of them are acceptable. The Postal Service may propose to replace our post office with a "community postal unit." This type of leased or sub-leased privatized operation tends to hire unqualified workers, who will undermine the sanctity of our mail. Moreover, once these units replace a post office, the statutory protections providing nondiscriminatory mail service are null and void.
Another option the Postal Service may propose is the creation of rural or cluster box service. Clearly, this is not the type of service envisioned when Congress required the Postal Service to provide "a maximum degree of effective and regular mail service to rural areas, communities and small towns." In addition, this type of service is currently not in place.
The USPS would have the associated cost to create rural route service within the city limits of Camak. It would also require us to await the letter carrier at our mail box to receive retail postal services, which could include certified mail, express mail and postal money orders. If mail must be signed for, we would need to travel to the closest "real" post office which was identified by USPS as being Warrenton Post Office. Warrenton Post Office is not handicap accessible, lacks available parking and is too far for many of our older community members that no longer drive.
Finally, the Postal Service may propose to consolidate our post office with another post office. We will lose our community identity, and the consolidation would have a dramatic impact on our community's growing economy.
According to savethepostoffice.com, 82 offices have been removed from the list, and that is what the citizens of Camak are praying for. Last week citizens began circulating a paper petition as well as posting an electronic petition for people to sign at www.ipetitions.com/petition/camakpo/. We're working hard to get as many signatures as possible over the next several weeks since all of this information will go into the proposal that will be submitted by the USPS Review Coordinator Alice Ryal. We need for members of our community to write letters of opposition to all political representatives and to the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission.
In testimony submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission last week, National League of Postmasters' Mark Strong said that the Postal Service's small rural post office closing initiative will harm "the level of services presently provided to small and rural communities, will hurt their economies and social structure, and does not even provide a corresponding benefit to the Postal Service."
"The Postal Service is considering closing thousands of rural post offices throughout the county. If they close all that they are proposing to close, they will save less than three-tenths of one percent of their operating budget. Closing small rural post offices because they lose money is against the law, and the Postal Service is required to provide rural America with the maximum degree of effective and regular Postal Service under the law."
A town hall meeting will be held on Oct. 27, at 6:30 p.m. in the Camak Firehouse Building. The USPS review coordinator will be present to answer questions and gather additional information and feedback that will be included in her final proposal to Washington. All interested persons are strongly encouraged to attend this very important meeting that will give us a chance to tell the review committee how important Camak Post Office is to our community and that we will accept no substitute for our post office.
Jamie C. Sikes,
on behalf of Save The Camak Post Office