Investigation Stamps Out The Post Office In Lineboro

Sudden Closure Tied To Probe Of Lone Employee At One-room Office

August 18, 1991|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

LINEBORO — In this two-street town just feet from the Pennsylvania border, they've got a general store, an auto repair garage, a volunteer fire company and about 50 homes.

And for about as long as anyone can remember there was a post office, too. That changed about two weeks ago.

The one-room post office -- with 120 postal boxes, stamps and other services -- was closed abruptly by U.S. postal inspectors on Aug. 7, catching many in this rural outpost in northeastern Carroll Countyby surprise.

"If you call walking up on the post office's porch and finding the door locked a surprise," said a Mrs. Warner, whose family runs the R. F. Warner & Sons Feed Co. on Main Street. She declined to give her first name. "I was shocked."

Postal inspectors spokesman Michael Vision declined to reveal the reason for the investigation earlier last week, saying only that an inquiry was continuing.

The community post office -- actually a room attached to sole employee Barbara Hossler's home in the 4200 block of Main St. -- is a branchoffice of the Manchester Post Office.

As a community post office,it is run by a private contractor -- in this case, Hossler.

Hossler has run the Lineboro office for about four years; because of the investigation, her current three-year contract to do so was terminated, said Manchester Postmaster Jack Francis. He did not disclose the amount of money Hossler was being paid, nor did he say how far into thethree-year contract she was on Aug. 7.

Repeated attempts to reachHossler last week were unsuccessful. Published reports say she was unaware of the reason for the inspection.

Vision said his office investigates allegations ranging from simple unsatisfactory job performance to criminal activities, such as mail fraud or misappropriation of Postal Service money.

With access to across-the-street P.O. boxes and stamps gone for at least the next 60 to 90 days, folks here have to trudge the five miles to Manchester to get their mail or send their packages.

"We used to get our mail just after the truck arrived, around 9:00 or 9:30 in the morning," Warner said. "Now, we can't get it before 10:30, and we have to get it while the post office is open. It's an inconvenience."

Francis said that while residents of Lineboro may be inconvenienced, the extra load on Manchester's office -- itself a one-story, small affair just off Westminster Street -- isminimal.

"Lineboro was administered through us, so we already handled their mail here to begin with," Francis said. "I'm sure the biggest impact is on the box holders who now have to drive down here and get their mail."

Lineboro, Francis said, handled about 2,000 pieces of mail a week. Manchester handles about 100,000 pieces of mail.

Lineboro residents are busy making sure their own post office doesn't go the way of most small, independently contracted post offices. They are busy lobbying U.S. Representative Beverly Byron, D-6th, to make sure another contractor is found to fill Hossler's place.

Postalofficials say finding another contractor could take months, but Francis said last week he was confident Lineboro would not lose its post office.

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