LINEBORO — The U.S. Postal Service is looking for any would-be postmasters among the nearly 200 people in this northeastern Carroll community.
With the closing of its one-room community post office in the wake of acriminal investigation, this three-street rural outpost along the Pennsylvania border has been without its sole source of post office boxes, postage stamps and other mail services since Aug. 7.
But postal officials are determined to find someone to replace the 31-year-old woman who on Aug. 19 was charged with stealing more than $615 in postal receipts.
Barbara J. Hossler ran the one-room facility attached to her house in the 4200 block of Main Street since September 1987, providing box rentals for 120 customers here, as well as selling stamps and other postal items.
Court records say she wascharged with using money from the sale of stamps and money orders for a $358 payment on her husband's pickup plus other unspecified household expenses.
Hossler and her husband, Russell W. Hossler, boughtthe home for $85,000 in August 1987 from Charlotte Anne Shock. Shockhad run the post office from the home for at least four years beforeselling the house.
Since the office was closed after a U.S. postal inspectors' audit, box renters -- as well as anyone wanting ExpressMail, a roll of stamps or postal money orders -- have had to travel five miles to the Manchester Post Office, which oversaw Hossler's operations.
Manchester Postmaster Jack D. Francis put up fliers around town last week seeking anyone interested in running a post office out of their home or business. While no one has come forward, Francis said he expects eventually to be able to reopen here.
"Anyone living in Lineboro who expresses interest and gives us the low bid and who is qualified can do it," he said yesterday from Manchester. "The post office was not closed because Lineboro doesn't need one. So, it's a matter of finding someone."
To be qualified, Francis said, a person has to show that he or she can provide the service in a reasonably sized space for the right price. The applicant also has to go through extensive background checks, he said.
Hossler had been paid $9,057 a year to run the office, postal officials said.
Last month's closing of the post office here was believed to be the first in the county caused by a theft charge, postal inspectors' spokesmen said.
Francis said that a new post office could open as soon as the beginning of next year.
"The process usually takes a couple of months tocomplete," he said.
Court records show that Francis and other postal authorities did not detect any shortfall in monthly receipts until about July 15. Postal auditors came to the post office here and performed an unannounced audit, court records show.
The U.S. Postal Service "totally entrusted to her a consignment of Postal Service-owned stamps and stamped products," court records say. Hossler "was neverauthorized to retain any of such derived expenses for salary or compensation," the records say.
Hossler could not be reached for comment. She is scheduled to appear in Carroll County District Court on Nov. 12 for a preliminary inquiry.
She is scheduled to face trial Dec. 17. If convicted, she could receive up to 15 years in jail and a $1,000 fine.