Postal Service cancels three small, rural offices

October 02, 1992|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

The Postal Service is stamping out three offices in Carroll County.

Linwood closes today. Middleburg and Detour will cancel their last stamps within three months.

"We should have bought more stamps, guys," said Barbara Kolb to a group of parents waiting for the school bus near Detour Post Office.

But sagging stamp purchases did not cause the closings, said Bob Novak, postal communications specialist for the area.

"These small rural posts were closed for economic reasons; salary for staff, rental, utilities all add up," he said. "In the long run, closing them will help maintain stable postage rates."

The Postal Service could save as much as $100,000 a year with the three closings, he said.

Michelle Jennings, Linwood "post officer," said the three offices are social centers, where residents gather to talk.

John Smith, a Detour resident for 11 years, said he agrees that the post office is not paying for itself. Closing it will be hard on senior citizens, he said.

"The older people don't have mail boxes," said Mr. Smith. "They like to come into town and visit while they pick up their mail."

Detour customers who don't erect mail boxes will have to travel about two miles to Keymar for their mail. Ms. Kolb, whose Middleburg Road home two doors down from the post office faces the sidewalk and has no place for a box.

"I have six kids," she said. "I am not going to pile them into the car every day and drive to Keymar for the mail."

Keymar could become a postal hub. About 51 other customers might follow Ms. Kolb on her runs from Detour. Another 85 could be traveling there from Middleburg, where customers have the same options: a box in Keymar or carrier delivery.

"People tried to fight the closing in Middleburg," said Wanda Valentine, postal clerk. "They had a town meeting to protest. The older people are really upset."

Mr. Novak said postal officials are making every effort to supply customers with adequate alternative services. "We know we play a major role in the community," he said.

Ms. Valentine called the office "the gathering place for the community, where people get news with their mail."

Susan Pickett, who moved to Middleburg four months ago, wondered if she could get the same box number in Keymar.

She may be able to rent P.O. Box 4, and keep Middleburg in her address. Only her zip code will change-- to 21757. Detour residents also will use the Keymar zip. In Linwood, customers will use the code for Union Bridge.

"I have told them they can keep Linwood in their addresses, but most are changing to Union Bridge," said Ms. Jennings, who will oversee Detour's closing also.

Thick piles of official papers, detailing the "final determination" for Middleburg and Detour, hang over the postmaster's windows, but few customers read them.

Mary E. Nicholson said she always brings her mail into Detour.

"I didn't know they were closing," she said. "I have been coming here for 41 years. I wrote two or three letters asking them to stay open."

Many children step off the school bus and into the post office to collect the family mail.

"I am sad they are closing," said Liz Wolfe, 11. "I see some of my favorite people here and the post lady always gave us candy."

Bradley Poston, 7, wonders if he will be able to continue his stamp collecting.

"I like coming over here every day to buy stamps and see the postman," he said. "I got a Dorothy Parker stamp today."

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