For Rural Towns, Postal Service Cuts Could Mean A Loss Of Identity | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

For Rural Towns, Postal Service Cuts Could Mean A Loss Of Identity

Play associated audio

In rural Vermont, the U.S. Postal Service decision to discontinue Saturday letter delivery is yet another blow to an institution that's long been a fixture of village life.

Last year, the U.S. Postal Service abandoned plans to close thousands of small post offices, opting instead to cut hours. But there are fears the cuts will continue until the rural post office is no more.

Two highways lead to the village of Brookfield, Vt., but the pavement ends where the village begins.

For years, Brookfield residents have famously resisted any plan to improve the bumpy dirt road that serves as their main drag. But they recognize that the rest of the world is changing.

It's been a long time since cartoonist Ed Koren used the mail for work. There are now faster ways for him to get his drawings from Brookfield to his editors at The New Yorker magazine. But Koren still uses the village's tiny post office for personal correspondence.

Brookfield is one of more than 140 Vermont post offices facing cuts in retail hours. Some will operate as few as two hours daily.

Koren suspects that one day there won't be a local rural post office.

"If they curtail services, fewer people will come. Fewer people will use it and then the justification for getting rid of it altogether," he says.

Even without a post office, rural customers get their mail delivered, and online services make it possible to send packages from home.

But there's no general store in Brookfield, so the post office is part of the village's social life.

At an impromptu gathering there this week the consensus was that losing Saturday letter delivery isn't so bad.

Restaurant owner Lee Duberman says what hurts is the cumulative effect of ongoing reductions in hours and services.

"They've been cutting and cutting and cutting so I assume they're going to continue to cut. And, us, out here, we're feeling more and more cut off, I think," she says.

Like many people, Duberman uses the mail less than in the past. She pays bills and does a lot of her restaurant's business online.

That's not so easy for Vermonters still out of reach of broadband service or those like Bonnie Fallon who is concerned about online privacy.

"I am an old dinosaur and will not pay any bills online. You know, and I'm going to be left behind," she says. "I know that."

The village of Randolph Center is about eight miles from Brookfield. Most weekday mornings customers settle into rocking chairs at the back of Floyd's General Store to drink coffee and solve the world's problems.

The feeling here is that the cuts are necessary even if they lead to closing the post office. That's business, says Perry Armstrong.

"I think that change is here. If they gotta close it, they gotta close it," he says.

Later this month the postal service will reduce retail hours at the Randolph Center post office.

People often drop their packages at the general store for owner Al Floyd to walk over to the post office when it's open. Floyd thinks eventually the postal service will shut it down entirely.

"I think they will but they're going to take the heart right out of the town," he says. "It gives it a name. I mean, we got a ZIP code!"

As Floyd sees it, the presence of a post office is part of what makes a village a village.

Copyright 2013 Vermont Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.vpr.net.

NPR

Christmas Bells Are Ringing, And Cable Holiday Movies Are Unrelenting

Christmas cable movies are a genre unto themselves. We take a look at some of the Hallmark (and other) romances that are surprisingly big business this time of year.
NPR

Coca-Cola Wades Into Milk Business With 'Fairlife'

The milk is now for sale in a limited number of stores — including the Coborn's in Belle Plaine, Minn. Ari Shairo talks with Coborn's dairy manager, Steven Thueringer.
NPR

Judge Rules Fewer Political Groups Can Keep Their Donors Secret

The ruling targets the funders of campaign issue ads that encourage viewers to choose a specific candidate. The FEC now must decide whether it will appeal the ruling or require more disclosure.
NPR

In Darren Wilson's Testimony, Familiar Themes About Black Men

Wilson's descriptions of Michael Brown reminded some people of negative depictions of African-Americans in history. Recent studies suggest these perceptions have deeper psychological roots.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.