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June 07, 2011 7:35 am

EDITORIAL: Post office closures pose problems in rural areas

Written by Tessa Schweigert

With no tax support for its operating expenses, the U.S. Postal Service runs like a business. And, like many businesses in recent years, the U.S. Postal Service has struggled to remain solvent. Last year, the struggling organization posted an $8 billion deficit.

Of course, an $8 billion deficit means cutbacks — plain and simple.

Yet, for small communities who end up losing their post offices, those cutbacks will be quite painful.

Nine Wyoming post offices will be studied for possible shutdown, and up to 2,000 across America could shut down this year. Close to home, Byron’s post office is among those at risk for closure.

For a rural community, a post office is more than just a place to get mail.

It’s a community center of sorts, where you talk with friends and neighbors. It’s a local landmark, symbolizing a town’s existence. It connects a rural community to those outside it in tangible ways the Internet can’t — in handwritten notes, needed medications or care packages with home-baked goods.

In Wyoming, where towns often are separated by miles and miles of wide-open spaces, rural post offices play an especially vital role. In Bairoil, part of Sweetwater County, residents would have to drive 45 miles to Rawlins for service if their post office closes, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.

It’s understandable why Byron residents and those in Bairoil, Freedom and other rural Wyoming locations facing a potential closure are fighting to keep their post offices open.

They still have time. A 60-day comment period will allow residents to voice their concerns. Written comments can be sent to USPS Consumer Affairs Manager, Colorado/Wyoming District, 7500 E. 53rd Place, Denver, Colo., 80266-9631.

For a struggling organization grappling with massive deficits, making cuts is necessary.

Yet the Postal Service also must be mindful when deciding which locations to close, taking into account the problems posed to a rural community when its post office closes.

Closures in Wyoming will be difficult — affecting residents, their livelihoods and the communities they live in — but the Postal Service must make cuts in order to survive.

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