Don't go quietly

Monday, October 24, 2011

We have known for years that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been experiencing financial problems.

The news coverage has been about the mounting losses the service has faced year after year, trying to keep up with rising expenses and a mandated pre-funding of health care benefits for future retirees. No other agency has this mandate. The USPS is also battling competition from FedEx, UPS and a shift to the Internet for personal communication and finances.

There's little doubt that the reliable postman and his six-day deliveries are under siege.

The postmaster general has decided that after years of discussion about consolidation, it is time for action. Last month, the Area Mail Processing Center in Sioux City was closed and its responsibilities shifted to Sioux Falls, S.D.

The possible closure of 178 post offices in Iowa has been been announced as well. Three of the offices are in Plymouth County: Brunsville, Oyens and Westfield. As required by law, the postal service is currently conducting a study as part of the possible closure process.

As we learned with the closure of the mail processing center in Sioux City, the odds of avoiding the inevitable are slim. The rural routes for Westfield and Akron are currently being handled out of the Hawarden post office, effectively already making the change for rural deliveries.

Westfield residents are planning a town meeting Nov.1 to discuss strategy and prepare for the meeting with postal officials on Nov. 7, a meeting required by law to be held for public comment before a decision is made.

Our postal service is a national treasure, the great equalizer. Every address in our nation is entitled to service, no matter where it may be located.

This is an inconvenient truth in these days of cost cutting, but it is the truth.

It should concern residents of every community in the state that any office is being considered for closure. Once a precedent is set, who knows where it will end?

This issue is about more than the delivery of mail. It is about our way of life.

We urge people to get engaged, get informed and get involved. Attend the pre-meeting and be prepared for the real one.

Now is not the time to go quietly.