Congressman wants fair warning of closure of historic Richmond CA post office

SteveBlog

Richmond Standard: An announcement by the U.S. Post Office earlier this year that it intends to close the 1025 Nevin Ave. branch and sell the property has prompted action by Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11).

DeSaulnier is demanding that the U.S. Postal Service provide at least 10 days advance notice to Congressional offices if and when it decides to close, sell, move or reduce operations at any branch.

The congressman introduced the advanced-notice measure in the bipartisan Postal Service Reform Act (H.R. 756). The measure is expected to be voted on in the House of Representatives in the near future and was unanimously adopted by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

DeSaulnier has expressed an intention to fight to keep the 1025 Nevin Ave. branch open. He said with advance warning of a branch’s closure or sale, the public has a chance to share thoughts and concerns. He wasn’t happy that he learned about the impending closure the same way the public did: Via a paper notice posted at the branch on Jan. 25.  Read more.

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Community upset over Whitehaven post office closing in Memphis, TN

SteveBlog

WMC Action News: Some people in the Whitehaven community in Memphis, Tenn. [a predominantly African-American community], are boiling mad about plans to close a longtime neighborhood post office.

Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen and some Memphis City Council Members are calling for the Postal Service to reconsider plans to relocate the Louis Carruthers Post Office from Whitehaven to Hacks Cross Road.

Spencer Green said he has used this post office frequently for years–sometimes several times during the week.

“The next one that I know of is kind of down Winchester, so that’s a little ways away so this way is real convenient,” Green said.

Now the U.S. Postal Service wants to relocate the Louis Carruthers Post Office that’s in Whitehaven right by Memphis International Airport.

“That’s crazy…that’s crazy,” Green said.  Read more.

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Fire Destroys Winthrop ME Post Office and Its Contents

SteveBlog

Maine NewsOfficials say a fire swept through the post office in downtown Winthrop, destroying both the building and the pieces of mail that were inside.

Crews say the blaze began around 9 a.m. Tuesday. A clerk saw a ceiling tile fall and smoke began spreading through building.

Everyone safely evacuated, but fire officials say flames consumed the building within minutes.

Town Fire Chief Dan Brooks says faulty heating equipment in the ceiling may have started the fire. The cause remains under investigation.

The U.S. Postal Service says there is no timetable for resuming operations.

Source: Read more.

(Photo credits: Fire at Winthrop PO; Winthrop PO)

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Fort Pierce FL finds buyer for historic Orange Avenue post office

SteveBlog

TC Palm: After two years and five offers, city officials finally sold the historic post office building at the northwest corner of Orange Avenue and Fifth Street in Fort Pierce, .

The City Commission on Tuesday accepted the $139,000 offer from Fort Pierce residents Stanley and Jean Synkoski for the half-acre lot at 500 Orange Ave. that the couple plans to turn into a food, beverage and retail center featuring local goods.

“We want to capture the essence and the energy of the downtown Fort Pierce Farmer’s Market, but put it in a building seven days a weeks,” Stanley Synkoski said Friday.

Construction could start this summer, said Stanley Synkoski, who has 40 years in the hospitality industry and is a partner in a group that operates food, beverage and specialty retail products n airports.

The retail center would sell beach apparel, jewelry, arts and crafts from local artists, handmade candles, home décor and stationary, according to city records…

The 82-year-old, two-story building with the entrance facing Orange Avenue has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2002 for its architectural significance….

The city purchased the property for $100,000 from the U.S. Postal Service in 2002.  Read more.

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Closing Laurie, MO Post Office Is ‘Unjust And Unfair,’ Alderman Says, As City Officials Contact Lawmakers

SteveBlog

LakeExpo.com: City officials are trying to bring back a post office to Laurie, Missouri, but a local postmaster says it might be a lost cause.

The United States Postal Service closed the Laurie Contract Postal Unit on Tuesday, Jan. 31, and all post office box mail for the city was moved to the Gravois Mills post office, eight miles away.

“The impact is unjust and unfair,” Alderman Jeff Chorpening said, in the Tuesday, Feb. 14 board meeting. The city has sent letters to state and federal representatives and senators asking for assistance in reopening the unit. As of the Tuesday meeting, they had not heard anything back from elected officials….

Laurie has had a contract postal unit (CPU) since 1961. 

A CPU is a supplier-leased site operated by the supplier, under contract with the USPS. Bryant’s Osage Outdoors had hosted the postal unit for five years, but elected not to renew their contract in 2017, due to being unable to renegotiate a raise in the percentage they were paid to operate the unit….

According to Gravois Mills Postmaster Pam Payne, nothing can be done. “A moratorium was placed on CPU’s in July 2016,” Payne said. “It was accepted by Congress and we are a federal entity. This means no ‘new’ contracts can be approved.”  Read more.

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Help Save the Lihue Post Office

SteveBlog

Historic Hawaii FoundationThe post office in Lihue, Hawaii, is on the Hawai‘i State Register and the National Register of Historic Places.  The Postal Service is now planning to “relocate” the post office and sell the building.

This is the first stand-alone post office on Kaua‘i built in 1939.  The original proposed design, a Depression-era mission-style fortress, was met by a storm of protest by Kaua‘i citizens led by postal engineer Floyd Williams, who successfully championed a redesign. The revised design was the architecturally popular Spanish mission revival style prevalent in the 1930s. The post office is one of 3 Mediterranean-style buildings in the town core constructed during that decade.

It took 10 years from the time territorial senator Charles Rice introduced a resolution to the U.S. Congress to provide funds for a new post office until Līhu‘e Post Office’s dedication in 1939.  According to members of the business and local community it is an integral part of life in Līhu‘e and complements efforts to enhance and grow a walkable downtown area.

Closure of Līhu‘e Post Office was announced via a Public Notice posted on January 23 in the lobby of the building located at 4441 Rice Street.  The notice solicited public comments on a proposal to end postal operations at that facility. A follow-up message later clarified that the proposal being considered is to consolidate USPS retail operations currently located at 4441 Rice Street with our USPS Carrier Annex facility at 3230 Kapule Highway.

A “Save Our Post Office” effort has begun.  Read more.

Update: There’s more on the Lihue post office relocation here.

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Carper requests GSA review of Old Post Office lease

SteveBlog

Dover Post: U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Ranking Member Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, and Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Ranking Member Tom Carper, D-Delaware, sent a letter to General Services Administration Inspector General Carol Ochoa requesting a review of GSA’s management of the lease with the Trump Old Post Office to develop and manage the Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C.

“Since President Trump took the oath of office, the Trump Old Post Office, LLC appears to be in breach of the plain language of the lease agreement,” the letter read, in part.

“Despite the warning signs from members of Congress and ethics watchdogs, GSA chose not to take any action to address or enforce this provision of the lease or the other steps to mitigate the difficulties the lease creates for GSA and other government officials who oversee management of the agreement. Your office is in a unique position to review GSA’s management of the lease of the Old Post Office Building and identify any potential missteps.”

The senators reminded Ochoa that the GSA IG office has previously led reviews of matters of significance, including audits of the Public Buildings Service’s lease administration practices.  Read more.

(Photo: Trump Hotel)

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‘We are upset’: Strongstown PA post office closes abruptly

SteveBlog

tribdem.com: An emergency decision to close the Strongstown PA post office has residents in the small Indiana County community fuming.

“We just all feel that nobody even asked for suggestions,” Strongstown resident and business owner Cathy Homer said. “We have people who were willing to step in and run the post office for a while.”

Homer said the office closed Monday after longtime Postmistress Helga Krall fell ill over the weekend.

Strongstown customers with post offices boxes are now being handled by the Belsano post office, about three miles to the east on Route 422, Postal Service spokesman Terrence Kelley said.

“Strongstown is a Contract Postal Unit,” Kelley said in an email.  “The owner is unable to fulfill the contract to provide the service. The contract has been given an emergency termination.”

“On Monday morning, there was a sign that said ‘post office permanently closed,’ ” Homer said.

“They took out our mailboxes and took the outside postal box. There is nowhere in town where you can mail a letter or buy stamps.” Read more.

(Photo: Strongstown post office, by K Kindahl, Post Mark Collectors Club collection.) (Also on Google Street Views.)

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Postal Service announces plan to sell historic Richmond CA post office

SteveBlog

East Bay Times: The United States Postal Service announced Wednesday that it plans to close Richmond’s downtown post office, a historic building considered a landmark for the city, dealing a blow to efforts to attract more investment to the area.

The art deco-era building at 1025 Nevin Ave. was built in 1938 as part of the New Deal program launched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. It once was a hub for the city and featured colorful murals, including one recently rediscoverd after it was missing for more than 40 years.

The closure comes as the U.S. Postal Service tries to address its financial struggles by trying to sell assets and trim costs. A major part of the post office’s financial problems stems from a congressional mandate that requires the agency to prefund its pension plans, a unique requirement not asked of any other governmental agency. Already, dozens of historic post offices around the country have been put on the market, including ones in Berkeley and Napa.

Once the sale is finalized, the retail operation of the downtown Richmond post office will be moved to an existing postal facility about a mile way where letter carriers are already based, according to Augustine Ruiz, a spokesman for the United States Postal Service.

“The Nevin Avenue location is too big and is a building that no longer serves our purposes,” Ruiz said.

. . . Wednesday’s announcement was roundly criticized by city officials and other advocates of downtown who have sought to attract new housing and businesses to the area. The post office serves employees of nearby Kaiser hospital, a Social Security Administration building, several county office buildings, many small businesses, along with residents of numerous apartments and housing developments in the area.

The post office “is a landmark and central to the historic fabric of the downtown district,” said Amanda Elliott, executive director of the Main Street Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing downtown Richmond. “Richmond is woefully underserved in many aspects and closing the main post office in the city will add to this unfortunate trend.”  Read more in the East Bay Times.

Last year Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA-11], introduced legislation in the House (H.R.606) to designate the facility as the “Harold D. McCraw, Sr., Post Office Building” in honor of  a former Richmond Postmaster and community leader.

According to the Living New Deal website, the Richmond post office once housed a mural entitled “Richmond Industrial City,” by Victor Arnautoff, who did the “City Life” mural in Coit Tower and was a potégé of Diego Rivera.  The mural was commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Section of Fine Arts and installed in April 1940.  In 1976 the mural was removed during a renovation of the lobby, and then, instead of being sent off for restoration, it wound up in the basement of the post office where it was nearly ruined by a water leak.  After decades in storage, the mural is currently being restored.

(Photo credits: Richmond CA post office entrance, by Karina Ioffee; exterior, by J Gallagher, Dec. 2007, in the Post Mark Collectors Club collection; Arnautoff mural, The Richmond Standard.)

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The Revolutionary Post

SteveBlog

99% Invisible: There are currently more than 31,000 post offices in the United States. Some are grand old ones that take up entire city blocks. Others are smaller—hidden away in the backs of general stores and in other odd places across rural America. And one of these smaller ones may be the most rural post office in the continental U.S.

The Supai post office is located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Every day, ten pack mules carrying mail make the two-and-a-half hour trip into the canyon. The post office is there to serve the people on the Havasupai reservation.

The Supai post office was established in 1896, and its existence speaks to the lengths that the postal service has gone to since its founding connect people to each other.
Winifred Gallagher, author of How the Post Office Created America: A History, argues that the post office is not simply an inexpensive way to send a letter. The service was designed to unite a bunch of disparate towns and people under one flag, and in doing so, she believes the post office actually created the United States of America.  Read more.

 

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