Mason City patrons prepare for battle

MASON CITY -- Mason City is on the list. Their post office patrons have been informed. The Mason City Post Office is set to close, unless the community can prove it’s not a good idea. The community met last week in preparation for the Oct. 17 community hearing, and there was one thing those present made perfectly clear, they are not going down without a fight. “We may or may not be able to make a difference, but for personal satisfaction we need to give it a try,” said Phil Zimmer at Thursday’s meeting. “This train has pulled out of the station, and one thing for sure, if we don’t do anything, if we don’t show up, if we don’t speak up, it will close.” Mason City was not on any earlier lists, said Zimmer. But they are now. They join Sumner, Oconto, Seneca, Comstock and Purdum in the fight to stay open. Zimmer wants everyone to know how critical it is for everyone to fill out the Post Office’s survey and to be present at the Oct. 17 community meeting. “If no one shows up and the district man is there, the post office will close,” he said. It is also important for people to ask for written responses if they have a question. If written responses are requested then the Postal Regulatory Commission has 120 days to answer. If no written appeals are filed, the Post Office has the authority close the doors in 30 days. October 17, the district representative will give reasons why they are considering closing the post office and the community is invited to give reasons why they believe it should stay open. The representative, they have been told, will stay for as long as the people do. “Don’t give up without a fight,” Zimmer emphasized. It was also pointed out to not wait until deadline to turn your survey in. “Get it out,” he said. Historically, the post office patrons are promised that they will not lose their identity, that their zip code and address locating them in Mason City will remain. Those with a rural identity will remain the same. What does change is the sense of community that a post office brings. “I want the security of having my mail delivered to a post office box, I don’t want to pick it up along side the highway,” Zimmer said. “They are not going to save a lot by closing Mason City,” he said. “How will the elderly get their medication?” Joan Cox asked at last Thursday’s gathering. To the Mason City Post Office patrons, the Post Office provides a sense of community. It’s a gathering place, a daily destination for some. “When you go to get your mail, if there is someone you are use to seeing and they aren’t there, you start to get worried,” Cox added. They are worried about the loss of services the office provides from stamps to packages, and worried about the people who work there. They are worried about their town. They are worried about how they will go about doing their business, from banking to communication. They are worried about how to send out water samples. They are worried about Medicare and insurance communications. They are worried about losing the security of having their mail delivered someplace other than in a building they call home. They are worried about their town. Mason City is an aging community where the loss of even one job is felt all along Main Street. The Post Office has a set of rules it has to go by in order to close. There are more than 3,200 post offices on the list for review to possibly close, or consolidate. “Look at this,” said Greg Cooper while picking up his mail. “Forty-four cents to send a letter cross country. That’s pretty cheap. It’s worth more. The Constitution set the premise of why and how the Post Offices were established and 44 cents is affordable. There are certain things that are worth it. Keeping this post office (Mason City) open needs to be looked at, so does the price of sending out our mail.” When a post office finds itself on the list, one of the first steps taken by the district office is to send out a survey and/or host a townhall meeting. When the post office is in a small town, the office serves as more than a receptacle for housing the mail. It serves as a community bond, a meeting place where the bulletin board is housed, and were neighbors check up on the well-being of their friends. One of the cases typically made by the district office is that the post office isn’t bringing in enough money. If that is the only reason given, then the post office cannot be legally shut down. Current law (39 U.S.C. 101(b)) requires that “the Postal Service shall provide a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas.” Compliance is not optional, but how that service is generated is.