July 26, 2011
The U.S. Postal Service released a list Tuesday morning of nearly 3,700 post offices it’s considering closing.
The list includes 134 Kansas post offices, including the Viola office in Sedgwick County.
"People always say we lose our identity, and everyone always says when you lose a business, regardless of what kind of a business it is, your town loses a little bit of something, and desire for people to want to come in," said Bonnie Gerlach, former Viola post master.
The Postal Service says that, because of changes in consumer behavior, such as more customers conducting business on-line or in their shopping destinations, “the need for us to maintain nearly 32,000 retail destinations has diminished.”
If the Viola post office were to close, Gerlach says she would have to drive 6 miles to Conway springs, or 8 miles to Clearwater. "From there, it goes on to 12, 14, 15 miles away."
However, the Postal Service also is unveiling a potential replacement for towns that would lose access to postal services altogether. It’s branding the idea as the Village Post Office.
“Village Post Offices would be operated by local businesses, such as pharmacies, grocery stores and other appropriate retailers, and would offer popular postal products and services such as stamps and flat-rate packaging,” the Postal Service says.
"In the past 5 years, mail volume has declined by 43 billion pieces, or 20%. That's because of the poor economy, and the electronic diversion, and things like email and electronic bill payment," said Brian Sperry, Regional Spokesman for USPS. "These locations were chosen because they get the least amount of foot traffic and retail sales."
A full list of Kansas offices the postal service is studying is available here