The ominous, proverbial ax that has closed small, historically significant post office buildings all across America, is once again looming over Cheraw.
A press release sent Monday afternoon from the United States Postal Service had Cheraw Mayor Andy Ingram “on the phone all day, gathering “outside support” to help fight the possible closing of Cheraw’s historic downtown Post Office.
Representatives of the U.S. Postal Service will be in town Thursday, Aug. 23, 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m., at the Cheraw Community Center for a public meeting. According to Harry Spratlin, spokesman for the Postal Service, the meeting is “part of a relocation survey that may lead to the relocation of the retail finance unit in Cheraw, SC, from 248 Market St. to the carrier annex at 91 Calvary Rd.”
“This is a serious threat (to close the post office),” said Ingram. “We can’t take it lightly. We have to move on it and move on it quickly!”
Ingram has called a special meeting at Cheraw Town Hall Tuesday, Aug. 21, at 5:30 p.m. with politicians and board members from across the state. The purpose of this meeting, two days prior to the meeting with post office officials, said Ingram, is to develop “strategies on just what is needed to present to the postal representatives.”
“We need a full court press on it,” said Ingram. “I’ve called on Sen. Lindsay Graham, Sen. Vincent Sheheen, Rep. Ted Vick, members of Chesterfield County Council, chamber board members and everyone I could think of that might lend us a hand.”
“Community input will be accepted at the meeting and submitted to the leadership of the U.S. Postal Service Eastern Facilities Service Office and the Greater South Carolina District, allowing 30 days for a decision,” said Harry Spratlin, Communications Coordinator for the Greater South Carolina District of the U.S. Postal Service.
Public comments on the matter will be accepted, by mail, until Sept. 23, 2012. Any comments regarding the closing of Cheraw’s Post Office on Market Street should be mailed to: Public Comments-Cheraw Relocation, P.O. Box 929993, Columbia, SC 29292-9993.
Once a decision is reached, said Spratlin, “the decision will be sent to local officials in writing and posted in the finance unit.” It will then, again, be followed by a 30-day appeal period.
The press release reads: “If the decision is made to relocate the unit, the building will be sold at fair market value. Thereafter, renovations will be made to the carrier annex to provide full retail and P.O. Box service. The buyer may provide Postal retail services, including P.O. Box service, in the Market St. building by applying to operate a Village Post Office.”
“After full consideration of a proposal made by Cheraw city officials to sell the carrier annex and move the carriers back to the finance unit housed in temporary units, the USPS Eastern Facilities Service Office has recommended relocation for the following reasons: 1) The 7,670 sq. ft. finance unit, built as the Cheraw Post Office in 1932, is outmoded and the building and property are not conducive to expansions or renovations which would provide adequate customer access, as well as providing safety and security for the mail, trucks, vehicles and 22 employees. 2) The town is not populous enough (5,824 2010 U. S. Census) to warrant a station or branch unit 3) The 14,761 sq. ft. carrier annex, located 2.7 miles away, was designed to house complete service and can easily be renovated.”
“The Postal Service, which does not receive tax subsidies, is in dire economic circumstances,” said Spratlin. “The agency, which is losing $25 million a day, has experienced multi-billion dollar shortfalls in each of the last five years.”
“We know this is disappointing for some residents who wished for the Postal Service to continue to own and operate this building,” said Spratlin. “The move was economically prudent in 1998 when the carrier annex was built. However, today, considering the Postal Service’s current financial circumstances, it is imperative to scale back expenses. If the move is made, there will be no net reduction in Postal Service for the town of Cheraw. Moves such as this have been carried out in literally hundreds of towns nationwide over the years, many of them here in South Carolina, including Gaffney, Greer, Bishopville, Anderson, Batesburg and Newberry to name a few. We are proud to serve the community in Cheraw, and will continue to give the great service they are accustomed to.”
Spratlin also reminds the public that the U.S. Postal Service is “a self-supporting government enterprise … the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation, 150 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no direct support from taxpayers. With 36,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, the Postal Service relies on the sale of postage, products and services to pay for operating expenses.”
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.