“To close this post office would be like driving a dagger through the heart of downtown,” Cheraw Mayor Andy Ingram told the small crowd of people who met at Town Hall Tuesday. The group met to plan a line of defense against United States Postal Service executives who will be at the Cheraw Community Center this evening, Thursday, Aug. 23, at 6:30 p.m., to discuss the future of Cheraw’s downtown postal facility.
Wesley Teal, a postal employee who has worked in the historic building for most of his adult life, said the 1930s building is “part of my life. I work in it everyday.” But, he said, not everybody feels that way. Those who have the authority to close the facility and move all local operations to the post office annex building on Hwy 9, don’t see it that way. “They’re only looking at the cost,” said Teal.
The group collectively agreed that an emotional appeal to the historical significance of the building won’t likely pull much weight with the postal officials. “We have won this battle twice already,” said Phil Powell, executive director for the Greater Cheraw Chamber of Commerce. “But one can travel, just a short distance, through small towns in South Carolina and see where other towns have lost this battle.”
The post office in Bishopville, for instance, was purchased several years ago and converted to a retail tobacco shop.
Powell said the “biggest argument to overcome … is telling them how to run their business more efficiently. I don’t know where the rabbit is in that hat. If I did, I’d reach in and pull him out.”
The creation of a Village Post Office was mentioned, if indeed the downtown operations are moved to the annex building. However, Ingram said the town couldn’t possibly afford to do something like that right now. “We’ve got a major investment currently with the Cheraw Complex, and that’s a top priority. I don’t see where we can afford to go and buy another building.”
Determined to fight the good fight, Ingram has enlisted politicians in Columbia and Washington for their support at the meeting this evening, but urges any residents interested in keeping the downtown post office alive to make their way to the Community Center as a show of support against the closing.
“The post office brings everybody downtown at some time or another,” said David Sides, director of Tourism and Leisure Services. To take away that energy, and traffic count, from downtown merchants, he said, “would take away much of the charm that makes Cheraw so unique.”