Woodston, Catharine added to proposed postal closings

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

The U.S. Postal Service has added Catharine and Woodston to its list of proposed closings, offering mail delivery by rural carriers instead.

Even with Woodston and Catharine added to the list of six already proposed for closing, the annual savings will amount to about $167,000 annually.

That's less than two-thousandths of 1 percent of the $10 billion the USPS is projected to lose this fiscal year, a loss that could jettison it into insolvency if Congress doesn't step up and offer a helping hand.

Woodston already has had its community meeting, while the Catharine meeting will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Catharine school.

Under a new closing process, the USPS first develops its closing proposal.

Then it conducts a community meeting. It also starts a 60-day comment period.

In the past, the meeting was first with the proposal to follow. Woodston falls within both the old and new processes.

It's the proposal that determines if closing is warranted and how much money will be saved if the office is closed.

In the case of Woodston, revenue has been increasing slightly, but only amounted to a bit more than $8,000 a year. The annual savings, however, would be about $11,454.

At Catharine, revenue is down as well, to $5,730 in fiscal year 2010. Annual savings would be $26,881.

In the prior proposals -- in Park, Alton and Gaylord -- the savings amount to about $70,000. The savings increase to $100,898 if Esbon is included. Lebanon, in Smith County, would be the closest post office to Esbon.

USPS also has recommended closing the post office in Cedar.

Closing summaries are short summaries of the studies, accounting for only two pages. But they provide some details about what will happen.

The Park proposal suggests the savings would be about $32,000 a year -- $320,800 during a 10-year period, but it's unclear how that amount is reached. It also claims revenue has declined in recent years, but the report shows the revenue has remained almost constant at about $19,000 annually.

It also shows the postal service might provide cluster boxes, although it appears rural delivery services might be available as well.

The proposal forms essentially are the same, but with differing details.

* Alton: Revenue has declined from almost $23,000 in 2007 to $19,876 in fiscal year 2010. Delivery would come from Stockton. Savings would amount to $155,309 during 10 years. Two postal employees would be relocated and one temporary employee could be terminated.

* Gaylord: Revenue has declined from $14,259 in 2007 to $13,786 in 2010. Rural carrier service will be provided through the Smith Center office. The savings is expected to be $249,650 through 10 years.

However, the proposal claims the Gaylord facility had severe building deficiencies, but identified them as "none."

It also claims Gaylord is an unincorporated community, "administered politically by Mayor-City Council."

Gaylord was founded in 1879 and -- even though it only has 114 residents -- continues to be an incorporated city.