Almost two dozen rural post offices slated for closure by the United States Postal Service will remain open, including postal facilities in Brothers, Post, Paulina and Fort Rock.
Sen. Jeff Merkley announced late last week that the Postal Service has agreed that closing the facilities would place undue hardship on rural residents who rely on the post offices for personal and professional purposes.
The Source wrote this past year about how the proposed closing would impact people living around Brothers for whom the facility serves both as a means of communication and community. At the time, the postal service was mulling the closure of more than 3,600 post offices around the country, primarily in rural areas. More than 40 of those were located in Oregon.
Merkley's office said that the roughly 20 post offices around the state not included on the current list of exempted facilities would nonetheless remain open for the next six months while the agency studies the closures. In the meantime, Merkely and Oregon's other democratic senator, Ron Wyden, are pushing a bill that would prohibit the closure of postal facilities that are located more than 10 miles from the next post office.
In addition to rural post offices, the Postal Service is also looking to shutter the Bend sorting facility, a move that it says would save the agency roughly $2.1 million per year. The closures are part of a national downsizing strategy by the Postal Service as it struggles with declining revenue and demand for service and a growing liability related to its pension fund for the legions of retired postal workers. The agency lost roughly $5 billion last year, even as it raised postage rates. The problem: a precipitous decline in the use of traditional mail. According to the L.A. Times, the volume of first class mail processed by the Postal Service has dropped from 98 billion letters and correspondences to 73.5 billion over the past five years. The agency is now at, or near, its $15 million credit limit from the U.S. Treasury.