Fenton residents air views on post office plan

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2011

FENTON — Residents here say the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to close their post office would be an inconvenience, especially for the elderly.

“Fenton has been tromped on for years,” resident Richard McNabb said. “We lost our high school because of poor politics … . If we lose the post office, that’s another black eye we get.”

McNabb was among more than 60 residents who voiced concerns Monday during a meeting with postal officials at Fenton Elementary School.

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Rachel Cousin, marketing manager for the USPS, said the Fenton post office is among more than 50 across Louisiana that could be closed as the agency attempts to cut costs. The Fenton Post Office generated $2,200 last year, she said.

“For many years we were profitable, but that hasn’t been since 2006 because of the turn in the economy and the general practice of people not mailing anymore,” Cousin said. “Everybody went to electronic media and emails.”

The USPS lost $8.5 billion last year and an average of $23 million a day so far this year, she said.

Among the proposals, Cousin said the Fenton Post Office could be moved to the Kinder Post Office. Residents would maintain their post office boxes and addresses, she said.

Other choices include street delivery by rural carriers or a village post office — a local business where post office boxes would be located. Residents would be able to buy stamps and pick up mail at the village post office, but they could not buy postal money orders and certified mail or weigh packages, Cousin said.

Local author Morena Johnson Caleb said closing the post office would be a hardship on her because she cannot drive and does a lot of business with the post office.

The move would also deprive local residents of a meeting place.

“We’re not a visiting neighborhood, but we see each other at the post office,” she said. “That’s all we have in Fenton.”

Mayor Eddie Alfred Jr. suggested an alternative — place a portable building near the Fenton school to serve as a post office. The property is also being eyed for a community center, walking track, park and fire station.

“A lot of economic development is taking place, and our population is going to increase in just a matter of time,” Alfred said. “We need a post office.”

The USPS leases its Fenton building for $9,240 a year. Alfred said his plan would cost the postal service $2,400 a year.

Al Christopher, the USPS discontinuance coordinator, said the facility Alfred proposes would be considered a new post office. A moratorium has been placed on building or leasing new post offices, he said.