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White Mills post office could close

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USPS studies 3,700 rural offices

By Amber Coulter

The future of the post office in White Mills is in question.

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The United States Postal Service announced Tuesday that it will conduct studies of about 3,700 retail offices, including the one in White Mills, to determine customer needs.

Needs have changed in recent years, with many post office transactions being conducted online and within retail stores, according to a news release from the postal service.

More than 35 percent of the postal service’s retail revenue comes from expanded access locations, such as grocery stores, self-service kiosks, automated teller machines and usps.com, according to the release.

“Our customers’ habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in the release.

White Mills Postmaster Violet Stith disagrees and hopes her post office and others being considered will remain open.

“I’m very concerned for the community as a whole, for all our communities, for our customers,” she said.

Stith, the only full-time employee at the White Mills Post Office, said some of those communities have had their own post offices since the 1800s.

The White Mills office doesn’t carry mail on routes. It offers post office box rental and every other regular postal service except for passports.

Stith said the post office also offers more to the community than stamps and shipping.

Customers come in trying to find out where cemeteries are located, asking for directions and asking for news about their neighbors, she said.

One woman from California visited looking for information about her ancestors. It turned out that she and Stith were third cousins.

Stith knows most of her customers by face or name in the office that she calls her home away from home.

“You’re looking at the identity of that community being gone,” she said. “This is my hometown, here. I love it with all my heart and hate to see anything taken away from a community that would just be devastated.”

Ben Fulcher, manager of White Mills Christian Camp, said the camp was about to mail 4,000 letters about programs, fundraising information and newsletters when the news came Tuesday.

“I hope they don’t close,” he said. “It would affect us tremendously.”

Fulcher said the camp is probably the post office’s biggest customer, and it’s convenient to pick up campers’ mail every day.

There’s more mail coming in than ever with a record-breaking 1,500 campers this summer, he said.

“We had so much mail last week, it was crazy,” he said.

Fulcher said he thinks it will dampen the spirits of community members if the post office is closed.

“White Mills isn’t very big, but the post office is kind of the center of it, the hub of it,” he said.

One possible option for making sure that postal service resources are used in the best way possible is to locate post office services within local businesses, according to the release.

That option could be used for communities currently without a postal retail office or those that would be left without one by potential changes, according to the release.

Stith doesn’t know what will happen to her job if the post office is closed.

She’s hopeful it will remain open.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.