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Residents fight for post office



Laste modified: Monday, December 26, 2011
In her fight to keep Boscawen's post office open, Elaine Clow figured she'd go straight to the top.

'I'm going to start with the president,' said Clow, the secretary of the Boscawen Historical Society. 'Why not? The town elected him; he may as well know our concerns.'

'Please help us,' Clow wrote in a letter last week to elected officials, including President Obama, the New Hampshire congressional delegation and representatives of the Postal Service. 'Why are we being targeted in this manner? We want to know, because this affects most of us in town.'

A new contract between the American Postal Workers Union and the Postal Service, ratified in May, mandated that the post office on King Street close Jan. 6. The postmistress, Laura Lane, was notified in a letter dated Oct. 28. Post office box-holders received formal notification last week.

The collective bargaining agreement mandates the closure of 20 contract postal stations nationwide and will save the Postal Service, which receives no tax dollars, $3.8 billion over the next three years.

But Boscawen's contract station costs the Postal Service less than $8,500 annually because the town provides and maintains the building free of charge. All the Postal Service covers is Lane's $8,300 salary and the cost of a phone line.

Clow said locals are willing to pick up the cost of Boscawen's post office, which is open 18 hours a week, has 36 post office boxes and is a short drive from Salisbury and Penacook.

'We are Yankees, and pragmatic in making do and doing with what we have, rather than doing without, if it's something we want and need,' Clow wrote in the letter, which was accompanied by copies of historical records and a petition of 700 signatures.

Clow also argued the unique characteristics of the town warrant a post office. 'Our recent census data indicates that about 48 percent of the town's population of just under 4,000 live at or below the poverty level,' she wrote. 'We have 12 mobile home parks, most of them consisting of outdated trailers from the 1950s, '60s, and '70s.'

She listed the dozens of agencies, nursing homes and businesses in Boscawen and explained the historic nature of Routes 3 and 4, which intersect less than a mile from the building.

'These were busy routes back in the day, and we get approximately 14,000 vehicles a day traveling on these routes in our town now,' she wrote.

Tom Rizzo, a spokesman for the Postal Service, said Boscawen's post office will close Jan. 6, and he has heard no information to contradict that.

But in their effort to push any and every button to keep their post office open, residents have received conflicting information from various officials, some of whom Clow cited in her letter.

One official in Colorado, Clow wrote, told residents they could try to reopen in a different way, but that they'd need to create demand.

But there's already a demand, Clow and other residents said. Michele Tremblay said she's gone to the post office on Loudon Road in Concord at every time of day hoping to avoid a long wait but has failed.

'It's always a tremendously long line, so I don't really understand all this business about need,' said Tremblay, who runs a consulting business out of her Boscawen home.

Residents, who update one another via email, have been further confused by recent news reports that thousands of post offices identified for possible closure - in a process independent of that affecting Boscawen's - had received reprieves.

Tremblay, who has to reprint all stationery related to her business, including checks, business cards and invoices because of Boscawen's closure, had postponed ordering new products because she mistakenly believed the reprieve applied to her post office, too.

'That just sort of underscores how poorly this has been handled,' Tremblay said.

Despite the challenges, Clow said she's optimistic things will break their way.

'I realize that we're swimming upstream,' she said. 'But it's one of those things that is just such a need for the community.'

(Molly A.K. Connors can be reached at 369-3319 or mconnors@cmonitor.com.)