Chester on verge of losing its post office

Carl Haayer has been OIC at Chester for three years. He commented Chester was the only post office located directly on Highway 63 and he has the truck business to prove it.

Chester was one of about 165 post offices in Iowa notified on Tuesday that it is on the chopping block and may be closed.

The United States Post Office has released a study of nearly 3,700 potential closings in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.

Chester, along with Castalia, Frederika and Stout, in Area 4 will be looked at over the next several weeks to determine their value to their communities.

OIC (Officer In Charge) Carl Haayer at Chester explained a feasibility study will be initiated in the next several weeks and involves a review of the effect of the post office closing in relation to the community, employees, postal services and economic savings. The post office claims community feedback will be considered before a final determination is made.

Chester’s post master is still Jerry Buttolph, who fills in at other post offices. Haayer has been employed by the post office for 16 years, the last three as OIC. He said business has slowed down in the past few years. “We lost 40 families when Minnesota wanted those with Minnesota addresses to have their mail delivered from Minnesota instead of through Chester. The mail volume has also really cut down because of phones and computers.”

He did say parcels have increased in Chester.

In a press release, the postal service pretty much agreed with Haayer’s observations.

“Our customers’ habits have made it clear they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business.

“More and more of them are choosing to conduct their postal business online, on their smart phone and at their shopping destinations. And that means the need for us to maintain nearly 32,000 retail offices has diminished.

“So we are taking the next step in right-sizing our retail network by studying approximately 3,700 retail offices to determine customer needs. As part of this study, we are introducing a retail-replacement option –– Village Post Offices –– as an option for affected communities.

“Village Post Offices would be operated by local businesses, such as pharmacies, grocery stores and other appropriate retailers, and would offer popular postal products and services such as stamps and flat-rate packaging.”

Things may be going back to the old days when the post office was located in the general store and the storekeeper handed out the mail.

Population, along with other data, will be a factor in determining which post offices close or stay open. Of the 165 potential closings, Chester, with a population of 127, is in the middle range with many towns having less population. Benton, Iowa, with a population of 41, will possibly close, along with Wallingford, with a population of 819.

Our neighbors to the north, Minnesota, will also be closing post offices. Eighty-eight are currently being looked at. In the list given, Taopi, population 58, was not named.

Look for more information in the future.

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