Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What It's About!

     The purpose of this site is to provide information and advocacy tools to residents of the 179 rural Arkansas communities whose post offices are on the list of facilities the U.S. Postal Service is considering closing.  The site is provided by Rural Community Alliance, a state wide non-profit organization whose purpose is “helping rural schools and communities survive and thrive.”

May 9,2012 - 

Today, May 9, the Postmaster General issued a press release saying that rural post offices will remain open, but retail hours will be reduced in order to cut costs.  Read the Postmaster General’s press release on our website:

The release includes a list of rural post offices (by state and ZIP code) with their current hours and proposed reduced hours. We have yet to determine whether there will be an appeal process on the reduced hours.

This letter from Congressman Crawford was sent on May 4.  We appreciate his efforts and all of Arkansas’ congressional delegation for going to bat for their rural constituents.


The week after Christmas, New York Times reporter Campbell Robertson contacted RCA and visited several of our communities and interviewed people who have fought the proposed closing of their local post office.  His story is in the print version of the New York Times todayJanuary 5 (Section A, Page 12).  Here is a link to the online story  The online version includes a slide show with 10 photos and a link to RCA’s website.

In late July the U.S. Postal Service “dropped the bomb” on rural communities across Arkansas and the entire country with their plan to close over 3,500 post offices.  Our staff and members across Arkansas mobilized immediately.  A member in west Arkansas requested that RCA put up a website devoted to providing rural Arkansans information that would help them wage their fight.  Lavina tackled that immediately and threw up a quick website that has a wealth of useful information  The activity to that website has exceeded our expectations, with 1,173 visits in four months.

Dorothy has worked with several Delta communities helping in their response.  She had a vinyl banner printed, announcing the public meeting that was used at Sherrill, Wabbaseka, and Humnoke then sent north to Fox and then west to Tilly.  She organized several mailings to residents.  Renee worked in several Ozarks communities and produced a YouTube video with Fox residents talking about the importance of the post office  We’ve attended numerous post office public meetings across the state and fielded many phone calls.  We made ourselves available to assist community members whether or not they were members of our organization.

As a result of the grassroots activity of our members and others across Arkansas, Senator Boozman and Representative Crawford have introduced companion bills that would lessen the impact of post office closings by imposing a distance limit.  Please offer them your support in getting these bills passed.

But we didn’t accomplish all this by ourselves.  We were fortunate to partner with retired postmasters across Arkansas and benefitted from their passion and knowledge.  The national publicity we received from our efforts stemmed from a phone call from Suphatra Laviolette at the Marguerite Casey Foundation in September that led to a story by Casey’s Equal Voice Newspaper reporter Kathy Mulady. 

Kathy Mulady from Seattle and photographer Jared Soares from Virginia paid us a visit in September and we did a whirlwind tour, attending an official post office meeting in Lambrook (Phillips County), and Kathy interviewed local people from Lambrook, Sherrill, Humnoke, Wabbaseka, and Fox.  Equal Voice Newspaper published two of Kathy’s stories, Return to Sender and Rural Residents Fight Back to Save Local Post Offices  The Newspaper also published a video and a slideshow of photographs by Soares.  It was Kathy’s second story that was read by the New YorkTimes reporter and resulted in his call to do a story about, as he put it, the “pushback from rural communities.”

We thank each of you for your support of rural Arkansas and encourage you to contact us if we can be of assistance in issues that impact families and rural Arkansans.  We know the work will be strengthened by joining forces with those who truly care about rural Arkansas.

Renee Carr, CPA, MSCED
Executive Director
Rural Community Alliance 

The outcry from rural people across America, who organized, advocated, and contacted their congressional leaders has been heard.  In a press release the USPS announced on Tuesday that post office closings will be put on hold until May 15, 2012 to allow Congress to pass legislation to address the system-wide financial problems.  Thank you for doing your part in contacting our Arkansas congressmen.  They certainly heard your voice, with two of them, Representative Crawford and Senator Boozman, sponsoring bills to lessen the impact on rural post offices.  Thank you to all of Arkansas’ congressional delegation for listening to constituents’ concerns.
Merry Christmas, everybody!
POSTAL REGULATORY COMMISSION REMANDS CLOSURE OF MONROE, AR, POST OFFICE FOR FURTHER STUDY (Dec. 5, 2011) Apparently the PRC found that the USPS did not address distance to next Post Office and possibly failed to advertise for the vacant position of post master, for which the USPS claimed they "could not" find a replacement. For people facing an appeal, you might find it helpful to see the appeal and ruling at  

UPDATE FROM ACTIVIST KATHY HENTHORNE (Nov. 22, 2011):  Just heard yesterday that Oakland is off the list; attended Vendor and Peel last week.  Good crowds and good questions.  Peel is in a unique situation; Ark residents living across the lake receive their mail at their home from Missouri but must have a PO box at Peel for drivers license, etc.  Oakland may be in a similar situation. Everything is hold now until Jan 2; Everton has not received their final determination posting, so that's good.  Congress has heard rural America's Roar.   

Click on "Tool Kit" (right) for tools to help save your post office.   New Post (at right): Oct. 2011 status list for all PO's on study list.
Thanks to Rural School and Community Trust staffer Page McCullough for this article on closing rural post offices and rural schools:

 Cong. Rick Crawford and Sen. John Boozman sponsor legislation to limit rural post office closures:
H.R. 3370: Protecting Our Rural Post Offices Act of 2011 Fact Sheet
·         In July 2011, the USPS announced it was considering the closure of 3,652 retail postal facilities1.
o   At the end of FY2010, there were 35,633 retail postal facilities in the United States1.
·         While the USPS is a self-serving entity, the U.S Congress requires the USPS to serve the public as a whole:
o   "The Postal Service shall provide a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas, communities, and small towns where post offices are not self-sustaining. No small post office shall be closed solely for operating at a deficit, it being the specific intent of the Congress that effective postal services be insured to residents of both urban and rural communities" (39 U.S.C. 101(b))1.
·         Despite laws put in place to protect rural post offices, rural communities have been overwhelmingly targeted for closings.
o   In Arkansas 211 post offices have been targeted for closure2.
§  100 of which fall in the 1st District2.
·         If you were to spread post office closures evenly amongst every Congressional District, you would need to close roughly 8 per district to reach the USPS’ goal of 3,652 offices.
o   There is nothing fair about the USPS’s current method for closing post offices and rural Americans are being burdened with the majority of these closures.
·         H.R. 3370 would prevent the USPS from closing any post office that does not have an alternate post office within 8 miles as measured by year-round roads.
o   Rural roads are rarely straight from town to town and while a post office may be within a 10 mile distance as the crow flies, by no means does that mean that the post office is within 10 miles driving. This legislation would only use the actual driving distance between post offices to determine whether a post office is eligible for closing.
·         The USPS ran an estimated deficit of nearly $10 billion in FY2010 and there is a clear need for serious reform to cut costs to avoid a taxpayer bailout3.
o   This legislation does not hinder the USPS’s ability to address its unsustainable labor costs and can be seen as a companion to postal reform legislation that ensure that reform does not come solely on the backs of rural Americans.
o   The real source of the USPS’ long term debt is soaring labor costs that make up 80% of their total costs3. This must be addressed.
§  If the USPS were to close all of the proposed 3,653 post offices it would only result in a savings of $200 million per year1. This will do little to rectify the USPS’s astronomical deficit which was approximately $10.8 billion in FY2011.
o   As revenue continues to decline, there is a clear need to downsize the USPS. H.R. 3370 will ensure that the USPS takes a balanced and fair approach to cutting costs. 

1. Kosar, Kevin R., Analyst in American National Government for the Congressional Research Service.    “The U.S. Postal Service: Common Questions About Post Office Closures.” August 4,2011.
2. Prov: Cathy Pagano, United States Postal Service, Arkansas Study List
3. Kosar, Kevin R., Analyst in American National Government for the Congressional Research Service.    “The U.S. Postal Service’s Financial Condition: Overview and Issues for Congress.” August 4,2011.

Click here:
to read a resolution passed by Arkansas legislators requesting a representative to appear before the Legislative Council to explaing why so many rural post offices are targeted for closure.

Copy and paste this link to watch a video of a Sherrill, AR, resident talking about the need for a local post office in his community:


NEWS FLASH: October 14, 2011.  There is some action in Congress to save rural post offices.  SEE NEW POST UNDER TOOL KIT (menu at right).  However, it's not enough. We have to save rural post offices AND save the quality of our mail service by stopping the closure of processing plants. We need Congress to remove the unnecessary burden of excess pension plan payments so the Postal Service is not crippled financially by this unreasonable requirement. READ THE NEW POST AND THE INFORMATION BELOW.  WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN.

Update:  See bottom of page for article explaining how the whole "crisis" in the Postal Service has been manufactured to serve the agenda of privatizing this quasi-governmental service. Read how slashing the number of post offices and distribution centers to save an infinitesimal percentage of the USPS budget will virtually do away with first-class mail.  First our industries, then main street businesses and our schools, now our most relied-on government service--how much more can wrongheaded actions by our government damage rural America before we become a third-world country?  

Go to "History and Opinion" page for documentation of how the USPS manipulates post office closings.

Passage of HR1351 Would Save Jobs and Post Offices
From September 28:
U.S. mail workers urge act’s passage
Lawmaker’s office draws rally in LR
By Aprille Hanson

LITTLE ROCK -- LITTLE ROCK — More than 50 postal workers and union supporters held a rally on the sidewalk and in the median near U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin’s North University Avenue office in Little Rock on Tuesday, chanting “Pass 1351, Get ’er done.”
Signs reading “Save America’s Postal Service” were raised high as motorists honked in support.
The rally was one of hundreds held throughout the United States — and four in Arkansas — as part of a national effort by postal unions to drum up support for HR1351, also known as the United States Postal Service Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011.
“There’s no reason for the post office to go to five-day delivery,” said David Anderson, a U.S. Postal Service employee since 1984 and president of the state Association of Letter Carriers. “There’s no reason to close all these post offices.”
The bill, introduced in April, will give the Postal Service access to funds it has overpaid to the Civil Service Retirement Fund since 1970, Anderson said, adding that the U.S. Postal Service has overpaid the retirement fund between $55 billion and $75 billion.
So far, there are 216 cosponsors of the bill, including Rep. Mike Ross, who represents Arkansas’ 4th District. Griffin and Arkansas’ other two Republican congressmen, Rick Crawford and Steve Womack, have not signed on as cosponsors.
Anderson, who met with the three congressmen a few weeks ago in Washington, said they did not seem willing to support the bill.
“We’re dealing with three freshman congressmen and it’s not surprising they chose the ‘wait-and-see’ attitude,” Anderson said.
No one from Griffin’s office attended the rally. Spokesman Jonathan Samford said in an e-mail, “Our office did not receive an invitation to speak with the postal unions, but Congressman Griffin would welcome the opportunity to discuss the challenges facing the Postal Service with them.”
Anita Lewallen, branch president of the National Association of Letter Carriers in Conway, said “I called them on Friday reminding them that we were looking for his support ... I invited him to be out here and he obviously chose not to.”
Rally members delivered about 300 signatures of support to Griffin’s office, where they met with Ashley Golleher, Griffin’s district representative.
Lewallen described the meeting as “productive.”
In an e-mail, Griffin said, “Given that the USPS will lose a record $10 billion this year, I am looking closely at the various post office reform proposals. Fundamental reform, not a taxpayer-funded bailout, is required to keep the USPS functional and able to provide vital services to Arkansans and all Americans.”
Dan Versluis, the regional administrative assistant to the National Association of Letter Carriers, said the “the letter and mail carriers are the eyes and ears of the community,” and have not received public tax dollars in 30 years.
“We’ve got some big problems with the Postal Service through no fault of our own,” Versluis said. “Everyone thinks taxes, taxes, taxes ... Stick a stamp on a letter, that’s our paycheck.”
Ricky Belk, the secretarytreasurer of the Arkansas AFL-CIO said the proposed legislation is an opportunity for Congress to be “a part of the solution, not the problem.”
“At a time when we have elected officials saying we need to create jobs, this is an instance to keep the jobs we have,” Belk said.
In January, the U.S. Postal Service said it intended to close or merge 2,000 post offices by 2012 because of an economic downturn as a result of a “drastic decline in mail volume,” according to a June article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Other money-saving methods such as five-day delivery would eliminate 80,000 positions across the United States, Anderson said.
An estimated $9 billion is expected in losses for the U.S. Postal Service this year.
However, Anderson said it is not from technological advances putting “snail mail” in a financial hole, but rather a congressional mandate that the Postal Service prefund retiree health benefits.
The agency is required to prefund 75 years’ worth of future retiree health benefits within 10 years.
According to, so far $47 billion has been deposited into the health-benefits fund.
Local postal union officials said if they had access to the overpaid funds, the Postal Service would not be in financial straits.
“We’re funding retirement and health benefits for people that haven’t been born,” said Lewallen.
Annual advance payments to the account are required and the agency must pay $5.5 billion by Friday.
Though the bill does not eliminate the mandate, it will provide a way for the Postal Service to provide the payment without having to close post offices and cut services, Anderson said.
Carol Schneider, who’s been a postal worker for 30 years and served as a postmaster for Fox and Carlisle, said a post office is a rural community’s identity.
“I still use snail mail so this affects me as much as anyone who uses mail,” Schneider said. “It’s important to the country and it’s important to make a stand.”

SAT OCT 01, 2011 AT 11:19 AM PDT

USPS: Vultures Roosting in the Eagle's Nest

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The vultures on the verge of destroying the US Postal Service are not merely circling. They've landed in the nest, ready to plunder and privatize, having fully captured USPS management and oversight. It's clear to many that the the Post Office has enemies in Congress, to wit Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), among others. But it's also apparent that there are those in management and oversight who are just as determined to destroy the Post Office, who are in the service not of the American people but of those who consider the USPS their competition and who are eager to devour the advantages it currently maintains.
The postmaster general plans to make drastic cuts that will do away with first-class service, give the pickings to FedEx and the like, and continue propping up bulk mailers (who currently pay less than what it costs the USPS to process and deliver their junk mail). Those cuts will devastate small towns and inner cities, reduce the USPS to a third-class bulk mailer, and replace its middle-class workforce with a workforce of the working poor.  All this for what?
Abdicating 6-day delivery to private postal services would, by Government Accountability Office estimates, save costs of only 4 percent of the USPS budget. USPS management has admitted that it wiped one small-town post office off the map because it "'cost' the USPS $1,500 a year more than it made in sales of stamps and money orders." Never mind the mandate that the USPS serve all Americans. Never mind that the USPS is not meant to make a profit but rather to be a self-sustaining service to the American people. Never mind that closing a post office because it is not "profitable" is against the law.
The devastating cuts proposed by the postmaster general—the projected savings of which are absurdly small—will serve only to weaken the USPS, not strengthen it, not put it on firm financial footing. All of the aspects of USPS service that are on the chopping block—6-day delivery, half the distribution network, half the retail network, half the workforce—represent USPS's greatest assets. So why proceed when the financial savings are so small and the resulting loss so devastating? The only conceivable answer is that the intent is not to save money or alleviate the USPS's financial difficulties, but to serve the interests of the vultures ready to devour this national treasure.
The planned devastation of the USPS is based not on need but on greed. The claim of financial emergency is a pretext to break the USPS up and feed the choice bits to the private mailing industry.
The postmaster general says he expects to close 16,000 post offices in six years—that's half of the nation's post offices! And he plans to close or consolidate as many as 313 of the 487 processing plants by 2013—destroying first-class service while estimating the destruction would "save" costs equal to only 4 percent of USPS's budget. When this happens—and USPS management is proceeding fast, in violation of federal law—there will be no more 44-cent postage. Only FedEx rates. There will be no more service to rural, remote, and distressed areas. Newspaper and magazine delivery will be eliminated.
The Internet could be the biggest source of new business imaginable. Customers could e-mail documents to the USPS, which would then print and deliver them from the destination post office. This would be a hugely popular service: next-day delivery anywhere in the country, of anything you can send to a printer. Fast, cheap, and hard copy. All it would require is leadership interested in providing a service to the public.
But what we have now is leadership more interested in providing profit to private moneyed interests than in serving the American people. That is the end result of setting up a public service to function "more like a business," as was done in changing the U.S. Post Office Department to the US Postal Service in 1970-71.
The United States Postal Service is a national treasure that needs to be saved from the formidable forces arrayed against it. And those forces are not only in Congress, but in the USPS itself. Those who seek to save the USPS will not succeed unless they recognize the threat within, and they must do so very quickly or it will be too late.



  1. The town hall meeting to discuss the closing of the Bluffton post office is scheduled for Tue Oct 25 from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm at the Fourche Valley Community Center

    18148 Highway 28
    Briggsville, AR 72828

  2. The town hall meeting to discuss the closing of the Gravelly post office will be held Wed Sept 28 at 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm at the Gravelly Masonic lodge/Community center on Blue Ball road in Gravelly.

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