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Worth fighting for

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Bradfordsville hopes to hold onto post office

By Stevie Lowery

When the people of Bradfordsville learned that the post office was one of thousands across the country being considered for closure, they decided they weren't going to let it go without a fight.

Mayor David Edelen said city residents were encouraged to write three letters a week in August and September to express their support, and Saturday, the community gathered for a parade and a rally at the city park. Edelen estimated that close to 100 people participated in the parade.

"I think it was the biggest parade we've ever had," he said, including the Old Mill Days parades and the annual Christmas parade.

Edelen said a unified effort is the best hope for saving the Bradfordsville branch from closure.

"If we're sticking together and working together, that's the strongest case we can put up," he said.

Edelen wants that unity to be on display again at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, at the old Bradfordsville School. United States Postal Service officials are scheduled to visit Bradfordsville that day.

"I'm hoping somewhere around 200 or so will show up for that," Edelen said.

The city also received some support from local officials. Marion County Judge/Executive John G. Mattingly, State Sen. Jimmy Higdon and State Rep. Terry Mills participated in the parade Saturday and spoke at the park afterwards.

In an interview, Mattingly said most people in the city have a post office box, which means daily visits to the post office are common for the city's residents. He said the post office also helps give the city part of its identity.

"Most people recognize the zip code, and I guess if they close the post office, they wouldn't have a zip code for Bradfordsville," Mattingly said.

He added that the decisions about the postal service closure will be made much higher than the state or local levels, and he said he has written federal officials to express his support for the city's efforts.

Mills said he has received numerous letters and phone calls about the post office.

"Bradfordsville folks are putting so much energy into it, I want to support 'em and do anything we can," Mills said.

He noted that the news about the postal service doesn't look good, but he believes Bradfordsville has a better chance of keeping its branch if they keep being proactive.

"To me, closing that post office would be closing off part of our past," Mills said. "Those folks out there, they've been walking to that post office every day and getting their mail and meeting with their neighbors."

Higdon said he first got involved with the Bradfordsville Post Office about a year ago. The owner of the building leased by the postal service had been notified that the lease would not be renewed. Higdon said he contacted Congressman Brett Guthrie's office, and they were able to resolve that issue.

He said the fire department could be considered the backbone of the Bradfordsville community, but the post office is the city's lifeline. In many ways, it's the city's communications center.

"We all hear what dire straits the post office is in, and they're going to close a bunch of post offices," Higdon said. "But if anybody can keep one open, it's Bradfordsville."

Edelen also noted the post office's historic significance. The branch opened March 10, 1834, which means it is older than the incorporated city itself.

"We were the second oldest rural, free delivery in the state," he said. "It's got a lot of history and a lot of legacy as far as the identity of the town."

He added that the local postal employees often go above and beyond their job descriptions to help their customers.

Across the country, the postal service is considering closing more than 3,600 branches. In Kentucky, the USPS had identified 130 branches to study for closure as part of its "retail optimization efforts."

Edelen said if the local branch has to close, then he hopes they are at least able to establish a Village Post Office.

Village Post Offices are housed within a local business, such as a pharmacy or grocery stores, and they are operated by that business rather than by the postal service, according to David Walton, a spokesperson for the Kentuckiana district of the postal service. This type of post office could sell stamps, offer flat-rate packaging and have P.O. boxes.

However, the people of Bradfordsville are not about to give up their efforts to keep their local branch open.

"Anything worth having is worth fighting for," Edelen said.

St. Francis Post Office is closing

While the citizens of Bradfordsville continue to fight to keep their post office open, the St. Francis Post Office will be closing.

Officially, its last day will be Oct. 15, according to Walton.

The St. Francis branch was "emergency suspended" on July 7. At that time, PO Box service for St. Francis was moved to the Loretto Post Office.

According to Walton, the St. Francis service will remain at the Loretto branch after the branch closes officially.

Postal officials announced earlier this year that they were looking into closing the St. Francis branch. This was before the postal services announced its plan to consider closing 3,600 branches across the country.

The emergency suspension of the St. Francis branch was unrelated to the closure study. When the suspension took effect, Walton said the officer in charge of St. Francis branch was no longer working there and that the postal service had not been able to find a qualified applicant to replace her.

Lynn Hall was the officer in charge prior to the suspension.