List expands to 117 proposed post office closures in MNby Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — An expanded list proposes closing 117 U.S. post offices in Minnesota.
That's more than 10 percent of Minnesota's retail postal facilities, leaving some people in the affected communities unhappy.
The cuts come as part of a massive effort to keep the postal service in business. Postal Service officials said they expect to run out of money to operate later this year unless costs are cut.
In the northwestern Minnesota community of Hendrum, Mayor Curt Johannsen is surprised to learn his town of 307 people may lose its post office.
"Well, right away I'm sort of shocked," he said.
Hendrum is located in Minnesota's Red River Valley on U. S. Highway 75, along with four neighboring towns — Georgetown, Perley, Shelly and Nielsville — where the Postal Service also proposes closing offices.
Losing a post office risks the loss of other storefronts, Johannsen said.
"We're working hard to keep our small town alive, and you struggle to keep businesses in a small town," he said. "And if you lose your post office, that's like losing a bank."
Earlier this year, Minneapolis-based Postal Service spokesman Pete Nowacki, said officials announced 29 Minnesota postal facilities would be included among the 1,400 closings around the country.
The list released this week includes an additional 3,700 hundred closures nationwide, adding another 88 Minnesota facilities to be closed, Nowacki said.
Besides the 117 total in Minnesota, another 80 closures are proposed in South Dakota, 76 in North Dakota and 41 in Wisconsin.
The trims include job cuts around the country, Nowacki said.
"We just went through a nationwide management restructuring where we eliminated 4,500 jobs," he said.
At one point, the Postal Service proposed eliminating Saturday delivery to cut costs.
Most of the proposed locations are in small or very small communities.
Vining, population 67, in west central Minnesota is nestled between Henning and Battle Lake.
There's little else in town besides the gas station and the post office, said Vining city council woman Marla Evavold.
"It is the community," she said.
Residents in other communities — Wanda, Clontarf, Mizpah, Calumet — also expressed surprise and dismay when learning their post office may be closed.
Sometimes political pressure reverses a closure, Nowacki said, and in any case, the closings won't happen overnight.
"We're going to be looking at this over the next several months. I'd be surprised to see anything happen before November, December."
- All Things Considered, 07/26/2011, 5:26 p.m.