PLOVER - Communities large and small have gathered in the past weeks to hear unpopular news: the potential closing of a post office.
Concerns range from losing jobs to losing a part of the town.
"I just know it's kind of the heartbeat of the community," said Pam Norman, who was filling in at the Ottosen post office Friday. "Everybody comes in and gets their information about whatever's happening in the town. It's the heartbeat of the town. They're crushed they might lose it."
As meetings continue this month, people also continue to hope there is a way to save their town's post office.
Yet they fear their efforts will be futile.
Darla Johnson, of Plover, is organizing to keep her town's post office. Her father was postmaster in Plover for 20 years, throughout her childhood, she said.
Meetings in the area:
Lu Verne: Thursday at 6 p.m.
Plover: Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Plover Methodist Church
"So it's almost like home," Johnson said. "I'm upset about that, but there again, there's probably nothing I can do."
She's in the process of writing letters and getting signatures to send to federal legislators as well as the Postal Service, she said. They are proactive measures, because she does not know for certain the Plover post office will be closed.
"The community right now is feeling a little bit overwhelmed because we don't have any answers," Johnson said. "We're not very happy about the whole situation. Other than that, we're trying to stay somewhat calm and collected."
At 63, Plover's population is part of the problem. Like other community offices that the U.S. Postal Service is considering closing, it doesn't have a postmaster.
That is one of many factors the Postal Service takes into consideration as it debates which post offices it will close.
Johnson said she believes a meeting - set for June 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the Plover Methodist Church - is only for the sake of appearance.
But Richard Watkins, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said meetings do serve a purpose.
He gave as an example a meeting held about the viability at the Sioux City mail processing center in 2006. The USPS eventually decided to keep the center open.
The Postal Service is hemorrhaging $23 million a day, Watkins said. Also, mail volume has declined since 2006.
"That's a heck of a financial burden to confront every morning you unlock the front door of your business," Watkins said. "So what do we do? We look at all the operations."
There are 32,000 post office buildings across the U.S., 75 percent of which are leased. Watkins said there are some offices that may only have two transactions a day. Of those, 85 percent are likely to be stamp purchases.
The Postal Service's partnership with convenience stores and grocery stores, as well as other businesses, to sell stamps has impacted those sales. Also, the USPS offers electronic stamp orders online and via Smartphone applications. Watkins said those sales are accounting for 35 percent of postal revenue.
"What we're doing now is simply responding to what customers tell us with their dollars," Watkins said. "People are not only mailing fewer cards and letters, but they're paying far fewer visits to their post office."
While some post offices may close in the near future, Watkins said the Postal Service will not disappear.
"We're not going anywhere," Watkins said.
When asked why the Postal Service isn't viable like services such as FedEx or United Parcel Service, Watkins said there were two significant differences. One, UPS and FedEx don't deliver to every address six days a week. Two, private companies can focus their efforts on areas that are most profitable.
"They are two very fine companies, and we are proud to partner with them," Watkins said. "Postal Service focuses its efforts on universal mail service for everyone in the U.S., regardless of where they live."
While the Postal Service tries to find a new business that will serve customers effectively and break even in the digital age, communities may have to adjust to another change in their familiar landscape.
"I think a lot of us at this point are wondering if eventually they'll have one post office in every county," Darla Johnson from Plover said. "Kind of like they've done with some of the schools. We just wonder, how fair are these changes to us rural people?"
Contact Lindsey Mutchler at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org