Courtland post office may be closing

Published 8:49 am Friday, February 4, 2011

Bob Dickens of Courtland walks into the post office there on Wednesday. Residents have started a petition to keep the Courtland post office open after hearing rumors that it could be one of 2,000 across the nation to close. -- Stephen Cowles | Tidewater News



COURTLAND—Courtland-area resident Joyce Plyler spent Wednesday calling her congressmen.

Rumors that the post office in Courtland could be closing prompted those calls to U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and U.S. Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner, both D-Va.

While Plyler waits for responses, she and others have started a petition drive in hopes of preventing the post office’s possible closing. Residents can sign the petition at Duck Thru on Main Street, formerly Bill’s Hometown Grill.

Plyler said she heard the rumor from her mail carrier.

“She’s concerned. I had a conversation with her,” Plyler said. “Also, my daughter-in-law works for the county, and it’s been going around the county administration office too.”

Southampton County Administrator Mike Johnson said he hadn’t heard anything until Wednesday.

“It came from our county treasurer,” Johnson said.

Fran Sanfone, communications coordinator for the Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore post offices, said she has heard nothing about the Courtland branch closing.

In January, the postmaster general announced that 2,000 post offices would be closed or services reduced or consolidated with larger facilities. But the list has not been released. The end of March might be the soonest for any announcement.

“I don’t see that happening,” said Sanfone about closing the Courtland post office. “It behooves us to deal with satellite offices because of the fact that there’s no delivery out of the satellite office.”

“Rural carriers are like a post office on wheels,” she continued.

Unlike city postal carriers, they can sell stamps and mail packages.

She said she understood that it can be “agonizing for customers” worried about their local post office.

Rick Francis, clerk of the Circuit Court for Southampton County and Franklin, said he called Forbes’ office after hearing the rumor.

“I spoke with (senior district representative) Rick Franklin to see if there is something upstream proposing that,” Francis said.

He said the closing would be “traumatic to this office.”

“We have to send mail with confirmations, and running to Franklin to pick up the daily mail would take another half-hour out of somebody’s day,” he said. “I cannot imagine closing the post office in the county seat.”

Courtland Vice Mayor George Kitchen Jr. said he had not heard about the possibility of the post office closing.

“That would be total news to me,” Kitchen said.

He doesn’t favor it.

“I think we need a post office in Courtland,” Kitchen said. “I think it’s vital to our community of 1,200.”

Plyler, who lives on Medicine Sprigs Road, assumes she would have to travel to Franklin for postal needs if the Courtland office closes.

“A lot of seniors live in this area,” she said. “It would be very troublesome.”

“What gets me, it seems to me it would take more gas for someone (from another post office) to deliver mail here,” Plyler added. “What’s the point? Plus it would mean jobs lost. You wouldn’t think they would close Courtland being the county seat. We have the sheriff’s department and the court system.”