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Grimes community hub on list of possible U.S. Postal Service closures
When the U.S. Postal Service announced this week that it will look at approximately 3,700 post offices across the country for possible closure, the community of Grimes was soon abuzz with the news.
The town's rural post office - open since 1883 — is on a list of 112 California offices under review to determine if their physical locations should stay in operation.
"Closing the post office is the stupidest thing I've ever heard," said resident Rose Ann Ellis. "We're out here in the middle of nowhere. How are we supposed to get our mail?"
The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service, which lost $8 billion last year, made the announcement Tuesday that shutting doors and eliminating Saturday delivery may be the only ways to keep the agency from going under.
The service, which does not receive tax funds for its operations, has already cut its staff by about 130,000 and reduced costs by $12 billion over the past four years in an effort to cope with the decline in revenue.
About half of all bill payments are made over the Internet - up from 5 percent a decade ago - and e-mail has virtually all but replaced snail-mail.
Still, the thought of another loss in the small community of Grimes — which over the years has lost its only gas station and restaurant — is a bitter pill to swallow.
"It's not just a post office, it's kind of like a community center," said Art Olivares, who operates a welding shop in Grimes. "It is where a lot of people get their information. If you want to know why the sirens went off, you just go to the post office."
Behind the desk of the Grimes Post Office on Thursday, clerk Becky Goodman said the post office is where many people stop to chat, as they go about their business of picking up mail, sending packaging to loved ones and buying stamps and supplies.
"If the post office closes, it would be sad for the whole town," Goodman said.
Goodman said it's too soon to worry about the possibility of losing her job, something she doesn't want to contemplate at the moment.
After all, coming under review doesn't necessarily mean a post office will close. The agency has been reviewing offices since January, and so far, has closed less than half of those targeted.
"It's no secret that the Postal Service is looking to change the way we do a lot of things," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said. "We do feel that we are still relevant to the American public and the economy, but we have to make some tough choices."
Still, the loss of Goodman's job, that of Branch Manager Marolyn Williams, who is away this week on vacation, and the cleaning staff is significant in a small community like Grimes.
"My wife was a postal clerk at that post office for 25 years," Olivares said. "I know she wouldn't have liked it if it was her job that was lost. It's a terrible blow."
And most don't understand how the service stands to save money by closing the office down.
"It seems to me that they would just be trading one expense for another," Ellis said. "They would have to get us our mail, the same as they do in Knights Landing, where it is delivered directly to them."
Unless, of course, the service makes residents go to either Colusa or Arbuckle to pick up their mail.
"Either way, it's a 30-mile round trip," Goodman said. "That is going to be tough on a lot of people."
Residents believe the biggest impact will be on shut-ins, farmers and businesses.
In addition to two large warehouses, Grimes is home to a number of small businesses and Reclamation District No. 108.
"For those of us who go to Colusa several times a week, the impact might be minimal," Olivares said. "But not everyone can do that."
Whatever the U.S. Postal Service decides, Grimes residents don't plan to take the possibility of closure lightly.
Those served by the office have 60 days to file their comments. If the office is to be closed, they will be able to appeal to the independent Postal Regulatory Commission.
Meanwhile, Grimes Civic Association is mounting opposition to the closure.
Organizers have called for a meeting Tuesday night at the Scout Cabin.
They even placed a notice where everyone is sure to see it — on the community bulletin board inside the post office, alongside notices for puppies for sale and jobs wanted.
"The post office, after all, is where most people get their information," said Olivares, Civic Association president.
Contact Susan Meeker at 458-2121 or smeeker@ tcnpress.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.