Petitions starting to keep post offices in Dimock, Olivet openDIMOCK — As residents of 80 towns in South Dakota grapple with the idea that their post offices may close, some townspeople are working to keep their post office open.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
DIMOCK — As residents of 80 towns in South Dakota grapple with the idea that their post offices may close, some townspeople are working to keep their post office open.
The people of the Dimock and Olivet areas have circulated nonbinding petitions in support of keeping the post offices open. More than 140 people signed the petition for Dimock, population 151, and about 50 have signed for Olivet, population 14.
The U.S. Postal Service announced at the end of July it will study whether to close 80 post offices throughout the state. The USPS will study more than 3,700 locations throughout the country.
Anna Mae Hofer, co-owner of Hofer’s Lounge and Steakhouse in Dimock, conducts business at the post office often. She started circulating the petition a few weeks ago.
“Some people asked me to do it, so I did,” she said.
Her business is right next to the post office, so she does all her postal business there, such as buying stamps and other materials, and mailing certified letters.
“Otherwise, we’ll have to go to Mitchell or Parkston,” she said. Parkston is about six miles away, and Mitchell is about 15 miles away.
Anyone of any age or from any town could sign the petition, Hofer said. It’s in the interest of continued operation of the Dimock post office.
“It would be a hardship,” Hofer said of losing the post office.
Hofer said she’ll now hand it over to state Rep. Frank Kloucek, DScotland, who will then send it on to Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., and Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., who will pass it on to the U.S. Postal Service, Kloucek said. He said post offices are vital in small communities, and the petition is a show of support to keep the post office in Dimock.
As the county seat of Hutchinson County, Olivet would suffer if its post office were to close, Kloucek said.
“It would have a huge impact on sending registered mail, all the legal documents that they need to mail in a timely fashion,” he said.
“It’s going to be a timing thing. It will affect the quality of the postal service.”
Hutchinson County Sheriff Jim Zeeb said he got a blank copy of the Dimock petition and “redid it to fit Olivet.”
If the Olivet post office were to close, “It would affect the courthouse in a big way,” Zeeb said. “A lot of mail goes out of the courthouse that needs to be certified or registered. You can’t just drop that in the mailbox.”
If the office closes, someone would have to drive to a nearby post office, likely in Menno, five miles away, to drop it off.
When the Olivet petition is complete, Kloucek will also deliver it to Thune, Noem and Johnson.
Currently, the USPS in the Dakotas District is gathering data, said Karen Fredrickson, the Sioux Falls-based marketing manager for the Dakotas District, which covers North and South Dakota, Montana and northwest Minnesota. The data gathering includes identifying how close a proposed closure is to another post office, if there are other businesses that use the post office, the volume of mail that goes through and expenses at the office.
“Once they’ve gathered all the financial figures, etcetera, then we’ll go and schedule the community meetings,” she said.
The community meetings will also be used to gather information from residents, including a survey they can fill out.
Fredrickson said most public meetings will take place by the end of August or beginning of September. The manager of post office operations for the area will conduct the meetings with an assistant to take “copious notes, because it’s all a part of the official record,” Fredrickson said.
The Dakota District should take 138 days to decide which post offices close after the data is gathered, she added.
“We’re holding community meetings through this fall because there are 260 offices in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and northwest Minnesota,” she said. “We’re taking our time and doing it properly.”