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Star Tannery residents still have 60 days to voice opinion before final decision made
By Preston Knight - email@example.com
STAR TANNERY -- The U.S. Postal Service has displayed an official notice at the local post office of its plan to close the facility, giving residents 60 days to comment before a final recommendation is made.
The April 19 notice is part of the process when a facility is targeted for closure and is not an indication that a decision has been made, said Dennis Voorhees, the manager of post office operations for the Northern Virginia District. Officials delayed posting the notice after a March 9 public meeting -- the action normally happens within 30 days -- because officials were considering the comments they heard that night, he said.
The district elected to continue with the plan to close, though, and the time period to provide additional comments runs through June 20. The Postal Service is considering closing the facility because of a lack of business and a vacancy in the postmaster position since 2009. Services would be shifted to Strasburg.
Voorhees said Star Tannery's revenue has decreased significantly in the last three years.
"It's just not getting the use," Voorhees said.
The March public meeting was partly a public scolding for postal officials, including Voorhees. Those who spoke were adamant about maintaining their local facility, stating that an 11-mile trip to Strasburg is unreasonable.
"And with the price of fuel, it's just going to kill everybody," resident Gregg Kenyon said Monday.
He spoke along with his wife, Teresa, at the public meeting. They run an online business and travel to the post office several times a week.
Voorhees said he sympathized with residents, adding that if he lived there, he would likely appeal a decision to close the post office, too.
Residents will have 30 days to appeal if the district, followed by the Postal Regulatory Commission, chooses to cease operations.
"They kind of feel their way of life disappears if their post office disappears," Voorhees said.
Gregg Kenyon said everybody would be happy if the Postal Service would just elect to shorten hours at Star Tannery.
"There's a lot of people back here who use it a lot," he said. "A lot of elderly people use it. It's really an effort for them to get to Star Tannery. Zepp to Strasburg, that's an awful ride [for some people]."
Comments should be sent to Voorhees at 8409 Lee Highway, Merrifield, VA 22081, and forms are available in Star Tannery and Strasburg. After the 60 days, the district will make a recommendation to the commission for final vote. If the decision is to close Star Tannery, another posting will be put up, and residents will have 30 days to appeal.
If nobody appeals at that point, Voorhees said it would still take an additional 60 days before closing occurred.
"It's a drawn-out process," he said.