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Fishers Hill residents: Save the post office

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The Fishers Hill post office is inside Ritenour's Grocery on Battlefield Road. The post office is on the potential closure list as the U.S. Postal Service looks to cut facilities to save money. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Charles Copeland gets mail from his post office box at the Fishers Hill Post Office on Thursday. The office is on the potential closure list as the U.S. Postal Service struggles to make cuts. Rich Cooley/Daily

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A drop box stands in front of Ritenour's Grocery off Battlefield Road, where the Fishers Hill post office is located. The facility is on the potential closure list as the U.S. Postal Service cuts the number of postal facilities to save money. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Kaitlin Mayhew -- kmayhew@nvdaily.com

FISHERS HILL -- The Fishers Hill Post Office at 2753 Battlefield Road could fall victim to the nationwide post office closings, but local residents hope to save the facility.

A group of about 45 held a community meeting at the post office last week to discuss how to proceed.

The initial proposal to close the post office was posted on Nov. 4, giving residents 60 days to ask questions or voice their concerns before a decision is made.

Dennis Voorhees, manager of post office operations for Virginia, said that the Fishers Hill location came under scrutiny because of declining revenue.

The proposal puts revenue at Fishers Hill at $16,235 in 2007, but just $15,441 in 2010.
If the post office closes, residents who now pick up their mail at Fishers Hill may have mailboxes installed at their homes for delivery or travel to the Strasburg post office.

Voorhees said that many of the concerns at the Dec. 6 meeting had to do with the postmaster, Ray R. Ritenour Jr., who has been in the position since 1990, and what would happen to him if the office closes.

"When you get into small communities they are very close knit and they are very concerned about everybody, which is great," Voorhees said.

He said that the U.S. Postal Service will try to find Ritenour another position within a 50-mile radius.

So far, the Postal Service has not had to lay off any postmasters because of closures.
"There has been [enough open positions] so far," he said. "It may get to some point where there won't be, but we haven't reached that point yet."

According to Voorhees, the decision regarding the fate of the Fishers Hill location will be made on Jan. 5 by the postal regulatory commission in Washington.

After that, residents have 30 days to file an appeal, or the office will be closed.

"With no appeal the office could be closed within 60 days," he said. "If someone appeals it, it could add 120 days to the process."

Few appeals were made in the past, but with all the plans for future closings that may change, Voorhees said.

Kenneth Lyon, a Fishers Hill resident who attended the community meeting, said that if the agency decides to close the post office, he hopes the community will appeal.

"If I have anything to do with it we will," he said. "I think there's a lot of good reasons to appeal."

Lyon has lived in Fishers Hill since the mid-1980s, and owned property there since the 1950s.

The post office, which is in the same building as Ritenour's Grocery Store, is in many ways the heart of the Fishers Hill community, he said.

"I do think the postmaster and his family are like the very core of the community." he said. "It's a wonderful community, and I just think taking the post office out would cut the core out of something that is just excitingly different than most communities."

Lyon described Fishers Hill as an "unspoiled" community where people still value seeing each other face to face.

"We look forward to picking up our mail every day. It's a wonderful place to go and visit your neighbors," he said. "Without seeing your neighbors you don't know who needs help or why or what's going on."

He is also not enthusiastic about either of the alternative options offered by the Postal Service.

"I realize it's only a few miles away but nobody wants to have to go to Strasburg for their mail. You'll have to go into town and look for a parking space," he said.

Lyons also said he doesn't want a mailbox on his rural property.

He also believes that if the post office portion of the shop closes, the grocery store may not be far behind.

"I can't speak for them, but I think they would tell you that they are not doing so wonderfully well as it stands, and without the number of people coming into the post office to pick up mail I think they would find that their business would drop off even more," Lyons said. "I don't think the business could survive very long without the post office being there."

1 Comment

For those interested in this article, here are some corrections to this story provided to me by Ray F. Ritenour Jr. (Doc).

1) Middle initial is F not R.

2)Meeting was at Emmanual Church in Fishers Hill not at the post office( 45 people in Ritenour's grocery would have been a little tight).

3)2010 revenue number was wrong in the paper but is correct here online. The daily is aware and should correct that on Wednesday.

Also, revenue for 2011 was $16002, more than the previous year.

Oddly enough, the reason Mr. Ritenour did not grant an interview was of concern his words would be written incorrect or in a way they could be misconstrued. That had happened before and caused the Ritenour family hardships( angry phone calls). That though was the Washington Post reporting!

One more. If you do enjoy the store/post office it looks like they will be open until at least May 2012 now according to the USPS news release today.

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