‘If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It': Vt. Town Fears Post Office Closure

Elmore residents worry their rural post office, which is located inside a landmark store, could close

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A small Vermont town is rallying to save its post office, which has an uncertain future. 

The Elmore Store, serving the town of fewer than 1,000, has a post office in the back which is run under a contract with the United States Postal Service — for zip code 05657.

However, that agreement is up for renewal, and residents say they were stunned to learn the post office part of the store and its rentable P.O. boxes could actually close for good next month.

"It would mean I’d have to drive an extra eight miles," lamented Randi Barrett, who was both picking up eggs and dropping a piece of mail at the post office Tuesday. "This store is really about community."

Barrett said her postal business would instead have to be done in Morrisville if the post office in The Elmore Store were to become inactive.

Residents came out in brutal cold Tuesday for a rally to show support for keeping Elmore’s post office open.

A petition drive, which has gained traction through Facebook, is also underway.

"That’s not right and it’s not going to happen," Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, said at the gathering of the potential closure of the Lake Elmore Post Office.

Welch and representatives from the offices of Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, told the crowd the Congressional delegation is asking the USPS to ink a new deal with storekeepers Kate Gluckman and Mike Stanley.

"We won’t stop fighting until we have a contract in hand," Gluckman vowed.

"I’m a big believer that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it," Stanley added. "And this ain’t broke."

Free home delivery of mail would be available, community leaders acknowledged. However, several residents of Elmore said Tuesday they either want or need to keep their P.O. box located in the store.

Rural properties can sit so far from the road, homeowners may not want packages left sitting out, they explained. Plus, right now, it would be pretty tough to install a home mailbox with the ground frozen and snow-covered.

The real reason to keep the Lake Elmore Post Office location intact, attendees at the rally said, is because the store and post office are gathering points. Stopping in means seeing a friendly face.

"What it’s really been about is about us recognizing the institutions in the community that bind us together and make us a community," said Trevor Braun of the Elmore Community Trust, which led a community-wide financing drive to maintain the store as an asset for residents. "And doing whatever it takes to protect those institutions."

In response to an inquiry from NECN Tuesday, the United States Postal Service released the following statement:

"The Elmore Post Office is a Contract Postal Unit (CPU). The business that runs this unit has recently been sold and the Postal Service is in the process of negotiating a contract with the new owner. If there is any change to service there, Post Office Box customers will be given advance notice."

Even the town’s elementary schoolers are calling on the USPS to keep the status quo. Students from the Elmore School walked across the street to flank Rep. Welch at Tuesday’s rally — earning his praise for participating in a matter important to their town.

"This store means a lot to my family, and we get our mail here every day," said third grader Penelope Dimotta, who said she wants to see the post office remain open inside the store.

Since we’ve all felt pretty disconnected during the pandemic, Braun said now, especially, Elmore sees neighborly interactions as truly special deliveries worth maintaining.

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