Residents fight to keep Amagon post office open

AMAGON, AR (KAIT) – The United States Postal Service (USPS) faces a mounting debt that could mean sweeping closures to offices in Northeast Arkansas. The post office in Amagon is one of 200 under review in the state. The USPS announced in July that its Amagon branch could close, along with four others in Jackson County. Several residents are fighting to keep their office open, but they say it might be a lost cause.

"Here we go again, losing another one. It's terrible," Sue Baty said.

Baty recalls when the USPS closed its branch in Balch, Ark., where she currently lives.

"They promised us we wouldn't lose our zip code. We wouldn't lose anything," she said. "Well, we did. We lost all of our identity."

Baty now travels about 12 miles to the closest post office in Amagon, but she may soon drive even further to buy a stamp or send a letter. The USPS announced five of the nine post offices in Jackson County are under consideration to close, including Amagon.

"It sounds like they're picking on Jackson County," said Linda Roberson, an Amagon resident. "I know this is a poor area, but we need it just as bad as anybody."

Roberson and her friends have actively sought to keep the Amagon post office open. They attended a town hall meeting about the issue in September. They also wrote letters and got responses from the Arkansas delegation. Congressman Rick Crawford, though, has vowed to protect rural post offices. He has introduced a bill that would prevent closing any post office that does not have an alternative post office within eight miles.

"Well, we'll have to go to Newport, or wherever the closest one is," Roberson said if the Amagon branch closes. "I suppose we'll have to do what we have to do."

Baty says the lawmakers appear to be on her community's side, but she dealt with loss years ago. She says many already feel out of the fight.

"I've got a feeling it is (going to close). They're saying it won't. But it happened once, and it'll happen again," she added.

A public meeting was held Tuesday evening at the First Baptist Church on Main Street in Jonesboro. The community was asked to discuss a proposal to move some mail processing operations to Memphis.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.