Port Royal facility is home for entire community
In the tiny town of Port Royal, the post office is more than a place where people pick up and send out their mail.
“Everybody in this town pretty much relies on the post office. It’s like a center for everything. Everybody meets here,” said Chris Hawkins, Port Royal’s postmaster for the past 11 years.
The Port Royal Post Office will be one of about 34 in the region that could see its hours reduced or possibly closed as part of a nationwide process to cut costs.
A public meeting is planned in Port Royal for 2 p.m. on July 8 at the post office to discuss possible changes.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service did not say when meetings would be held to discuss the future of the other post offices from the Fredericksburg area on the list. She also did not say whether any of those locations had already reduced operating hours.
Port Royal residents were notified via first-class mail and sent a survey asking them to select one of four options:
Keep the post office open but reduce hours from eight a day to six. Saturday hours would stay the same
Close the office and offer roadside mailbox delivery
Close the office and find an alternative location operated by a local business
Close the post office and provide P.O. Box service at another nearby post office.
In late August 2012, all of the U.S. Postal Service’s 67 districts began the two-year process of notifying affected communities.
The postal service spokeswoman described the plan as a way to preserve rural post offices by “modifying retail hours to match customer use.”
At the Port Royal Post Office, residents have individual boxes to pick up their mail because it isn’t delivered to their homes.
That’s one reason it’s used more as a gathering place than just a post office.
“You go in, you don’t just get your mail. You see your neighbors, we post notices for clubs, governmental notices, jobs, babysitters, yard sales, etc.,” said Port Royal Mayor Nancy Long.
“Because everyone goes there to pick up their mail, that’s a perfect place to put all this information.”
The post office in Port Royal, though it’s changed physical locations a few times, is one of the oldest continuously operating post offices in the country.
According to postmaster Hawkins, the office opened in 1766. It was closed, however, during the Civil War.
“Port Royal has had a post office throughout its history,” Mayor Long said.
OTHER POST OFFICES POSSIBLY AFFECTED:
Barboursville, Boston, Brandy Station, Broad Run, Burr Hill, Calverton, Caret, Casanova, Center Cross, Champlain, Corbin, Delaplane, Dogue, Elkwood, Hague, Jeffersonton, Jersey, Lignum, Milford, Mitchells, Montpelier Station, Mount Holly, Ninde, Oldhams, Rapidan, Rappahannock Academy, Reva, Rhoadesville, Ruby, Sealston, Sparta, Stevensburg, and Sumerduck.