While Reading residents are happy the U.S. Postal Service plans to re-establish a post office in the community, they also are concerned about the permanency of that plan.
Reading, a town of 231 in Lyon County, lost its post office in May 2011 when an EF-3 tornado barreled through the town, killing one person and demolishing 54 of the town’s 101 homes, nearly all of its businesses and the post office.
Since then, residents have driven to Lebo — a round-trip of 27 miles — to buy stamps, send letters and pick up mail, or they have installed mail boxes to receive mail via a rural carrier based in Lebo.
Bill Paige, president of the Reading City Council, said USPS is seeking a 700-square-foot building for use as a retail post office, where stamps and flat-rate boxes would be sold and mail sent and retrieved.
“Everyone in our community was glad to hear we will get a post office back, but there is concern about whether we will get a local postal carrier and concern over the longevity of the retail store in our community,” Paige said. “In the future, if it’s seen as unprofitable, they might change their mind and not keep it open.”
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., announced on May 21 that USPS was looking for a building to accommodate the new Reading post office. Two days later, a USPS official conducted a community meeting in Reading to provide information about the plan and seek input from residents.
“While concerns about a local postal carrier are relevant, this announcement is still a positive development for the Reading community because it shows that USPS is committed to restoring some normalcy,” said Katie Niederee, Moran’s press secretary.
“Even with carriers routed out of Lebo, Reading will finally have a facility they can call their own and better accommodate their community’s needs. After three years without even a drop box for postal mail, this is certainly a step in the right direction.”
Paige said funding for the new post office has been approved by USPS, and the selection of a site will move forward after the expiration of a 30-day waiting period, during which USPS will take comments about the plan.
He said two existing buildings in Reading are potential sites: the old city hall building in downtown Reading that was vacated when city offices moved into a new community building and an insulated metal building off K-170 highway.
In April 2012, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of the 21st Century Postal Reform Act, which would have protected critical USPS services by considering alternatives before closing any post office. Moran and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., voted in favor of the postal reform act.
However, according to Niederee, the U.S. House didn’t bring the act to a vote, and consequently postal reform never made it to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.