Need Letters to Stop Avilla, MO Post Office Closure

October 14, 2011

A request from Tonya Pike:

“Before I even begin this, I apologize for the extreme length of this post. But after you read this, I think you will understand why it is so long. A Route 66 business and community has come forward asking for our help.

As many of you are aware, the United States Postal Service is in financial trouble. They are presently targeting postal facilities all over the USA for closure.

A couple of weeks ago, a meeting was held at Avilla, Missouri to discuss the closing of their post office. For any one who has traveled Route 66, the post office at Avilla is one of the most visible on Route 66 in Missouri. It is in a red brick building, highly visible and roughly a half-block north/east of 66, just west of Bernie’s Bar & Café at Avilla, which fronts out on Route 66, aka Hwy 96, in Avilla. The building itself is was originally a bank, built in 1915. It was leased to the USPS in 1952 and has served as the Avilla Post Office ever since.

The owner of the post office building, Nancy Young, has asked for assistance from the Route 66 roadies and the Route 66 Association of Missouri to stop the closure of the Avilla Post Office. Hence, my father and I journeyed to Avilla to sit in on this particular post office closing meeting. The meeting was held at a church in Avilla and was attended by over half of the Avilla’s population of 125.

The first half of the meeting was presided over by a representative of the USPS, whose name I unfortunately did not get. It was basically a question and answer period. Numerous objections were raised. The main ones included:

1) Home delivery precludes assistance with many post office services,
particularly if you are unable or unwilling to do USPS business online.

2) Due to a lack of other businesses in Avilla, it is very unlikely that a “village post office” can be set up in another business in Avilla, meaning anyone who has to go in to a post office to conduct business will have to travel to Reeds or Carthage, Missouri to do so. Not everyone present at the meeting felt that they could travel to one of those places during the hours the post offices in those locations were open to conduct their postal business. It was also pointed out that only a very small number of the services currently performed at a regular post office can be done at a “village post office” even if one could be set up.

3) If the post office is closed, the people of Avilla will have to sit home all day and wait on their postman in order to complete most postal services from home, such as purchasing money orders or signing & receiving certified mail.

4) Loss of the post office will be a major blow to the economy of Avilla, as there are only 4 businesses left in the town proper itself and that is including the post office.

5) This post office is frequently a stop for foreign visitors traveling Route 66. And note here, this was initially voiced by Avilla residents, not my father or myself, although we did voice remarks supporting this claim. The day of the meeting alone, the Avilla Post Office had customers from Germany and Russia who were Route 66 travelers, mailing postcards back home.

The last reason gave the USPS representative a bit of uncomfort. She honestly did not know how to respond to the statement that closing the Avilla Post Office will deprive foreign visitors of a very special Americana experience.

After the USPS representative finished her question and answer period with the citizens of Avilla and left to go to another post office closing meeting, Steven Vanderhoof, president of the retiree’s Missouri Chapter of the National Postmasters of the United States, addressed the group. He quickly explained that this proposed closure of post offices across the USA is essentially a tactic to get citizens riled up so that the USPS can ask Congress to allow them to cut postal service back to 5 days a week. And, along the way, if the USPS can close any post offices in areas where there are not citizens who care about their post office, so much the better. He also pointed out that if the USPS were to close 10,000 of the 36,000 US post offices, it would save the USPS less than 1% of it’s yearly budget!!

Mr. Vanderhoof went on to say, that in all the communities where he’d attended meetings about closing post offices, the meeting at Avilla was the first time he’d heard Route 66 travelers given as a reason that a post office should NOT be closed. He stated that this was a unique qualification that needed to be capitalized on. He also told the group that in communities where the citizenship protested the closing of their post office, for the most part, the post offices were being left open. And this is why I am posting about this to the e-group. The City of Avilla and the Avilla Post Office needs our help.

Would everyone on the Route 66 e-group please help by writing letters? In the past, we’ve had several letter writing campaigns done from our e-group, and we need one now for the post office at Avilla.

The Post Office at Avilla needs all e-groupers to please write five letters by November 13, 2011.

Very important, the first letter needs to be addressed to:

Postmaster
205 Greenfield St.
Avilla, MO 64833

This letter is the most critical and needs to be done as soon as possible, as it will be submitted in a package on November 17 up thru postal service channels by the Avilla Postmaster. If you can’t write all five letters, if you can at least write this one, that would be a huge help. Please state very clearly that you are opposed to the closing of the Avilla Post Office because of it’s negative impact on not only the citizenship and economy of Avilla, but because it denies both domestic and foreign visitors traveling Route 66 a chance to experience America by posting mail from a historic building in sight of a Missouri state scenic by-way, which is Route 66.

If you can write only one letter, please, please, please, make it out to the Postmaster at Avilla. These letters are the only letters that the USPS will consider in making their final decision about closing the Avilla, Missouri Post Office, and they must be submitted by the Avilla Postmaster for the USPS to consider them.

Then, please send four additional letters of protest to the legislators over the Avilla area. These letters should express our displeasure that A) a post office would be removed from both such a small community where it’s economic impact will be great and where there are not facilities for other alternatives, such as a village post office, B) that a business will be removed from Route 66 that may deny travelers an American experience, and C) closing post offices isn`t going to provide the necessary financial assistance that our postal service needs anyway. The addresses for these letters are as follows:

The Honorable Claire McCaskill
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Roy Blunt
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Billy Long
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Jay Nixon
Governor’s Office
201 W. Capitol Ave.
Jefferson City, MO 65101

PLEASE NOTE THESE ADDITIONAL LETTERS NEED TO BE SENT TO THE ADDRESSES GIVEN HERE ABOVE:

While the Missouri U.S. Senators and Representative may have other addresses, we were told in the meeting at Avilla that these letters need to go to their main offices in Washington, D.C., and the Missouri state capital for the governor. So please use the addresses I’m forwarding for McCaskill, Blunt, Long and Nixon. Letters sent to other offices for these people may not get put together otherwise in a timely manner for an accurate tally of the number protests made for a particular post office by the staff members of these officials.

The purpose of sending these additional four letters is to let them know that people are not in favor of closing the post office in hopes that they will vote in the future in such a way that allows most of our post offices to stay open.

If you need help formulating a letter, please contact me and I will email you a .pdf file of the example protest letter I was given at Avilla. But I warn you, it is very generic and does not mention Route 66, so you will still need to modify it a bit.

Lastly, if there is anyone out there on the e-group who lives outside the USA who has ever stopped at the post office in Avilla and mailed anything: It would be especially impressive if you would please write a letter to the Avilla postmaster. I firmly believe, from the meeting I attended, the USPS officials expect the citizens of the USA to be outraged about the post office closings. But I don’t think they expect it to have any meaning to anyone outside the USA. Please help me and the people of Avilla show them they are wrong!

Remember everyone, these letters need to be mailed as soon as possible as the Avilla postmaster needs them by November 13, 2011. This gives us a month to get them written and mailed.

Again, I apologize for the length of this post. But I hope that everyone will help out by writing a few letters. We have a month to get protest letters mailed. I am confident that we can provide support to the Avilla, Missouri citizens and help strengthen their fight to keep their post office open.

Thank you,

Tonya Pike
Springfield, Missouri”

If you are interested in other letter-writing campaigns or actions you can take for historic preservation on Route 66, please see this link.


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