TRUFANT — A large crowd of residents from Trufant and surrounding areas gathered at the village’s community center Thursday evening in the hope of getting answers from the U.S. Postal Service as to why hours will soon be severely curtailed at the post office there. They left 90 minutes later with most of those questions unanswered; nobody from the postal service showed up.
However, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s representative, Mary Judnich — along with state Rep. Rick Outman and state Sen. Judy Emmons — were there to hear the concerns of the residents.
The meeting was sponsored by the Trufant Area Chamber of Commerce, but most comments came from members of the audience, all of whom expressed concern over the post office’s cutting of hours.
According to chamber member Virginia Christian, the post office in Trufant may soon be cutting back to four hours per day.
“We’re a little uptight over that,” Christian said. “We want our post office to stay open at least six hours a day, because people who come into town to buy a stamp or mail a package will also stop at one of our stores for a loaf of bread or something.”
To help get that message through to post office representatives, the chamber helped initiate a letter writing campaign in which well over 100 residents took place, sending postcards to representatives’ offices as well as postal service management.
Christian admitted that, so far, the postal service administrators have been slow to reply.
“They don’t want to talk to us,” she said. “We haven’t heard much from the postal department.”
Several audience members also commented on the lack of postal service representation at the meeting.
Emmons noted that the postal service has been struggling in recent years, but contends that the problems the service is experiencing are hitting rural areas disproportionately.
“This seems a little backward to me,” Emmons said. “In urban areas, you have other options. Instead, they’re impacting rural areas that don’t have other choices. What I don’t think they realize is we don’t even have a stable Internet connection in a lot of rural areas. I think they’re doing this backward.”
Longtime Trufant resident Shannon Miller drew a round of applause from the audience with her comments regarding the way in which the postal service informed residents of the planned changes in hours.
“There were never any true choices,” she said. “We were told that our post office was being closed because it didn’t make any money. That is just false; I’ve seen the numbers. I feel we were given half the information; it bordered on being lied to.
“We are a small community. When you have a post office you’re on the map, when you don’t you’re not on the map.”
The postal service has opened a satellite office in a nearby grocery, but the services provided there fall far short of what customers can obtain at the “real” post office.
Trufant resident Betty Adams brought up the problems of lax security and the possibility of identity theft inherent in leaving mail and packages at a grocery store satellite post office, noting that — unlike the regular post office — they were not set up to deal with security issues.
Adams also said the lack of a post office office would “stifle” the town.
“Eventually, we’ll be a dead town,” she said.
Several current and retired post office employees from Trufant and surrounding areas were on hand, not to speak as representatives of the postal service, but rather to share their concerns over the cutbacks.
One post office employee, who requested anonymity due to the possibility of employment repercussions, said the office represents a gathering place for small communities. That same employee also noted that cutting post office hours would likely have a negative impact on surrounding businesses.
“All the business rely on each other,” the employee said. “If one goes down, all the businesses suffer in a big way.”
Stabenaw’s representative, Judnich, said she would relay the community’s concerns to Chuck Howe, who will soon be sworn in as the district’s new postal service director.
“I have made contact with the postal service,” Judnich said. “I will follow up on behalf of you all on Monday.”