Town worries post office open since 1887 could close

HUDSON — Although its population is small, just 125 people, this town boasts Stafford County's largest private business and a cafe that fills its tables every Sunday.

Hudson even has a bank.

So it doesn't sit well with locals that their post office, which has been open since 1887, could be closing.

"We're anticipating the worst but hoping for the best," said Hudson Mayor Pete Witt, who said he wrote a letter urging U.S. Postal Service officials to rethink the proposal. "We're a little town, and we don't want to lose anything — especially a post office."

Hudson isn't the only community, however, on the government's potential chopping block. Of the state's 600 post offices, officials are looking at 11 for closure, said Brian Sperry, regional spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service based in Colorado.

That includes a post office in the town of Summerfield, in Marshall County, which has as many as 160 residents, and the state's smallest incorporated city, Freeport, population 5.

The reason is a decline in mail volume and increasing competition, Sperry said. Thanks to electronic billing, e-mail, the Internet and texting, mail volume has dropped 20 percent nationwide — or the equivalent of 43 billion pieces of mail. In the past decade, first-class stamped mail has fallen 50 percent.

The Postal Service is suffering financially. It loses $23 million a day and ended fiscal year 2010 with an $8.5 billion shortfall.

Moreover, the Postal Service is self-supporting, not financed by taxpayer dollars.

"Business as usual is not an option for us," Sperry said. "In response to those challenges, we're reviewing our facilities to identify inefficiencies and savings."

In all, the Postal Service is looking at potentially closing 2,000 locations across the United States, he said. Post offices targeted have a declining workload and customer demand, as well as a vacant postmaster position.

"I can tell you the daily retail transactions of many of these locations have fallen into the single digits," he said.