MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Rural post offices have been given a reprieve. Thousands were slated for closure, but after loud objections, yesterday the Postmaster General said they will survive, though with shorter hours.
In tiny Kerrick, Minnesota, population about 60, Debra Stadin organized a petition drive to keep her post office open. Her daughter works there, and Ms. Stadin says it serves a broader community than just Kerrick.
DEBRA STADIN: Oh, it is extremely important. I mean, the thought of this post office closing, it was just very scary because there is no post office south of Duluth until Kerrick. We used to have one in Holyoke and Nickerson and (unintelligible) and, slowly, they've whittled away our little rural post offices out here, so we were kind of getting down to being the only one south of Duluth. So, you know, there's just so many things our post office does for our community. It's a staple in our community.
BLOCK: Yeah. I was wondering about that because apart from people just needing to get their mail, does the post office there become, you know, a social center? It's where you catch up on what's going on.
STADIN: Absolutely. It absolutely does and it's just kind of a well-check on seniors. You know, if you don't hear from one or the other for a while, you know, someone will come in. Have you seen so-and-so? I mean, it's just - it has a lot of different services that it offers outside of just the postal part of it, so...
BLOCK: Well, yesterday, the postmaster general, Patrick Donahoe, said, we've listened to our customers in rural America and we've heard them loud and clear. Post offices are not going to be cut, but the hours may be cut. Right? What have you heard about Kerrick?
STADIN: Well, we've heard, you know, just the proposed hours. The retail hours are going from eight hours to four hours a day. You know, like, I'm relieved that the Kerrick Post Office is going to remain open, but I do kind of have my concerns about the four retail hours. Will it really truly meet the needs of the area? Because we're so vast and large and trying to get people in during those strict hours like that. You know, I'm thinking - I was hoping they would look at a six hour day. Would be a lot better, but you know, I guess, at this point, we're just really relieved that we're going to remain open.
BLOCK: You know, of course, that the post office is hemorrhaging money. They're looking for savings any way they can. Does any part of that financial argument make sense to you, that they just can't afford to keep all of these rural post offices open?
STADIN: Well, you know, in doing my homework on this, basically, we felt, you know, the rural post offices were being attacked. I mean, they're only - it's less than one percent of the postal service's budget. I think there's other areas in the postal service that could be probably more justifiably cut instead of, you know, kind of just jumping on the rural America and, you know, we don't count. Well, we do count, you know, and it's one percent, less than one percent. Just didn't make sense to me.
BLOCK: Well, Debra, was there a big celebration in Kerrick yesterday when you heard the news that the post office is not going to be closed down?
STADIN: Well, honestly, I was excited, thrilled, but unfortunately, it was toward the end of our business day and there was just nobody to talk to about it. It was kind of roll up the sidewalk time, so, but we've heard a lot today and a lot of positiveness about everything, so everybody's very relieved.
BLOCK: Well, Debra Stadin, thanks for talking to us today.
STADIN: I appreciate the opportunity to do this.
BLOCK: Debra Stadin ran the campaign to save the post office in Kerrick, Minnesota, population in the 60s. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.