Monday, April 23, 2018
News Roundup

Government weighs options to keep Aripeka post office open

ARIPEKA — Residents outraged over the closing of the post office in the heart of this tight-knit community came away from a meeting with U.S. Postal Service officials last week with hopes it could reopen.

There is no home mail delivery to the Pasco side of coastal Aripeka — which straddles the county line with Hernando — so for decades residents have relied on picking up their mail from free post office boxes at the historic branch.

So when the post office closed on Sept. 13 amid a lease dispute with the property's owner, residents found themselves forced to make a 15-mile round trip to the branch in Hudson to check their boxes. The change put Postal Service officials on the defensive at a heated community meeting Wednesday night.

Dozens filled the Aripeka Community Club with many saying the mostly elderly community of around 300 people has little means to drive a long distance or the capacity to deal with treacherous traffic on U.S. 19 where the Hudson post office sits. Many are mailed medications they will not be able to pick up, putting their health in danger, one woman in the crowd shouted.

"This is outrageous and totally unacceptable," said Jim Smith, a second-generation resident whose family has lived in Aripeka for 48 years.

Postal Service officials held the meeting to get community suggestions on a solution, said spokeswoman Enola Rice.

"We never had any intention of closing the post office in Aripeka," she told the Times prior to the meeting.

Instead, the post office was forced into an "emergency" closing because the property owner refused to renew a lease with the Postal Service and issued an eviction notice to the agency, David Jordan, a USPS operations manager who oversees the Suncoast region, told the crowd. Jordan said the property owner refused to sign due to federally mandated language in the lease that could not be removed.

Discontent swept through the crowd as people made accusations that the Postal Service intended to close the post office and used a lease dispute as a ruse to do so, which Jordan denied. He said the Postal Service is looking for options which could include finding another site in Aripeka to open an office or creating a rural area home delivery route.

One offer from a respected source in the community left the crowd the most hopeful. Local general store owner Carl Norfleet, who is related to the owner of the post office site, Louise Geiger, said he has a deal in place to buy the building from her. He said he would have no objection to the terms of the lease if the post office would work with him. His comments drew a huge round of applause from the audience.

Jordan pledged to work with Norfleet but did not set a time frame to resolve the problem. Norfleet told the Times the Postal Service has paid around $580-a-month in rent for the site. Because of higher insurance costs, he would need to increase rent $50 per month to break even, but Norfleet said he wasn't focused on the bottom line.

"It's not a money-making endeavor for me," he said. "There is a need here and some things transcend money."

Comments
Former Rays pitcher Danny Farquhar “progressing well’ after surgery

Former Rays pitcher Danny Farquhar “progressing well’ after surgery

As former teammates with the Rays and throughout baseball share thoughts and prayers, RHP Danny Farquhar is "progressing well" in a Chicago hospital after suffering a hemorrhage caused by a brain aneurysm on Friday.The White Sox on Monday released th...
Updated: 3 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 23

Monday’s scoreboardBaseballCanterbury 10, Citrus Park Christian 0Northeast 12, Countryside 5
Updated: 3 hours ago
Man faces first-degree murder charge in 2017 death of woman

Man faces first-degree murder charge in 2017 death of woman

TAMPA — A 68-year-old man was arrested Monday on a first-degree murder charge, according to Tampa police.Officers took James Leon Jackson into custody at 2712 W Nassau St. in west Tampa at about 1 p.m. A warrant for his arrest had been issued Friday....
Updated: 3 hours ago
A new museum will honor America’s lynching victims, including those killed in Tampa Bay

A new museum will honor America’s lynching victims, including those killed in Tampa Bay

In May 1914, a Hernando County grand jury decided not to indict John Davis, a black man accused of attempting to assault a white woman in a hotel. But days after he was released from the Citrus County jail, Davis’s body was found beaten with a ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison have ex-Ray vision. Here’s what they see.

Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison have ex-Ray vision. Here’s what they see.

ST. PETERSBURG — Absolutely, Alex Cobb was saying over the phone, it's going to be weird pitching Tuesday against the Rays.The organization that he owes so much for rearing him since high school, standing by him through assorted injuries, enabl...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Mon., April 23, midday:40 874 5140e_SRit69262Mon., April 23, evening:76 974 2849e_SRit78236Fantasy 5Mon., April...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Waffle House slaying suspect arrested; veteran receives world’s most extensive penis transplant; more in U.S. news

Waffle House slaying suspect arrested; veteran receives world’s most extensive penis transplant; more in U.S. news

TennesseeWaffle House slaying suspect arrestedThe mentally unstable white gunman suspected of killing four people and wounding more at a diverse Nashville Waffle House was arrested near his apartment Monday, authorities said. Police and federal agent...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Armenia’s leader quits amid protests; van driver kills 10 in Toronto; more in world news

Armenia’s leader quits amid protests; van driver kills 10 in Toronto; more in world news

ArmeniaLeader quits: ‘I was wrong’Ten days of demonstrations forced the resignation Monday of the man who has led post-Soviet Armenia since 2008. The unexpected resignation prompted the jubilation of tens of thousands in capital Yerevan’s Republic Sq...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Deputies find parents who fled with newborn; 1-month-old is safe

Deputies find parents who fled with newborn; 1-month-old is safe

TAMPA — The 1-month-old infant reported missing Monday was found hours later about 300 miles north in Quincy, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Sage Cooper was reported to be unharmed, officials said, and Gadsden County sheriff’s ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Saudi-led airstrike at Yemen wedding killed at least 20

SANAA, Yemen — An airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a wedding party in northern Yemen, killing at least 20 people including the bride, health officials said Monday, as harrowing images emerged on social media of the deadly bombing, the third t...
Updated: 5 hours ago