Friday, June 22, 2018
News Roundup

Aripeka's small but beloved post office slated to close Sept. 13

The U.S. Postal Service has lost more than $25 billion since 2007, so it's hard to imagine any of its honchos getting too worked up about closing the little post office in Aripeka — or that it will make much of a dent in the deep red bottom line.

But to the 300 or so folks who live in the coastal community that straddles Pasco and Hernando counties, this is distressing news. Unless somebody really important steps up to save it, the Aripeka post office will shut down on Sept. 13.

The Pasco side residents don't get home delivery, so the post office provides free boxes. That won't change, but now retrieving mail will mean a 7-mile drive to Hudson.

Those who live in Hernando are in the Spring Hill ZIP code, so they get delivery. Still, many of them rent boxes at the post office and depend on it for services.

The postal service blames the closure on the landlord, which if you know anything about Aripeka history, seems almost laughable.

Louise Geiger, 83, has been leasing the building for years at $600 a month. The contract has always been simple. One page. This year, she says, the postal service sent her a thick packet full of forms to sign. She said it would take a lawyer to figure them out and she was already looking at increased premiums for liability insurance.

"I just told them I wasn't signing it,'' she said.

The postal service then used all those free boxes to announce the closure. It cited "federally mandated language required in the lease.''

Geiger is the oldest resident of Aripeka who was born there. Her grandfather, James B. Kolb, took over as postmaster in 1921, when the government decided to end mail delivery that had begun in the late 1800s. Kolb served until his death in 1945 and his daughter, Lizzie Bell Jackson, took over until her retirement in 1971.

Geiger was born to Ellen and Henry Norfleet in a house next door to the post office. In 2008, she located the old wooden structure that had once served as the post office and paid several thousand dollars to buy and move it next to the present modern office.

"I had to save it,'' she said at the time. "For my grandfather. For my family.''

This doesn't sound like a woman unwilling to negotiate. Her supporters believe postal service officials are just using her rejection of the contract as an excuse to do something they have wanted to do for years — close a rural outpost that does little business.

Spokeswoman Enola Rice said the postal service is "seeking suitable alternate quarters in the immediate area for the Aripeka Post Office,'' which seems a bit unlikely. The post office, the Baptist church and the Norfleet family's old store are about the only nonresidential structures in the community.

Julie Wert, 64, retired to Aripeka after 30 years with the postal service, including as a letter carrier out of the Hudson office. She can't get home delivery because she lives more than a half-mile from the last rural carrier's stop in the 34667 ZIP code.

She said the Hudson office did a cost analysis recently on 189 deliveries to mailboxes along the road in Aripeka — $12,000 a year.

"I guess that's too much for them,'' she said. "I understand cost cutting, but shutting down a post office and forcing people to drive so far for their mail is contributing to the downfall of the postal system.''

She also believes the postal service could wave its wand and make all of Aripeka one ZIP code with home delivery. Spokeswoman Rice did not respond to that question, submitted by email.

Alta Trufant, 77, has lived in Aripeka 26 years. She lives in Hernando and gets delivery, but she and husband Ken have kept their post office box.

"It's more than a post office to us,'' she said, echoing the sentiments of residents who stopped on Monday to check for mail. "It's the heart of our community.''

About three years ago, Trufant's pet cockatiel, Ramsey, flew from his cage. She put up a note on the bulletin board at the post office and within days had him back. The board heralds community pot luck dinners and other special events, but this week it's full of notes begging to "save our post office,'' complete with addresses of the congressional delegation.

Trufant recalls visiting the Elfers post office near New Port Richey as a girl. Residents scrolled down lists of names, searching for news about soldiers fighting in World War II.

"Everyone knew everyone,'' she said. "Much like today in Aripeka.''

 
Comments
Florida eliminates Texas Tech at College World Series, faces Arkansas for title-round spot

Florida eliminates Texas Tech at College World Series, faces Arkansas for title-round spot

OMAHA, Neb. — JJ Schwarz hit a two-run homer and Florida built enough cushion to survive Texas Tech's six-run outburst over the seventh and eighth innings to eliminate the Red Raiders from the College World Series with a 9-6 win Thursday night....
Updated: 3 hours ago
Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

ST. PETERSBURG — Missing all of 2017 might have been the absolute worst thing for Matt Duffy.Frustratingly idled as he eventually recovered and rehabbed from ongoing left heel issues, he couldn't play the game he loved, couldn't show the Rays o...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

The NFL will suspend Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston three games without pay to start the regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. The suspension could be increased if he fails to meet certain undisclosed requirements expect...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

TAMPA — The news of Jameis Winston's suspension to start this season likely means the Bucs will have veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick stepping in at quarterback for the first three games of the regular season.Fitzpatrick took over as the starter for th...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Kevin Knox to Knicks makes NBA history locally

Kevin Knox to Knicks makes NBA history locally

More than a year ago, Kevin Knox stepped across the stage at the Straz Center to receive his high school diploma.On Thursday, the former Tampa Catholic star was on basketball's biggest stage as he fulfilled his lifelong goal of making the NBA.Knox wa...
Updated: 4 hours ago
2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

2018-19 schedule unveiled: Lightning opens with five straight at home

NHL schedules all balance out at the end, but the Lightning will open 2018-19 with five straight home games and end the season with its last four on the road.The Lightning released its schedule Thursday evening for the upcoming season, with all sorts...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

Without a first-rounder, Lightning still could have busy draft weekend

The Lightning doesn't have a first-round pick in this weekend's draft, but that's not to say the weekend couldn't be busy for general manager Steve Yzerman and his front office.The Lightning sent its top draft pick to the Rangers in February as part ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Next move is simple for the Bucs: Get rid of Jameis Winston

Next move is simple for the Bucs: Get rid of Jameis Winston

Trade him. Waive him. Cut him.Whatever.Just get rid of him.Jameis Winston should never play another game for the Tampa Bay Bucs.Plain and simple, he's a bad guy and the Bucs should have nothing more to do with him.He already will miss the first three...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Charles Krauthammer, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and intellectual provocateur, dies at 68

Charles Krauthammer, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and intellectual provocateur, dies at 68

Charles Krauthammer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist and intellectual provocateur who championed the muscular foreign policy of neoconservatism that helped lay the ideological groundwork for the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, died...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays journal: Jake Bauers proves he’s up to speed on bases

Rays journal: Jake Bauers proves he’s up to speed on bases

ST. PETERSBURG – Rookie 1B Jake Bauers has impressed at the plate and in the field since his June 7 promotion.Also, with his hustling on the bases."I knew he played hard; everybody said that at every level,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "I di...
Updated: 6 hours ago