Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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.''

Aripeka's small but beloved post office slated to close Sept. 13 08/27/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 6:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bar review: Les Partners Lounge goes old-school in Clearwater

    Bars & Spirits

    There are some local places that I'm shocked aren't more well known, and I think that's the result of a general aversion to stepping out of one's comfort zone. I make regular concerted efforts to step outside of mine, which often leads me to strange and rewarding drinking establishments.

    Les Partners Lounge is an old-school, smoker-friendly cocktail lounge and live music venue tucked away in a nondescript shopping plaza in Island Estates.
  2. Local craft beer of the week: Plongeur a L'eponge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.

    Bars & Spirits

    Tarpon Springs' Saint Somewhere Brewing Co. has a somewhat idiosyncratic approach to wild ale brewing, utilizing an open brewing approach involving uncovered fermenters in order to brew beer with local ambient microbes, reminiscent in some ways to the fermentation techniques used by rustic farmhouse breweries in Belgium …

     Plongeur a?€š€™L?ˆš??ponge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Company, 6/23/17  Electric Chair Sour Shandy, Angry Chair Brewing, 6/30/17   Pulp Friction Grapefruit IPA, Motorworks Brewing 7/7/17
  3. No tapes: Trump says he didn't record meetings with Comey

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday he "did not make" and doesn't have any recordings of his private conversations with ousted FBI Director James Comey, speaking up on Twitter after a month-long guessing game that began with him delivering an ominous warning and ended with his administration ensnared …

    President Donald Trump speaks during the "American Leadership in Emerging Technology" event in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Washington. [AP Photo/Evan Vucci]
  4. Ramadan having an economic impact on local charities, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Dodging the rain, a few families and customers gathered inside Petra Restaurant on Busch Boulevard. Around 8:30 p.m., the adham (or call to prayer) music begins, signaling Iftar, the end of the daily fast. Customers grabbed a plate to dig into the feast.

    Baha Abdullah, 35, the owner of the Sultan Market makes kataif, a common dessert that is eaten during the month long celebration of Ramadan in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. Senate GOP leaders face tough job in selling health-care bill to their members

    Health

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders on Thursday moved swiftly to begin selling their health-care measure to substantially rewrite the Affordable Care Act to their wary members as they seek to garner enough support to pass the bill in an expected vote next week.

    U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill's chief author, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has said "Obamacare is collapsing around us, and the American people are desperately searching for relief." [AP]