Thursday, August 16, 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

Preseason football: Berkeley Prep passing game on point in weather-shortened win

TAMPA — Berkeley Prep did some strange things on offense Thursday night.Instead of wheeling around to hand off, quarterback Josh Youngblood was firing the ball down the field.The Bucs becoming more of passing team?Believe it.By shucking its run...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Rays finally won a series in Yankee Stadium. Now for some perspective.

The Rays finally won a series in Yankee Stadium. Now for some perspective.

NEW YORK — After the Rays exhaled following Thursday's tense-as-they come 3-1 win, they were able to appreciate the significance of what they'd done.For now.And, more importantly, for the future.Really, it shouldn't be that hard. They make thre...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays journal: Rookie Adam Kolarek picks good time for first career save

Rays journal: Rookie Adam Kolarek picks good time for first career save

NEW YORK — There was a lot that went into the Rays hanging on to their 3-1, series-clinching win over the Yankees Thursday.Including the conversation  reliever Adam Kolarek had with himself jogging in from the bullpen with the bases loaded...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Preseason football: Springstead rolls over Hudson 55-0

Preseason football: Springstead rolls over Hudson 55-0

SPRING HILL — Preseason games are usually a good gauge of where teams stand entering the season. But even after Springstead's 55-0 win over Hudson on Thursday night, Eagles coach Mike Garofano was cautiously optimistic.He thought dept...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Pasco deputies arrest 21-year-old in deadly Hudson gunfight

Pasco deputies arrest 21-year-old in deadly Hudson gunfight

HUDSON — A 21-year-old man was arrested on a murder charge Thursday night, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, 24 hours after a drug deal turned into a deadly gunfight in an apartment complex parking lot.Anthony Blount of 12424 Hicks Road...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Deputies: Boy, 13, who once brought a gun to school made threats

Deputies: Boy, 13, who once brought a gun to school made threats

The 13-year-old Clair-Mel boy who was arrested for bringing a loaded handgun to Dowdell Middle School back in April now faces even more trouble: He is accused of threatening to conduct a shooting attack against the same school on social media, accord...
Updated: 4 hours ago
He listed a degree he doesn’t have, lacked stated requirements. Still got Clearwater police job.

He listed a degree he doesn’t have, lacked stated requirements. Still got Clearwater police job.

CLEARWATER — The candidate did not, on paper, meet minimum requirements of the position. He was not the clear choice of the review board. He also listed a degree on his application that he did not really have. But then-Parks and Recreation athletics ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Florida Bar investigating one of stand your ground shooter's lawyers

Florida Bar investigating one of stand your ground shooter's lawyers

The Florida Bar has opened an investigation into one of the lawyers who signed on this week to represent Michael Drejka, the man who shot and killed Markeis McGlockton in what authorities at first called a stand your ground case. A spokeswoman for t...
Updated: 5 hours ago
‘I need help now!’ pleads woman in 911 tape from Florida stand your ground shooting

‘I need help now!’ pleads woman in 911 tape from Florida stand your ground shooting

Even before the 911 operator could ask about the emergency, the caller was screaming."Baby! Oh my God!" she yelled, as the operator tried to calmly ask for the address."I need help now! I need help now!" the caller pleaded, her voice cracking in hyst...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Deputies: Wesley Chapel man drowns near Gandy Beach

Deputies: Wesley Chapel man drowns near Gandy Beach

ST. PETERSBURG — A 69-year-old Wesley Chapel man drowned off Gandy Beach on Thursday, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.Sven Torsell of Betts Drive fell into the water just south of the beach at about 1:30 p.m., deputies said. About a half-ho...
Updated: 5 hours ago