Hamlet, Pop. 400, You Have Mail

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Post Office boxes.

Breaks, Virginia, will keep its post office after all.

No picket signs or rock-throwing necessary.

A long-shot petition drive by some of the Appalachian hamlet’s 400 or so citizens paid off when the Postal Service, bowing to congressional pressure, today said it will keep open about 400 rural locations it had said would close.

The Postal Service, which will announce its second-quarter loss tomorrow, said its new approach will save more money by reducing hours and substituting part-time help in rural offices for full-time postmasters.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe noted that small-town post offices are community gathering spots and sometimes the primary source of local information. That’s the case in Breaks, a mountain community that has no broadband Internet access and the state’s lowest median household income.

The Postal Service’s change of strategy is a victory for James Childress, a retired park superintendent who led the petition drive, calling the post office the “heart and soul of the community.”

Keith Mullins, a retired coal miner who helped Childress get signatures, mused in an interview in October that it might take picket signs or rocks to get Washington’s attention.

No longer.


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