SANDPOINT - A public representative is urging the Postal Regulatory Commission to reject the U.S. Postal Service's motion to dismiss an appeal of an order closing the post office in Careywood.
The postal service argues it is not subject to the rules governing the closure of post offices because Careywood was operated by an independent contractor. The postal service contends that the closure regulations apply to facilities it operates, not contract postal units.
But Erica Barker, an official appointed by the commission to represent the interests of the general public during its proceedings, counters that the commission has a record of applying procedural and appeal rights in actions involving contract postal units when they are the sole source of postal services to a community.
Barker adds that documents filed in the appeal demonstrate that Careywood is a distinct community and that closing the post office would eliminate its only source of postal services.
The Careywood post office's 500 customers were notified on Feb. 20 that the facility would permanently close as of March 31. Post office box customers were relocated to the Athol post office.
"Given the record presented in this appeal, it is clear that Careywood qualifies as a separate and distinct community from Athol. The appeal demonstrates that the Athol post office is located in a different community, in a different county, with different emergency services and court services," Barker said in a brief published on Friday in opposition to the postal services motion to dismiss the appeal.
Careywood postal customers argue their right to due process was disregarded because the postal service sidestepped its closure regulations by declining to allow for a 60-day comment period on the proposed closure or a 30-day appeal period.
Political support is building behind Careywood postal customers' effort to overturn the closure order, commission records indicate.
U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, noted that there has been a postal presence in Careywood for more than a century and the current facility has been in operation since 1933.
"There is a strong need for reliable postal services in this community and significant concerns have been shared with me regarding the impact and expenses that will be levied on residents with the closure of Careywood facility," Crapo said in a letter of support.
Bonner County commissioners also support the appeal. The board told the postal commission that the "Careywood post office is the heart of this small rural community and its closure will place a burden of many more miles of travel, valuable time and the associated costs involved."