Three post offices to serve one little town

PAT FRIDGEN
State Line postmaster Deb Nicarry serves Debbie Timmons, a Maryland customer who likes the local facility. Nicarry may soon be sorting less mail if residents select the option of free home delivery in lieu of a rented box.

All State Line residents have an opportunity to move. Their choices are Greencastle or Waynesboro. Or they can stay put. The end result might be that three neighbors who share tools and cups of flour will have different addresses, though no one literally hired a moving company or met with a realtor.

Confused?

Due to United States Postal Service regulations, customers from zip code 17239 are seeing an end to their free boxes at the post office. Postmaster Deb Nicarry is in the process of notifying all State Line residents that by Oct. 1 they must pay rent for the box in the post office lobby, or sign up for free home delivery of their mail.

The switch was supposed to occur years ago, Nicarry said, but a misunderstanding at a higher level of management allowed State Line residents to use the mailboxes at no cost until now. Only out-of-town people who wanted a P.O. Box address were charged rent, ranging from $40 per year for the smallest receptacle, to $100 for the largest.

The USPS in Washington DC, scrutinizing its finances, realized that State Line's box rent was too low for the population and wondered why. An investigation revealed the no-fee service, and headquarters said, "No way." After all, the national Postal Service has struggled for years to regain profitability in a computer-based society, with its email and online communication alternatives. New technology garnered the traditional method of sending missives the nickname 'snail mail.' The recession has also done its damage. Because the postal service has lost money in 11 of the past 12 quarters, it didn't want State Line to continue to contribute to the inadequate revenue.

The free mail delivery in the village will be handled by carriers from Greencastle and Waynesboro post offices, hence the neighbor dilemma. People living north of East Avenue will have to change their addresses to Greencastle. People living south of East Avenue will have to change their addresses to Waynesboro. People who continue to use boxes, but now pay for them, will keep State Line for their addresses.

"It's going to be very confusing," said Nicarry.

She expected a mad rush for folks to sign up for free delivery, but has been pleasantly surprised. "Not as many have requested a change as I thought. This will help keep the office open by providing the revenue we need. We're hoping we keep the majority here."

She noted some residents are sticking with State Line for security reasons. The mail cannot be tampered with and they don't have to worry about vandalism of an outdoor mailbox. They also don't have to change addresses with every company they do business with or every person they correspond with. There will be no need to get an updated drivers' license.

The staff in the other municipalities are ready to handle any new customers, and have already done so to a degree. Both Greencastle and Waynesboro are currently without postmasters, and are guided by officers-in-charge. Greencastle's Stan Rock said approximately 10 households have made the switch to his territory. His carriers just added them to established routes. "It's not a problem," he said, and added, "A lot of people like their local post office. They like visiting there. They have options."

Chris Sanbower didn't have a number for Waynesboro, but said new customers were already incorporated into her routes. The process takes a little time. "People need to fill out a form requesting an extension of rural delivery, which must then be approved by Harrisburg," she said.

Nicarry says the post office will remain a welcome place for everyone. "People will still come here for stamps and to mail packages. It's handy for that reason."