If the U.S. Postal Service has its way, postal facilities across southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia could go the way of the dinosaur.

As if the proposed closure of Bluefield’s processing and distribution center wasn’t bad enough, officials announced last week that 26 additional post offices in our region may be closed as well. McDowell County in particular would take a devastating hit with 14 postal centers now targeted for closure as part of a “expanded access study” underway by postal officials.

This includes post offices in Bartley, Big Creek, Big Sandy, Cucumber, Elbert, Kyle, Maybeury, Nemours, Newhall, Pageton, Squire, Switchback, Thorpe, Warriormine, and Wilcoe.

 In Mercer County, postal centers in Camp Creek, Hiawatha, Kellysville, and Nemours could be closed in addition to the processing and distribution center in Bluefield. In Tazewell County, post offices in Bandy, Horsepen, Jewell Ridge, and Tannersville are included in the closure study while the Keen Mountain and Whitewood postal centers in Buchanan County also faces the possibility of closure. The Ceres Post Office in Bland County and Eggleston Post Office in Giles County are also being considered for closure or consolidation.

U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said the new study is aimed at “right-sizing” the existing retail network. He argues that the habits of customers have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business.

However, what Donahoe is failing to take into consideration is what impact the closure of smaller postal facilities such as Horsepen, Kellyville, Squire and Pageton will have on families living in rural parts of southern West Virginia.

While the postal service says it wants to replace some post offices with third-party retailers, such a plan may not be a perfect fit for many communities, according to U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall.

Rahall, along with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., are all correctly questioning what they view as a disproportionate number of postal facilities targeted for closure in West Virginia when compared to other states.

If we are to save any or all of our local post offices, the region as a whole must now speak up. Concerned citizens and business leader must attend all upcoming public comment and participation sessions to express our opposition and outrage to these proposed closures.

We must speak up. We must let the U.S. Postal Service know that we are opposed to these closures. If we don’t speak up, and if we don’t attend the public hearings and public comment sessions, then we have no guarantee that our post offices will be saved.

Area residents should be outraged over the unusually high number of postal centers proposed for closure in our region. It is after all families living in remote parts of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia that are most dependent upon having a local community post office.

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