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Diamond City Fighting for Post Office
August 2006

After being told by the U.S. Postal Service that it was closing the Diamond City Post Office, city leaders have decided to go into the postal business.

The city council voted 4-0 on Aug. 16 to do whatever is needed to keep the city's post office and zip code. In effect, the city is taking over the postal contract previously held by Allen and Julie Hatfield.

The Diamond City post office is a contracted postal unit (CPU). CPUs are add-on side businesses originally meant to be operated in "mom-and-pop" businesses like convenience stores. The Diamond City Post Office is presently located on Grand Ave.

If the Diamond City CPU closed, its services would be moved to the Lead Hill. Post office boxes would be moved to the Lead Hill Post Office, the city's zip code would change to 72644 and Diamond City residents would have to travel to Lead Hill to purchase stamps or mail packages.

Technically, the Postal Service is only cutting back the amount of money it provides to Diamond City's CPU, not closing it outright. For the past few years, the Postal Service has paid the Diamond City Post Office $15,459 to keep its doors open. From that money, the Hatfields paid the post office's rent, phone bills, insurance and salary. Now the Postal Service is offering only a $4,000 subsidy to fund the Diamond City CPU.

"That would effectively close our post office," Mayor Troy Burleson said. "Mr. Hatfield would not be able to continue operations."

Once the Hatfields tell the Postal Service that they can no longer keep the post office open under the new subsidy, the city has 60 days to come up with a plan before the mail services are transferred to Lead Hill.

"This is something happening not only in Diamond City, but all across the nation," Mayor Burleson said. "The Postal Service is trying to downsize and centralize."

Mayor Burleson said Postal Service officials had given the city permission to take over the Hatfield's contract instead of allowing the post office to close.

"I do not want to give up our city identity," Mayor Burleson said. "I think that would put us back many years."

By taking over the post office, whoever runs it will be a city employee.

Allen and Julia Hatfield presented the council with an offer to continue operating the city-run post office. Julia would be in charge of operating the CPU as postmaster, working 25.75 hours per week and being paid $7.50 per hour. Allen Hatfield would work 25.75 hours per week for $7.50 per hour. He would write and research grants for the city, oversee any special projects that the mayor designated and help out in the post office as needed.

"Can one person do this job?" Mayor Burleson asked the Hatfields. "I'm not sure we can afford two people."

Allen Hatfield said he did not think they could do it with one person, but added it might be possible "because my mother did by herself for years."

Allen Hatfield said he is currently the CPU's only employee; Julia Hatfield helps sort the mail and work the counter, but is not paid for her time.

"In the mornings, you need two people in there," Allen Hatfield said. "In the afternoon, sometimes things are kind of light. But in the morning, before the mail has been sorted, you need two people."

The city council gave Mayor Burleson permission to negotiate salaries, work hours and job duties with the Hatfields.

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