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The holiday season is a busy time for the U.S. Postal Service. In Cape Girardeau, this year's holiday season will be the second one at a temporary main post office on Christine Street -- a facility with cramped parking and small customer area.
The temporary post office has been in operation since March 2004 when the main post office on Frederick Street had to be vacated because of a leaky roof. This year, the USPS decided to purchase the building and make repairs with an estimated total cost of about $800,000. But now the postal service says there are more serious structural problems with the building, meaning both additional expense and further delays. In the meantime, a postal substation is expected to open shortly at the Bi-State convenience store on North Kingshighway, which will provide limited relief.
Given the delays in reopening the main post office and the fact that the postal service has ignored pleas for an additional full-service facility on the west side of the city where both commercial and residential growth has occurred, there is concern that the USPS is shortchanging its customers.
U.S. Rep Jo Ann Emerson wrote a letter to the postmaster general last month that called the city's postal service "substandard." The congresswoman isn't the only Cape Girardean who is unhappy with postal operations here.
The proponents of an additional facility on the west side of town are matched by supporters of keeping a full-service postal facility in the downtown area. A good case can be made for both. Cape Girardeau's growth in recent years means having just one main post office will be an inconvenience for a large number of businesses and residents -- no matter where it's located.
Representative Emerson is right to keep pressuring the USPS for a better response in providing services here. Additional support from business and government officials, along with postal patrons in general, would drive home the community's needs.
You can express your concerns online at www.usps.com (under "Contact us" and then "How can I report a problem or file a complaint?"). You can call 1-800-275-8777. Or you can ask to speak to the station manager at the temporary post office on Christine Street.
With this week's decision to raise postal rates across the board, including a 2-cent increase for a first-class stamp, postal patrons here will be even more eager to get a satisfactory response from USPS officials.