Black mold forces closure of post office in Rombauer, Mo.

Monday, March 30, 2009

ROMBAUER, Mo. — The Rombauer post office has been condemned due to mold contamination.

The building was determined unsafe for employees and customers after a facility specialist from the U.S. Postal Service inspected it Feb. 17, according to a spokesman.

"There were several places where mold was discovered," said Richard Watkins of the Kansas City, Mo.-based Mid-America District. An emergency suspension put in place the next day caused a disruption in mail services.

The Rombauer postmaster, Shirley Dowd, is being credited with alerting her supervisor to the problem. Dowd may have suffered medical problems linked to the condition of the facility, according to Rombauer resident Bonnie Chaffin.

Asked to verify if the rumor was true, the Watkins refused, saying it was up to Dowd to elaborate. "I don't want to address an employee's health situation," he said.

Dowd declined to comment, however, saying it was against postal regulations for her to speak to the media.

When the post office was in operation, Chaffin said, a rotten odor could be smelled upon entering. She said many structures in Rombauer have black mold and termite issues because of flooding problems.

"The Postal Service is well adapted to handling these types of interruptions," Watkins said. "We will make the transition as seamless as we can under the given circumstances."

A community open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. April 7 at the Rombauer General Baptist Church to explain plans and solicit comments.

A letter sent to customers the week after the post office had shut down said the change in services was tentative.

"A decision to permanently discontinue the post office has not been made," wrote Wilbur Thornton, manager of post office operations, based at Poplar Bluff, Mo.

Some customers in Rombauer, with a population of 700, receive rural delivery out of either the Poplar Bluff or Fisk, Mo., offices.

At least 38 Rombauer residents had post office boxes at the closed office, Chaffin said.

Those people are asked to call Donna Freeman, Butler County 911 coordinator, at 573-686-8075. Options include installing a roadside mailbox or purchasing a post office box in Poplar Bluff or Fisk.

"A lot of these people are elderly and transportation is an inconvenience," Chaffin said.

Watkins said some people would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and may receive direct delivery. To be considered for hardship services, call Jamon Barnes, Poplar Bluff postmaster, at 573-785-1491.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: