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Lease dispute puts future of Millville Post Office in limbo

December 14, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Roger Mattei stands Tuesday outside the Millville (W.Va.) Post Office. Mattei laments the fact that he sold the building five years ago.
Roger Mattei stands Tuesday outside the Millville (W.Va.) Post Office. Mattei laments the fact that he sold the building five years ago.

MILLVILLE, W.Va. — Roger Mattei said he is still kicking himself for selling the building that houses the Millville Post Office five years ago.


Now, because of it, the post office is closing for the first time in 128 years.


“I should never have sold this place,” lamented Mattei.


His big “A” box holds all the mail generated by his three businesses.


“I come here every day. Now I’m going to have to change more than 200 addresses,” he said.


Mattei and other patrons blame the U.S. Postal Service for closing the post office to save money.


Patty Jessee, manager of operations for 66 post offices in three West Virginia ZIP codes, including the Eastern Panhandle, tells a different story.


The lease for the building expires Dec. 31.


“We’ve been negotiating for a year with the current owner and haven’t been able to come to terms for a new lease,” she said.

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Things could change and the post office could reopen if a new lease is signed, Jessee said.


“This is considered a temporary suspension, not a closing,” she said. “The issue could be resolved later.”


Meanwhile, Jessee said plans call for installing “cluster boxes” at a nearby church for postal patrons who live close by in Millville. Some will have their mail delivered by a rural carrier and others will have to go to the Harpers Ferry (W.Va.) Post Office.


Millville-area residents have been served by a post office in their village since 1882, Mattei said. The original frame building burned down and the current structure was built in its place in the 1940s, he said. It has an apartment upstairs.


The closing will create an inconvenience for the 112 box holders, about half of whom come in every day to pick up their mail, mail packages and buy stamps.


Christine Carter has been postmistress at the Millville site for four years. Department regulations prohibit her from commenting, she said.


John McDermott, 66, of Charles Town, W.Va., has been getting his mail in Millville for 15 years.


“It’s easier than running into Charles Town and standing in line,” McDermott said. “This is a social gathering. A lot of people come in here every day.”


“That’s what bothers me the most,” said Michelle Diaz, who said many older residents connect with neighbors and friends at the post office, in addition to picking up their mail.


“I feel very badly for them. This is the social time of their day,” Diaz said. “Now I’ll have to go to the Harpers Ferry Post Office.”


Larry Jones lives with his wife, Ann, two doors away from the post office.


“We’re going to miss the camaraderie,” he said. “This is a small community.”
 
    

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