“Rural America is going to be cut out,” said Daisy Mayor Inman Brown, Jr., if the United States Postal Service goes forward with its plan to close small-town post offices all over the country.
Since Daisy, a tiny city in Evans County, was informed its post office was among the 2,000 across the nation in danger of being closed, Brown said he would do everything in his power to fight against the “detrimental” event.
“I can’t imagine a city government and a town that doesn’t have a post office,” said Brown.
Since the public hearing in Daisy held in April with USPS representatives, Brown said he has made it his purpose to “fight this tooth and nail.”
Brown has been in public office with Daisy for more than 30 years, first on council, then serving as mayor pro tem, and now in his twelfth year as mayor.
As long-time residents of Daisy, preserving the identity of Daisy is not only a public issue for the Browns, but also one that is close to their hearts.
Brown’s wife, Carolyn was born in Daisy and he moved there at the age of 9.
“This may be my last hurrah,” he said.
Although Brown said it feels like a one-man army up against such a big
conglomerate, he hopes keeping the post office open would be a final victory he could give the town before his term ends in two years.
The assessment of Daisy’s post office and its cost-effectiveness is still in the “study phase,” however, according to Stephen Seewoester, a public affairs representative with USPS.
Daisy now falls under the North Florida district assigned to Seewoester, after major nationwide redistricting within the postal service.
During the April hearing, about 60 surveys were returned by Daisy citizens as material to be considered during the study, said Brown.
USPS representatives told him the results showed 50 of those surveyed had no opinion.
“The survey questions were somewhat confusing,” said Brown, “and at the end was an open comment section.”
He was told that if people did not make comments, their survey returned as “no opinion.”
A report is currently posted at the Daisy Post Office, indicating what the USPS would possibly do or how things might be handled if the post office is closed later this year, said Seewoester.
But comments can still be submitted for consideration in the study until the beginning of August, he said.
The Browns already collected 90 signatures on a petition that was submitted last month. Their latest effort is the Blue Ribbon Campaign that is meant to raise awareness and encourage everyone to make their voices heard.
At least 60 ribbons hang all over Daisy – on homes, mailboxes, landmarks, antennas, and anything else that can show off Daisy citizens’ desire to save their post office.
“It’s not just the fact that the post office has been here over 100 years,” said Daisy business owner, Manuel Balcarcel.
“We need to make them understand we really do need the post office,” he said.
Balcarcel moved his family-run business to Daisy, where his wife makes mail runs two to three times per day.
Now the largest business in Daisy, Manuel’s Body Shop is facing a great hardship if the post office closes.
“It took almost three and a half years to get our name known by the people of the town,” Balcarcel said. “It is going to be very difficult and costly for me if we lose our zip code.”
They are businesses around Daisy and average citizens alike who will suffer, said Balcarcel, if the post office closes.
Many Daisy citizens walk to the post office daily to receive their mail, with limited or no means of transportation available to them.
While cost seems to be the driving factor in the study of small offices across the nation, Brown makes the argument that very little cost is accrued for the USPS in Daisy, since he takes care of any maintenance and the city pays for the building operations.
In their efforts to save the post office, and in the Browns’ eyes, save the town, opinion polls are being collected to gain a larger body of information to add to the study.
“What would make a difference,” said Seewoester, “is anything that is put into a format that can be added to the study.”
Anything said at the April hearing or submitted since then and up until August 1 would be considered in the study assessment, he said, in order to give everyone an opportunity to communicate their concerns.
This is why Brown finds it so important to get the word out and have everyone make their voices heard.
He has collected about 20 opinion polls so far and will continue to distribute and collect them for submission.
A final decision for the Daisy Post Office is expected to be announced in September.