To people in Ramona, the post office is a meeting place, a spiritual epicenter and the last big business in town, city clerk Jessica Gilbert said.
“It’s the only business in town,” post office patron Warren Fike said Tuesday. “We’d hate to lose it.”
The U.S. Postal Service recently released lists of post offices that could be closed for budgetary reasons, a discontinuance survey. Post offices in Burdick, Durham, Cassoday, Cedar Point, Elmdale, Potwin, Lehigh, Florence, and Lost Springs joined Ramona among area post offices that could close.
Gilbert said losing the post office would have a dramatic effect on the local economy and inconvenience residents. If the post office in Lost Springs would close, Lincolnville would be the closest post office. Residents in Tampa, who use the Ramona post office as their unofficial office, may have to drive as far away as Hope.
“A post office in the country is so much more vital than a post office in the city,” Gilbert said. “You go to Salina and you have UPS and Fed Ex.”
Although Ramona would be hurt by the loss of viable business, Gilbert said an equally damaging loss would be losing postmaster Kathy Matkins who would have to find employment somewhere else.
“It causes a quake on so many levels,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert said Matkins routinely goes above and beyond her postal duties. She delivers on Saturdays and her husband delivers on treacherous roads in the snow.
To make sure the Ramona post office did not close because of neglect, Matkins has personally made repairs to the office.
Matkins has also been an important figure in Ramona. Since moving from Salina, Matkins has purchased property and has served on Ramona’s city council.
“She’s been a force for positive change,” Gilbert said.
With her mail carrier duties, Matkins is the pulse of the community. If a person is not answering their mail for several days, Matkins will call the person’s family or check on them, Gilbert said.
Matkins could not comment on the importance of the Ramona post office. She has been instructed to refer inquiries to a spokesman in Omaha.
“None of us really knows anything,” Matkins said of the situation. “It’s a survey.”
In Lost Springs, the possibility of the post office closing is equally bleak. The office and Al’s Café are next to each other on Berry Street are the only businesses in town.
Surrounding the bright white post office and café are dilapidated store fronts, merely a memory of when the town was booming with oil money.
Samson Morrison, Bill Redner, and Bryan Swenney were working on the fiber home project for Tri-County communications in Lost Springs Tuesday. While they live in Council Grove, they have recently used the post offices in Lost Springs and Burdick.
“It’s open during the hours where we are,” Morrison said.
However, the three cable workers are originally from larger towns — Morrison from Phoenix, and Redner and Swenney from Minneapolis, Minn.
They have been getting used to the differences of a small town like Lost Springs.
“When somebody says a gas station has a really good sandwich, you know it’s a small place,” Morrison said.
Ultimately, they understand why some post offices may close.
“I do realize they’ve got to cut the budget somewhere,” Redner said. “The post office didn’t save this town.”
Gilbert said everyone is facing tough decisions with the economic stress on Marion County and the entire U.S.
“We all need to deal with tough stuff,” Gilberts said.
“All I can do is be so grateful that you’re here,” Gilbert told Matkins.