Ramona residents Fern Leach and Connie Smith need a post office, or at least the same level of service they are receiving from the Ramona office and post master Kathy Matkins.
Leach and Smith both receive medication through the mail. For Smith, her life could be in danger if any one of her three essential medications is more than two days late.
“Those three medications, I’ll be on for all my life,” Smith, 57, said. “I have to have those three medicines to stay alive.”
With the Ramona post office as one of 10 area offices under study for closure by the U.S. Postal Service, delivery may be less reliable for Leach and Smith in the future.
Smith started having heart problems about a year ago. She was diagnosed with peripheral artery disease in December.
While she can drive, Smith prefers not to drive long distances because she is often still fatigued from treatments. Regular trips to Herington or Hope, which would be required with the closing of the Ramona post office, would be a massive inconvenience.
One of the options that is listed on a U.S. Postal Service survey that Smith has received would be for mail to be dropped in communal post office boxes. This is an even worse option for Smith. Her medicine is sensitive, exposure to extreme cold or heat in an open space on Main Street could be damaging.
“I pay $235 every three weeks,” Smith said. “I can’t have that sitting in a mail box.”
Leach, 54, faces a similar dilemma. Leach is in remission from multiple myeloma, a cancer that attacks lymph nodes and plasma in bones. She currently takes six medications daily that she receives through the mail.
“When you’re going through chemo, that’s nothing,” Leach said of the medicine she takes. “Depending on the day, I was taking 18 to 20 pills.”
Leach was diagnosed with the disease in June 2009. With the disease attacking her blood, Leach went through extremely painful chemotherapy treatments.
“The cure for cancer sometimes is worse than cancer,” Leach said.
She received a stem cell transplant on Christmas Eve 2009 to restore her white blood cell count.
“My daughter said I would be their Christmas miracle,” Leach said.
The cancer went into remission later that month. Leach is not cured; the cancer could return at any time.
“It used to be five years was the length of time people would live,” Leach said of the disease. “It’s a scary thing.”
Even with the cancer in remission, Leach must be careful not to over exert herself. Her bones are brittle, like someone suffering from osteoporosis. She also tries to avoid driving long distances. She only lives a block from the Ramona post office.
“It would be especially inconvenient,” Leach said if the office were to close.
Although the office does not home deliver, Matkins and her husband Dan, have delivered to Leach and Smith under special circumstances.
“Darn it, Kathy will make sure we get our mail,” Smith said.
That is one instance where Matkins has gone above and beyond in her job. Running a trucking business from her home, Smith said she is among many Ramona residents who receive checks in the mail. She said Matkins has helped residents fill out money orders and other paper work.
Matkins also has performed maintenance on the post office building.
“Dan and Kathy have worked hard to keep it up,” Smith said. “They didn’t want to give the owners any reason to increase rent. They have paid out of their own pockets.”
Matkins has also served as a gauge for the community. When residents do not come in for multiple days to pick up their mail, Matkins checks on them. In the event that something is wrong, she has notified family members.
“I know this because she’s my friend,” Smith said.
Leach also counts Matkins as a friend. Smith has lived in Ramona for 27 years, relocating from Abilene.
“These are the type of people you don’t want to lose,” Smith said of the Matkinses.
Smith was mayor for 11 years. While she will personally suffer if the office closes, she also sees the affect on the town. The post office is the fulltime business in the city.
“If they close us down they might as well take us off the map,” Smith said. “It’s not fair to rural America; we have rights like everybody else.”