By KARLA POMEROY
The Otto Post Office handled what is likely its last pieces of mail on Thursday, July 3.
With the U.S. Postal Service looking to reduce the hours at the Otto Post Office to two hours, Postmaster Colleen K. Jones thought it was the perfect opportunity to retire. According to USPS regional communications director David Ruppert, Jones “voluntarily chose to cancel the lease” and as of July 4 the office was placed in “emergency suspension.” He said there is a 60-day comment period that ends July 20 as the Postal Service is proposing to keep the post office in the unincorporated community closed.
Ruppert said about 16 customers are served daily at the post office.
“We don’t have a place to go. We did a study to find alternate quarters and didn’t find any so we’re in limbo status,” Ruppert said.
To accommodate residents who get their mail at the post office, the Postal Service will be putting up boxes near Otto Park and the ball fields. Residents at this time will not have to change their mailing addresses, he said.
Until the new boxes are up, which Ruppert said was expected this week, residents were asked to come to Basin to pick up their mail. Mail will be delivered by a rural carrier out of the Basin office in the future.
Ruppert said they are collecting comments and have received about a dozen written comments so far regarding the proposed permanent closure of the post office. He said they also obtained comments at a public meeting on June 30.
“We provide delivery service to every American citizen. The rural of rurals we deliver to and that’s not going to change,” Ruppert said.
He said the majority of postal services can be handled through the mail or online, stamps can be ordered through mail or online. Mailing a box in one of the Flat Rate Parcels and Flat Rate envelopes can also be done at home.
“The convenience of having someone at that office won’t be there but there will still be the opportunity for service,” Ruppert said, noting most people won’t see a “hiccup” in their service.
Submit comments or suggestions to the local area post office or mail: Catherine Wright, District Coordinator, 7500 East 53rd Place Room 2211, Denver, CO 80266.
Jones said she will miss the people at the post office but is excited about retirement, noting she’ll be able to see her 23 grandchildren more often.
Jones was officer-in-charge starting Jan. 9, 1976, and became postmaster July 2, 1977. Louise J. Jones was postmaster prior to Colleen Jones, starting in 1946 and Stanley Jones said it was around that time they built onto the family home to house the post office.
There have been 17 postmasters at the Otto Post Office starting with Frank S. Wood in April 1888 when Otto was still part of Fremont County. He was followed by Alba Winslow (1891), Louis W. Blakesley (1897), Minnie F. Winslow (1901), Lehi Thorley (1902), Neils P. Larsen (1903), Peter A. Larsen (1908), Jacob Mayer (1914), Alroy Sprague (1916), Joseph S. Erickson (1917), Arthur Asay (1919), Maurice Anderson (1921), Alfred Beck (1923), Lois Anne Beck (Acting, 1940), Jesse Beck (1940).
Jones said, “These postmasters have seen Otto go through many changes in the past, including moving the whole town up on higher ground from the original site by the Greybull River.”
She said she hates closing the doors to the post office. “I can’t say I won’t miss the commute because there wasn’t one. I’ve been very lucky on that aspect of my job. I’ll miss the friendly faces and the news of the day. The people here are awesome. They are very helpful and friendly people.”