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"Postal Road Warrior" Delivers to Rural Oregon

PHOTO: Jamie Partridge. Courtesy of Jamie Partridge.
August 6. 2012
PHOTO: Jamie Partridge. Courtesy of Jamie Partridge.

PORTLAND, Ore. - One month and hundreds of miles is a long route for a letter carrier. But Jamie Partridge is a man on a mission: to help small towns, if they want it, to fight the closure of their local post offices or, in larger cities, their mail processing plants. After 27 years delivering mail in Portland, he's come out of retirement to work with the Rural Organizing Project.

An estimated one-third of Oregon post offices will be affected by the current plans to close or reduce services. Partridge agrees with some in Congress who say the U.S. Postal Service is being strapped by an unnecessary requirement to pre-fund 75 years of retirees' health benefits. And he says there are plenty of ways the Post Office could expand its services.

"Post Offices could offer one-stop government services – you know, renew your driver's license – now it does passports and money orders, but it could do much more than that. It could be a notary service; it could be a check-cashing service; it could be all kinds of things, particularly in low-income and rural neighborhoods."

He points out that postmasters in 124 Oregon communities are also slated to lose their jobs, starting this fall, and he thinks it's time for their customers to speak up.

"Losing their full-time postmaster is a big thing in a small town, because a postmaster is a source of information about what's happening in town, and the Post Office is a place where people meet and greet and, you know, the postmaster tends to be a leader in these small towns."

Today, Partridge is taking his message to a national convention of mail handlers in Portland. Then he'll be back on the road in towns from Adams to Blodgett to Idanha, for the rest of the month.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR