Gateway, Rico spared from postal chopping block

The rural western Colorado communities of Gateway and Rico will retain their post offices after the U.S. Postal Service pulled them off the list of communities where post office locations could be shuttered.

Postal Service spokesman David Rupert said the agency decided to keep post offices in those two communities open because of the long distances residents would have to travel to alternate locations to get their mail.

The Postal Service announced in July it would review 3,653 post offices for possible closure in an effort to help stem billions of dollars of revenue loss. In addition to Gateway and Rico, Western Slope post offices under review are Molina on Grand Mesa; Lazear, which is near Hotchkiss; Ophir, which is near Telluride; and Paradox in western Montrose County. Rupert said those four other locations are still under consideration for closure.

Longtime Gateway resident Don McLaughlin said Gateway should have never been on the chopping block. He noted that Energy Fuels’ plans to build a uranium mill, should they go through, will bring in individuals and families who need access to a post office. He said the closest post office to Gateway is 45 miles away in Whitewater.

Like many others who have fought the potential closing of rural post offices, McLaughlin pointed out Gateway’s office serves as a gathering location.

“Almost every time I go down there I invariably meet a neighbor, a good friend, and we pass the time of day,” he said.

He said at least 20 people attended a meeting that the Postal Service held recently to gather feedback.

“That’s why we’re having these meetings, to listen to people,” Rupert said. “In these situations (Gateway and Rico), we heard, and we are backing off.”

While it backed off on closing post offices in Gateway and Rico, the Postal Service is pushing ahead with a proposed 4.6 percent hike in shipping prices next year.

Priority-mail shipment prices would increase 3.1 percent, and express mail prices would increase 3.3 percent.

The rate increase faces review from the Postal Regulatory Commission before it would take effect Jan. 22.


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