First Posted: 1/15/2009
MCDONALD - There's little that catches the eye in the building with the faded sign that reads “U.S. Post Office McDonald, N.C.” By the end of the week, there will be even less.
But some residents say the town will be much less when the McDonald post office closes Friday - and is assigned a Fairmont mailing address.
A rural box post office, the small room on one side of the old Britt Company building holds little more than two tall, red and blue metal cabinets with 48 numbered boxes and the words “U.S. Mail” across the top. There are no stamp machines, no Postal Service workers and no place to drop mail.
Joe Templeton, a man who came to McDonald 42 years ago on a business trip and never left, said that losing the post office will strip the town of its identity. Templeton, 94, says the post office is one of the few things that McDonald and its 119 residents can call their own.
“If somebody comes down to see you, they'll have a hard time finding you,” Templeton said. “They'll be looking in Fairmont. I pay city taxes to sit in McDonald.”
Bill Brown, a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service, explained the decision.
“The main reason it's shutting down is it provides no safety or security for the mail or the customers,” Brown said. What people can do is either get a post office box at Fairmont or have their mail delivered by the mail carrier themselves. Actually, it'll be better for them, service-wise. They can buy postal products from their rural carrier when they stop by.”
Arthur Britt, who owns the Main Street building, operated a general store next door until about a year ago. Britt recalled when the town had a vibrant post office and post master in the mid-1960s. There was talk about closing the town's post office then, but Britt was willing to put the boxes in his building.
“We have identity,” Britt said. “We can address our mail as McDonald, not Fairmont.”
Forty years later, Britt is one of seven people who still use the boxes. He makes sure the door is open for people to check their mail 24/6 - with Sundays being the day off.
The other 112 people who live in McDonald get mail on a rural route with a Fairmont address.
The owners of the seven boxes received notices about the closing earlier this month. The boxes have rented for about $40 a year for the last 30 years. Britt said the price was once $2 a year, but as that price has climbed, the number of people using the boxes declined.
Mayor Mary Greyard doesn't see what's the big deal. She said the town has used Fairmont addresses since the E-911 system brought numbered addresses to all county residents a few years ago.
“It hasn't been anything for years, it's actually not a post office,” Greyard said. “Years ago, when they took the post office away, it took a lot of the town's identity away, but I can't see that closing it is going to do any harm. Most people get the mail in front of their houses and had for years.”
Greyard does object to sharing a zip code with Fairmont, saying that causes confusion between Sandy Road in McDonald and Sandy Street in Fairmont.