All About Our Town
About 75 concerned citizens of all ages converged on the tiny Blocksburg post office today to convince postal officials to keep it open. Residents organized seating, shade, and cool drinks for the hour-long meeting that took place in the dirt parking lot near the old store building.
“This is fifth generation with this post office,” said Dawnita Hoisington, who was holding a grandchild. “You’re taking more than a post office from all of us. You may not see everybody here, but these hills are full of people. It’s hot today. A lot of people didn’t come today. Our elderly people didn’t come because it’s hot. You’re going to take a sense of community from these guys that we’re never going to get back. We’re just going to be another strip along Alderpoint Road, and I think it’s heartbreaking.”
Tony Carvelli, manager of post office operations from San Francisco, read a prepared statement explaining the USPS’ official position on the proposed nation-wide closings and gave an overview of the feasibility study they are conducting to determine which offices will be closed. He reiterated several times that a decision has not been made yet about whether to close the Blocksburg post office. He cited a general drop in mail volume, revenue, and usage nationwide, but didn’t have specific numbers for Blocksburg on hand. As part of the feasibility study, residents were mailed a questionnaire last week, which needs to be returned by Sept. 1. Letters with additional comments and questions should also be submitted as soon as possible.
According to Carvelli, if the USPS decides to close the post office, route patrons would keep their zip code with mail being sorted in Alderpoint. For packages and certified mail, however, they would have to attempt to meet the route driver or make their way to Alderpoint to retrieve them. He suggested box holders could get their mail in Alderpoint, which, he said, has 120 available boxes for rent. Those in attendance were skeptical the Alderpoint office could handle the increased workload without incurring additional costs — such as hiring more employees.
Carvelli attempted to address community members’ questions and concerns as best he could. At the top of everyone’s list was the distance to Alderpoint combined with road conditions, inconvenience, and cost. One resident wanted to know what postal regulation determines acceptable distances to travel to retrieve one’s mail. Several people voiced concern for elderly neighbors and family members who would be unable to travel to Alderpoint on a regular basis.
“I am one of the elderly people,” said June Reger, whose family homesteaded a ranch here in the 1800s. “I am a veteran. We depend on this post office for our medicine. Mine comes from San Francisco. My brother’s comes from Fortuna. We call one day and it’s here the next day. We really depend on it. Alderpoint is too far, and we don’t drive.”
Additionally, several people expressed concern over the enormous mudslide at Dobbyn’s Creek and the possibility of a lengthy road closure.
Some residents were bewildered by the postal service’s suggestion that many services and products could be accessed online or through smart phones. Neither are viable options yet in this rugged country, where cell coverage is spotty and access to broadband internet services can be prohibitively expensive.
“This post office is a vital link — not just for the community — but for the community to relate to the world,” said Ann Forest.
A few people talked about how their home businesses might be affected by the post office closing.
“Property values out here would be affected by this because anyone with a home business wouldn’t choose an area where they had to drive 45 minutes to a post office,” said Les Herlyck.
Blocksburg has had a post office continuously since 1877 when the mail came in on horseback. In fact, it wasn’t even known as Blocksburg until the post office was established.
“Blocksburg is not a ghost town,” said Jim Lamport, who has been spearheading the campaign to save the post office. “Please don’t push us in that direction.”
Representatives from the US Postal Service will be here Aug. 23 at 5 pm to discuss the possible closure of our post office. They claim this isn’t a “done deal,” so please come if you can! It’s important we have a good turn out so they see immediately how much we care about keeping our post office and zip code. Tell your friends and family! Please invite everyone you can!
According to the letter they sent everyone, those of us with PO boxes will have to drive “the short distance” to Alderpoint to retrieve our mail. Additionally, the letter states that we can conveniently access the other postal products and services we require online or by using our “smart phones” — or at the local stores we frequent. We need to help them understand those aren’t viable solutions in this community.
The community ice cream social will be held at the Town Hall, behind the church and will start about 11am on Sunday, July 10. Come help crank the ice cream! Lunch is potluck. Please bring two dishes: hot dish, salad, or dessert. Coffee, punch, and lemon water are provided.
Auction to follow lunch. And as always, lots of laughs! If you have any donations for the auction, please bring them. Bring your friends and join the fun!
I would very much appreciate anyone from the Blocksburg town hall to contact me. I have many, many photos of my family and of some buildings of old Blocksburg that I would enjoy sharing. My father and family lived in Blocksburg and my father was born there. Please contact me.
Patricia Lee Andersen
The Town Hall awarded three $750 scholarships this year from the June Burgess Scholarship Fund. Recipients were Shawnee Windbigler, Caroline Fearrien, and Katlin Darnall. Nice going, gals!
The Crab Feed will be held Saturday, Feb. 12, at 2 pm. This is a members-only event ($15 a head), but it’s also not too late to become a member! Please RSVP no later Feb. 9 by contacting Cathie Burgess (we can’t print her number here, but you can find her in the phone book). Town Hall membership dues will…um…be due as well. It’s $12 a family or $6 for an individual. Such a deal!
If you are not German, you might not know that “Der Deutsche Platz” means “The German Place.” That’s what older folks like Vern Brightman, Frank Davis, Charlie Fitzell, Mel McLean, John and Fred Wittsche and others called the 160-acre ranch that brought John Liebforth to Humboldt County. John had immigrated from Germany and then traveled west across the United States to San Francisco to make his fortune. Later he headed north and bought the place from Abner Flint and Tennessee I. Perham on September 21, 1921.
This original homestead was settled by John C. Perham, who had gained title to it on August 25, 1903. It is believed to be the only original homestead parcel that is still in the area. When John’s health began to fail around 1950, he grant deeded the ranch to Gottlieb Ludwig “Louie,” a cousin, and Mina Gabler in 1952 as an act of his love and caring for the family who knew the ranch quite well. Louie died in 1986, but it is still owned by Mina and her family and has been visited frequently between spring and late fall since then. Continue reading
Description: The post office as it looked in 1916.