PASSADUMKEAG, Maine — Maine became a state in 1820 and Passadumkeag had its post office in 1826. That, as much as anything, is why Terry McGrath wants to keep the post office from closing next year.
The 69-year-old retired antiques auctioneer and postal worker is holding a meeting at the town office at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to rally residents to save the post office. A closure, he said, would constitute a hardship for the town’s elderly and disabled residents and cost town officials about $1,000 a year in travel costs taking town correspondence to the nearest post office, in Enfield.
“I appreciate history and I think it is important. Once you put the key in the door and close it, that’s the end of it. I don’t like to see that,” McGrath said Tuesday.
Federal officials are considering closing 30 branches in Maine among about 3,700 of its branches slated for closure across the country to save an estimated $200 million. The Postal Service has cut 110,000 jobs and reduced costs by $11 billion since 2008 but needs to offset a projected deficit of $8.3 billion this year.
Thirty-four offices in Maine were originally on the closure list but post office leaders restored four because they could not find a more cost-effective means of providing service, officials have said.
In some ways Passadumkeag resembles Kingman, another tiny northern Penobscot County town where residents are working to save a post office branch. Passadumkeag has a population of 431 people, according to the most recent census data, borders the Penobscot River and is about a dozen miles south of Lincoln.
The post office, McGrath said, is one of the few things left that holds the town together.
“We have lost our school, the grange just went belly-up, and now this,” McGrath said. “They just keep picking at the fiber of these little towns and pretty soon you just have a collection of buildings. I just hate to see those things lost.”
Federal officials could keep the post office open, employ route carriers to handle mail, sell stamps and other postal goods, or contract postal services through a local business or government office.
McGrath has 173 signatures on a petition to save the post office. He encouraged town leaders and residents to attend Tuesday’s meeting.