Rural town fears US Postal Service cuts

In the small town of Fork, South Carolina, the post office is more than just a place to send a package.

After the United States Postal Service announced that 2,000 of the 32,000 post offices across the country will be closing, many towns in rural America are waiting for a possible blow.

In the small town of Fork, South Carolina, the post office is more than just a place to send a package. It's a meeting ground, a place to see a familiar face, and a place to talk with a postmaster who knows your name.

For local grocery store owner Bobby Perritte, the post office keeps his business going.

"If we were to lose this place, that would be a huge blow to my business." Perritte says. "I get a lot of people coming from there to come here and a lot of people from here are on there way there."

The 29543 zip code assigned to Fork services about 800 people in the town, which sits between the cities of Dillon and Marion.

"A lot of older folks don't want to drive that far to send their mail." says Fork resident Leon Mason. He uses his post office box because he believes it keeps his mail safe.

"That way I know I can be sure it's going to get where I want it to go and nobody can mess with my mail that is not supposed to. It's important to me that it stays here." he says.

Harry Spratlin, Post Office Communications Coordinator for the Greater South Carolina District, says no plans nor direction have been given to him on exactly which post offices will close.

"What we know is that we are making a transition to shrink our infrastructure." says Spratlin. "Our headquarters have notified us that 2,000 post offices will close. All we are doing is studying each branch carefully."

He says there's a chance that none of the South Carolina post offices close, but they have to be ready to make the tough decisions if the time comes.

"It's always difficult to face change. We are not reacting impulsively. The Postal Service has been in a bad financial state for some time."

The post office collects no government subsidies. All revenue comes from postage, and with a 17% decrease in the last four years, Spratlin says the money is just not there. Less mail equals fewer dollars.

"America has shown us they are changing their business to the internet. When the Postal Service was first created, we were the only way to carry a message which allowed us to grow. Now there are tons of ways to get information across. We need to get smaller to survive."

However, survival for Perritte depends on the survival of his post office.

"The big cities don't know what the smaller communities have." Perritte says. "Our post office is everything to us. It's a place where we get together talk about issues that concern us."