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Public Forum Held at UI About Possible Postal Service Closures

The days could be numbered for more than 30 postal service facilities in Champaign County.

The U.S. Postal Service has been holding a series of public forums about post offices and stations that may shut down in an effort to close a $10 billion budget deficit.

About 40 people attended a meeting Tuesday night on the University of Illinois campus to defend two of them - one station located at 302 East Green Street in Champaign, and another in the U of I's Altgeld Hall.

Retired U of I employee Margrith Mistry showed up to the meeting, urging the postal service to keep these facilities open. Because of their proximity to campus, Mistry said these stations are a valuable resource to international students who attend the university.

"I think with all the international students in there sending very expensive packages home to Korea, China, or somewhere," Mistry said. "It must be a gold mind. So, I just can't understand how they could think of closing that."

Scott Fraundorf, a graduate student at the U of I, said he has been using both stations at different times over the last five years. He said without them, it wouldn't be possible for him to visit a post office because of his busy schedule.

"I often work late either on my research or helping out the students that I'm teaching," Fraundorf said. "I don't have time to go home, and then drive off to the post office. It's really unfortunate that at a time when everyone is trying to save fuel, we'd now be faced with a situation where he would have to drive out somewhere to get to a post office."

Moderating the discussion was Mike Pfundstein, who manages nearly 130 post offices in east central Illinois. In total, he said the U.S. postal service is considering closing 3,700 of its facilities across the country.

"We've never had a proposal to close that many post offices," he said. "Usually, they are considered individually based upon local factors. This is the first time we've looked at closing post offices based on wide spread criteria."

Pfundstein said as the postal service decides which facilities to close; it will look at the amount of business each one gets and whether there are other mail distribution alternatives located nearby. He said post offices could begin closing early next year.

If the service stations in Champaign-Urbana end up shutting down, both cities would still have a downtown post office.

Categories: Business, Economics