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Lake George fights to keep post office

Joyce Harvey wants the best for her community. Right now, that means she is fighting to keep the Lake George Township Post Office in operation.

The post office is one of about 3,600 locations nationwide that is being studied by the United States Postal Service for potential closing.

Harvey, the Lake George Township Clerk, says members of the community, especially senior citizens who get medication through the mail, use the post office on a regular basis.

If the post office closes, life for residents of the small township becomes a little more difficult. The next closest post office is in Laporte, 13 miles away.

"People are going to have to rely on the mail carrier," Harvey said. "As far as packages go, they will have to go to other towns."

Most offices under consideration are located in rural areas, like the Lake George office in Hubbard County, and have low activity.

A community meeting to discuss the future of the Lake George Township Post Office in Hubbard County will start at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Lake George Town Hall.

In late July, it was announced that the Lake George Township post office was part of the study.

In August, the Lake George Town Board sent letters to their senators, representatives and local government officials to protest the possible closure.

According to the USPS, certain regulations based on federal law apply when postal managers propose to replace a post office with an alternate form of postal service.

A 60-day public notice of proposal and invitation for customer comments completes the first step in the process. Written response to customer comments, and review by lower and senior level management take place before a public notice of the final decision is given.

"We work with people as best we can to clarify what will happen," Peter Nowacki, a spokesman for the USPS, said.

One alternative to complete closure is to make a transition from the current post office to a village post office, a new concept by the USPS. A village post office is operated by a community retailer that provides select postal products and services.

This option allows USPS to provide service to the community without necessarily having an employee. It also brings benefits to the customer, community and the small business that operates the village post office.

A village post office would come with expanded hours and weekend service, while maintaining the ZIP code and postal presence in Lake George Township. The small business that operates it would also benefit from added foot traffic and greater sales.

The post office in Lake George Township is also one of the smallest in the United States. It looks like a tiny, log cabin, something Harvey says adds to the charm of the community.

"People are always stopping by and taking photos during their vacations," Harvey said. "You know that they get a lot of business because all the mailboxes are rented and there are even mailboxes outside."

Other area post offices being studied by the USPS are located in Hines, Squaw Lake, Lengby, Naytahwaush and Ponsford.