Yemassee's post office problem gets temporary fix

emoody@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 23, 2013 

postoffice

Pictured is the mobile U.S. Post Office stationed at Yemassee's Town Hall parking lot on Monday afternoon. The temporary solution allows residents to stay in town rather than drive to the nearest facility in Early Branch, about 5 miles away. The town's post office, which was leased, closed because of mold and other problems.

ERIN MOODY — Staff photo Buy Photo

A temporary solution has been found to a long-term problem for those in Yemassee upset by the closing of the town's U.S. Post Office.

A mobile post office, like the ones used after disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, has been placed in the Town Hall parking lot, at 101 Town Circle.

The office at 27 Salkehatchie Road has been closed since December, when mold and other problems were discovered. The lease of that building expires next Monday, and the Postal Service seeks a location because the building's owner is not interested in renewing the lease, Postal Service spokesman Harry Spratlin said.

Hampton County records show the post office is owned by Magdovitz Agency Inc.. Attempts to reach the company Monday were unsuccessful.

Until a few weeks ago, Yemassee residents who had business with the post office that needed to be conducted in person had to use the next closest facility, about five miles away in Early Branch.

The commute wasn't working, Mayor J.L. Goodwin said.

"It's a 10-mile roundtrip," he said. "We have a lot of the elderly folks who don't have transportation, and it's difficult to get up there."

Spratlin said the mobile office was brought in because residents and public officials, including Rep. Bill Bowers, D-Hampton, were upset by the inconvenience.

The mobile office is a van with sides that roll up, and it handles all the basic functions of a brick-and-mortar office, such as mailing packages and providing mailing material, according to Goodwin.

"It's not as good as walking into the regular post office, but it beats having to drive five miles to another town to get to one," he said.

Until late June, all post offices with ZIP codes starting with the digits "299" were managed by the Florida branch of the Postal Service. The Columbia-based South Carolina branch has since taken over.

Spratlin said he received complaints even before the change, and his office worked quickly to find a temporary solution once it became its jurisdiction.

It's not clear how long the mobile post office will be used or when a permanent location will be selected, Spratlin said. The Postal Service has to follow requirements and policies for securing property, and that takes time.

"It is a very complex undertaking, and the whole purpose is to get the very best building possible and to communicate with the public and with the real estate market," he said.

One of the goals is to secure a property that can be used for at least 10 years, he said. Whether that will be the historic and recently renovated Yemassee Depot, as some residents and the Yemassee Revitalization Corp. have petitioned, or another location also is to be determined. The Postal Service must go through an open bidding process, Spratlin said.

"It is a nice facility," he said. "I'm sure it will be on the list of possibilities."

The mobile post office is open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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