Lecompton — A clear solution eludes Lecompton residents seeking to keep the town's post office.
Lecompton Mayor Sandy Jacquot stood before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 during an hour-long meeting Saturday and encouraged residents to write the U.S. Postal Service and state government officials.
“At this point in the process we don’t have a specific legal remedy of which I’m aware,” Jacquot said. “We are where we are.”
That didn’t stop Jacquot from drafting a letter of her own that criticized the postal service’s practice of basing future hours of operation on present hours of contact with customers — after the office’s hours were reduced to 21 and a half per week in 2012 — as “a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Now open just four hours per weekday and 90 minutes on Saturday, Lecompton’s post office was one of 13,000 whose hours were cut in May 2012 to save money. And should the town lose its post office, it may also lose its zip code, meaning mail would likely be addressed to Perry.
“It would be strange to say come visit Lecompton Constitution Hall in Perry, Kansas,” City Council member Elsie Middleton said.
A common theme voiced by Jacquot and others is Lecompton’s historical significance: It was declared the capital of the Kansas Territory in 1855 and a nationally significant 1857 Constitution Hall sent a pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution into the national debate.
On Saturday, Jacquot expressed frustration with the postal service’s inability to direct her to a specific person to voice her concerns. So far the only person willing to address her directly, she said, deals with requests for information. “And our problem isn’t that we need more information,” she said, “our problem is we need more action.”
Also in attendance Saturday were state Sen. Anthony Hensley of Topeka and Sen. Marci Francisco of Lawrence, as well as staff members from the offices of other government officials. Bill Rowe, district director for U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, said he knew of no other community as active as Lecompton in preserving its post office, something he believes will help keep one in place.
“(Closure) is very unlikely from my assessment because of your diligence — which has set you apart,” Rowe said.
Meanwhile, Lecompton’s 2012 profit of $17,500 — according to information obtained from Sen. Jerry Moran’s office — was unusual for a community of its size, Rowe said.
Tammy Morris, who joined Lecompton’s post office in November, said fulfilling her job requirements while maintaining the face-to-face contact the postal service is analyzing has proven difficult.
“Any time I spend with customers takes away from getting my work done,” she said.