Packed house at Friendship Post Office despite NMLRA Shoot

Kari Moore
Staff Writer

“I owe it to these people, this is a wonderful place to work,” Carol Iceberg, Friendship Postmaster told the Osgood Journal after the community held an informative meeting with Postal Service representatives Monday, September 12. The meeting was held at the Friendship Fire Hall and was well attended despite the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association Shoot going on.

Andrew Glancey, operations manager for Area 3 for the United States Postal Service (USPS) spoke with Friendship patrons about the Friendship Post Office being one of 3,700 post offices being reviewed for closure. Bob Redden, District Discontinuance Coordinator, would normally be the representative at the meeting, but was on vacation so Glancey took over for him.

A similar meeting was held in Pierceville in August for their post office review, with both Glancey and Redden in attendance.

Also in attendance at this meeting was Ken Schutte from the USPS marketing department. Schutte was documenting the meeting to put information into the official docket that will eventually be sent to Washington DC for review.

Keith Sieverding, a concerned Friendship community member, organized the meeting after several patrons had asked him to help save the post office. Sieverding told the crowd the meeting was a “fact finding mission” saying he understood that this would be very emotional for some of them and asked them to be respectful of everyone in the room.

Sieverding introduced community members and small business owners from Friendship that were attending the meeting.

Amy Thomas, executive director of the Ripley County Chamber of Commerce, and daughter of Postmaster Iceberg, was introduced and thanked everyone for attending the meting. “I probably don’t have to tell you how much my mom loves her job,” said Thomas. “Though losing her job would be a hardship, what worries my mom the most is that this town will be losing its identity. You are one village, one united community, and one Friendship.”

Gary Stutler, county commissioner and Friendship small business owner was also in attendance asking the USPS representatives to “listen to the people.”

Branch Manager, Chairman of the Board and many employees from the Friendship State Bank were also in attendance, along with representatives of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA) and a Friendship Village Association representative.

Barbara Levine, a National Championship Shoot jewelry vendor was in attendance at the meeting. Levine has been coming to Friendship every spring and fall for 29 years and using the post office. Although Levine is from Arizona she has a P.O. Box in Friendship. “I love Friendship,” explained Levine, “I’ve even considered moving here.”
The pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Dewberry described the Friendship Post Office as “kind of like a visitor’s center” and “a very vital part of the community.”

Before Glancey started speaking, Sieverding presented him with a petition of about seven and a half pages long of names from Friendship residents, small business owners, etc., which were unable to attend the meeting. The petition will be added to the docket and taken into consideration for review.

Glancey emphasized to the crowd at the beginning of the meeting and throughout the evening that “this is just a study” and that no decision has been made, the post office is under review for closure and this was an opportunity for the people of Friendship to voice their opinion. Survey’s were then passed out to any of those in attendance that did not receive the survey that was available at the post office or mailed out.

“Everybody needs to fill out these surveys,” said one Friendship resident. “If you have to brag a little, then brag!”

Glancey explained one reason for the reviews in Area 3, which is the 451-and 470- zip code areas, is the overall decrease in revenue. From the same period last year, revenue is down 34.2 percent, case volume (what carriers actually case) is down 14.6 percent and the customer service volume is down 13 percent. Basically, according to Glancey, the postal service is experiencing “significant trying times.”

At the end of the month, the USPS will have capped the $15 billion they have borrowed — which is their budget. Glancey explained that the USPS has had to prepay retirement and have a $5.5 billion payment due at the end of the month - which they don’t have. “By Congress, we’re enacted, we have to pay it,” said Glancey.

The 3,700 post offices on the initial list to be reviewed are not just post offices in small rural communities. Glancey explained that there are many larger offices on the list, including offices in Northern Kentucky. Centerville, Ohio, near Dayton, was an example of a large post office that has been closed. Although the initial list has some 3,700 post offices on the list, Glance explaind that the next list would have approximately 15,000 post offices on the list to go under the same review as the Friendship and Pierceville Post offices.

Glancey shared some options available to the community if the Friendship Post Office were to close, such as the new USPS app available on most smart phones, Click and Ship, and Stamps by Mail.

Another option available is the Village Post Office, which would operate as a store in town operated by someone in the community. The Village Post Office would offer Forever stamps and priority flat rate boxes. The Village Post Office does not have a postal run.

Before opening the meeting for questions, Glancey stressed again that “this is strictly a review.”

Many patrons questioned the reason for reviews of possible post office closures being solely revenue based. “The bottom line on this is it’s not solely revenue driven,” said Glancey. “But at the end of the day, we’re a comes down to revenue.”
“The major factors that put this post office on the list are reduction in work force and reduction in work volume coming in,” said Glancey.

Sieverding asked Glancey, ”What is necessary to stop this? You, (Glancey and Schutte) as a representative team from the USPS owe that to this community.” To which Glancey answered, “Unfortunately, I don’t have a solid answer for you.” Sieverding continued to pressure Glancey to give him an answer or names of people who could answer the question for him, and made sure that his question was entered into the docket that will be reviewed.

The Friendship Post Office building is rented through the Friendship State Bank. The bank has offered to forego the rent and utilities the post office is currently paying if USPS accepts their offer and if the Friendship Post Office remains open.

So what is the next step in moving forward with this review process?

After the meeting, new information and survey results will be added into the docket. The docket will then be sent to Washington DC for review by a review board made up of postal service employees. “It will be at least a six month process if everything goes as planned,” said Glancey. The process began September 1 when the docket was placed in the Friendship Post Office.

Glancey urged the crowd to speak with their state representatives about Five-Day Mail Delivery and their concerns about the post office facing possible closure.

Representative Randy Frye can be contacted via email at or by calling 1-800-382-9841, visiting or mailing to 200 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204. You can also call the State Information Center at 1-800-457-8283 or the Indiana House at 1-800-382-9841.

He also explained that anyone can speak with Bob Redden, District Discontinuance Coordinator, directly with questions concerning the review for possible closure at 513-684-5454.

Keith Sieverding passes out surveys to the crowd during the Friendship Post Office meeting on Monday, September 12. The Friendship Fire Hall was packed with concerned community members fighting for their post office.