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Four Corners Post Office Stays Closed for Repairs



Thursday, December 24, 2015
Hartland — A week after the Four Corners Post Office closed its doors, the building on Route 12 still is shuttered and will remain that way until its owner can remedy a list of safety concerns, according U.S. Postal Service spokesman Steve Doherty.

The part-time post office branch ceased operations on Dec. 16, after a postal safety team inspected the building and “found several safety and sanitation items that needed to be addressed,” Doherty wrote in an email on Wednesday.

“The landlord was presented with a list and the decision was made, out of an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our employees and customers, to move the facility until items are addressed,” he wrote.

Although Doherty declined to cite the Postal Service’s specific concerns about the building, owner Gloria Hammond recently told the Vermont Standard that she rarely checks on the building because of her full-time job in Springfield, Vt. She’s since spent about $1,500 hiring a pest control company, replacing a toilet, installing an emergency exit window and patching holes.

Hammond also told the Standard repairs still are needed in the ceiling, where there was rat feces in the insulation, and a low-hanging wire must be fixed to meet Postal Service standards.

Hammond did not respond to several calls and emails left on Tuesday and Wednesday. She’s also filed an Act 250 application that, if approved, would allow her to build a second story on the property to be used as an apartment.

Doherty wrote in his email that the Postal Service doesn’t have a timetable established to reopen the branch. Outside the building on Wednesday, a mail collection box was wrapped in green cellophane and fliers left on the door and window instruct patrons to use the Hartland Post Office, located on Route 5 in the Three Corners section of town.

While the Hartland Post Office only is 1.3 miles away from the Four Corners, limited parking and a difficult-to-navigate intersection makes going there a hassle, said Chris Files, owner of Christine’s Bridal on Route 12. She is a patron of the Four Corners Post Office and has separate post office boxes for both business and personal use.

Files said the Three Corners branch doesn’t have enough parking to manage its current customers and the 84 additional people it took on when the Four Corners branch closed. Although the staff is efficient, Files said, she also has to contend with the busy holiday season and a small lobby.

“Personally, I don’t look forward to going to pick up the mail,” Files said.

She’s also concerned that the Four Corners Post Office will never reopen. About a year ago, residents were given a survey asking what level of service they need from the branch, and responses led to the four-hour daily schedule it operated on.

Files fears the closing, coupled with the survey, could signal the end of branch service in her neighborhood. The Postal Service says it intends to restore service once its safety concerns are fixed.

“This isn’t intended to be permanent,” Doherty said in an interview on Wednesday.

Some residents say they miss the personal service offered at the Four Corners branch.

Susan Motschman, co-owner of Sugarland Farm on Weed Road, said her husband usually takes 15-20 maple sugar mail orders to the post office daily during the holiday season. She said they’ve both come to appreciate the advice and accommodating manner that the employees always greeted them with.

The Motschmans now find themselves using the Hartland Post Office, where they are experiencing longer lines.

“We really like the Four Corners post office,” Motschman said. “If they reopen, we’ll definitely be using them.”

A Hartland woman last week accused of stealing gift cards from mail at the Meriden Post Office also worked as a “flexible” part-time employee at the Hartland Four Corners Post Office. Police leveled four charges against Kim Smith, 50, for allegedly taking $920 in gift cards and $200 in cash from residents’ mail in November. Although police said the postal service is investigating a theft at the Hartland Four Corners post office, no charges have been filed, and Doherty said the branch’s closing is unrelated to the criminal investigation.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.