St. George • A Utah town is planning to replace the post office it lost earlier this year, but the effort is not expected to provide service before the national general election next month.
The Torrey Post Office closed at the start of the year after the owners failed to renegotiate a contract with the U.S. Postal Service, The Spectrum reported Tuesday.
Torrey obtained a loan to establish a new office, but construction will not be complete until at least Nov. 1 and the office is not expected to be fully functional until Nov. 14.
The nearest polling location and ballot drop-box for Torrey residents is 17 miles away in the county seat of Loa.
The loss of the Torrey post office was attributed primarily to debt. The postal service attempted unsuccessfully last year to find another retailer to host the office, Torrey Mayor Scott Chesnut said.
The postal service agreed to supply a postal worker if the residents took on the financial burden of building the branch office.
Republican state Sen. Ralph Okerlund, who represents Torrey, said he does not think the postal service grasps the need for an office in the community.
“The post office is trying to be as efficient as they can with funds, I understand that. But I don’t know if they understand how important rural post offices are,” Okerlund said.
The town of about 400 residents near Capitol Reef National Park has relied throughout the year on the post office in Bicknell, 8 miles away.
Torrey residents must visit the Bicknell office at specific times because there is not enough available space to provide them with post boxes.
“They’re holding the mail hostage,” Chesnut said. “I take time off work to get the mail. It does affect the working people.”
Chesnut said he is glad there will be a new Torrey post office, but he remains unsatisfied with the deal struck with the postal service.
“It’s a Band-Aid,” Chesnut said. “It’s either that or we go to Bicknell forever.”
Torrey’s new post office will not open before election /p>