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Politics & Government

Closing the UP's mail processing center could complicate simple tasks for the region

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Let's say you're running a national company and that company has lost $26 billion between 2011 and 2014.

What should you do? Find cost efficiencies? Streamline? Merge? Cut spending?

That's exactly what's happening with the United States Postal Service.

And as it struggles in that sea of red ink, post offices and mail processing centers are being closed.

Three processing centers in Michigan are on the hit list: one near Kalamazoo, a second one in Lansing and the third one in Kingsford, near Iron Mountain in the Upper Peninsula.

Kingsford's mail processing center serves the entire Upper Peninsula, and the city's manager and clerk, Anthony Edlebeck, is fighting to keep the mail processing center open.

Closing the center would mean losing 50 jobs, but Edlebeck says its impact would be even greater for the entire region.

Currently, mail within the Upper Peninsula is a one-day delivery. But if the Kingsford center is closed, Edlebeck says mail would have to be rerouted to Green Bay, Wisconsin, adding days of delay to time sensitive items.

Edlebeck says the region has community water sources that have to be tested often. Samples must frequently be sent to a lab in the Upper Peninsula and tested within 30 hours of being collected. They are typically sent through the postal service. A few days delay would eliminate this option.

This may cause residents to resort to FedEx or UPS, but Edelbeck says these drop-off sites are less frequent and would force people to travel further. Much of the region's population is located in rural areas without high speed internet and rely on USPS for paying their bills and filing their taxes.

Edlebeck says, "I fully understand the economic factors that the U.S. Postal Service is working on. And we're working on those same types of things in local government. We try to make things more efficient."

But he's concerned about how the closure could impact the region's economic growth.

Edelbeck says he has garnered support from the state’s senators. Gary Peters helped to introduce The Rural Postal Act of 2015. If passed it would delay the Kingsford closure by two years.

The center was initially slated to close in 2012 but Edelbeck is grateful it has continued to be delayed.

"We're hoping that at some point at least everyone's going to be aware of it and the proper action is going to be taken."

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