ARIPEKA — Mail service for this tiny, coastal village will return this month just as suddenly as it halted now that the U.S. Postal Service has negotiated a new lease for the old post office.
Lifelong resident Carl Norfleet, who bought the post office property from his cousin this month, said the new lease takes effect Friday. “It’s a done deal,” he said.
Aripeka residents have been fighting to reopen the post office since the postal service vacated the 50-year-old building Sept. 13. For the last six weeks, they have had to drive 14 miles round-trip on U.S. 19 to the Hudson post office to get their mail.
“We used to get our mail every day,” resident Karen Smith said. “But now people just go once or twice a week. Everywhere I went, when people found out I was from Aripeka, they asked me about the post office.”
She praised Norfleet, who “spent a good chunk of his retirement money” to buy the property.
“I don’t deserve any accolades,” Norfleet said. “This was a community effort. There were a lot of people who worked harder than me. All I did was throw a little bit of money on the table.”
Postal service spokeswoman Enola Rice said the agency was happy to get a signed lease. “We are moving through the process as quickly as possible and expect to have the post office open in mid-November.”
The lease expires in 2018. Norfleet said the agency opted against an automatic renewal, but officials said they would contact him in four years to discuss that.
“They take possession of the building (Friday),” Norfleet said. “I already painted it. They have to return the P.O. boxes, but I think they have them in storage. I think they want to open as soon as possible — this post office actually makes money.”