When Colleen Raftis bought a building in the tiny Washington town of Nahcotta last year, it came with a historic post office staffed by two elderly women who took turns working three hours a day for $8.33 an hour. She says that when she asked the US Postal Service for more money for wages and upkeep of the post office, somebody told her they would get back to her—and within days, she was informed that the post office was being shut down, the Seattle Times reports. Raftis says that when she bought the building, the USPS had a contract to pay $4,000 for six months, which worked out to around $662 a month—barely enough to cover the low wages of Gretchen Goodson, 82, and Kathy Olson, 73. Raftis says the notice the contract was being terminated came as a complete surprise late last month and the two women only received one day's notice from the USPS.
Raftis says she told the USPS that around $1,200 a month would cover upkeep and better wages. The 132-year-old Nahcotta office had long been a community hub in the town of around 200 people. It was a "contract office" located inside another business—a now-closed bakery—and the USPS says such offices are meant to be a way for business owners "to bring additional customers into their place of business." But a "post office in a small rural community is not a business, it’s a service, it’s a lifeline, it’s a catalyst for community cohesion," Cate Gable wrote in her Chinook Observer column earlier this month. Her push to save the office may have succeeded: In her latest column, she writes that after US Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and local officials supported the campaign, the USPS said Sunday that it will open a "bidding process" to reinstate the office. (Read more post office stories.)