If Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) has his way, perhaps a few rural post offices will not face the threat of closure.

If Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) has his way, perhaps a few rural post offices will not face the threat of closure.

The U.S. Postal Service is conducting a study that could lead to nearly 3,700 brick-and-mortar post offices across the nation closing. Moran introduced the Protecting Rural Post Offices Act (S.1668) to limit the scope of some of the potential closures.

The USPS study includes 134 post offices throughout Kansas that are at risk of closure, including Frontenac, Arcadia, Crestline, West Mineral, Hepler and others.

Moran’s bill would prevent the USPS from closing a post office in any rural town in which citizens would have to drive more than 10 miles to get to the nearest post office.

“This legislation is an important part of making certain rural America is not forgotten during the decision-making process in Washington,” Sen. Moran said in a release. “Because of local post offices, many small businesses can still keep their doors open in rural Kansas. And, for many senior citizens who no longer have the ability to drive long distances, it is the local post office that gives them a personal and business connection to the rest of the world.”

Lindsey Trent, a Moran spokesperson, said that the USPS has indicated that of the 134 post offices in Kansas on the closure study list, roughly 20 in the state could be affected by the proposed bill.

While many of those post offices are in western and northern Kansas, Hepler would fall into the list of 20 potentially affected towns. The Hepler post office is slightly more than 10 miles away from the nearest post office in Walnut.

Trent said she was unsure of the status of any other local post offices on the study list. Crestline, for instance, is within 10 miles of either Columbus or Riverton. Frontenac is close to Pittsburg, and West Mineral is close enough to Scammon to not qualify. Arcadia would be within striking distance of Mulberry.

Opolis would also be just within the 10-mile distance to Pittsburg, but would be even closer to Asbury, Mo.

There did seem to be confusion as to whether Walnut was considered the nearest post office for Hepler, as during a town meeting about the issue last month, Hepler residents were told some functions could move as far as St. Paul.

“Residents would now have to drive an hour to get to another post office. It’s unlikely someone in their 80s would do that, because it’s difficult to make journeys like that,” Trent said.

According to the Postal Regulatory Commission, maintaining rural post offices only amounts to 0.7 percent of the Postal Service’s budget, and a Moran press release indicated this showed that reducing service to local communities and senior citizens would not greatly improve USPS’s bottom line.

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 140.