The closed and empty Stumpy Point Post Office.

Residents now worry about zip code change

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The closed and empty Stumpy Point Post Office.

The closed and empty Stumpy Point Post Office.

The sudden closing of the Stumpy Point Post Office on Oct. 27 has angered some residents, who say they feel that a piece of their tight-knit community has been lost. And, with reports that some credit card purchases have been declined since that closing, they voice serious concern that the Stumpy Point zip code might be changed as well.

      Stumpy Point resident Jeff Griffith said he is saddened at the disappearance of another facet of a "quaint" community, adding that, "We don't want to lose our zip code, because we don't want to lose our identity. I had lots of friends who really liked seeing that 'Stumpy Point' stamp on my letters."

      Another resident, Sheila Golden, recalled that the post office once functioned as “a gathering place in the village. Everybody knew that the mail came in at ten or ten-thirty and everybody went to the post office at the same time. And it was there you found out what was going on with your neighbors, who was sick and who died, and the whole works."     

      In response to a Sentinel inquiry, U.S. Postal Service spokesman Philip Bogenberger sent an email that stated simply: "The Stumpy Point Post Office suspended operations on Oct. 27. PO Box customers were notified via letter." Bogenberger did not offer reasons for the closing of the facility that was only open for a small part of the day. But he said that "home delivery remains available for Stumpy Point customers.”

      Amid speculation that the village's zip code would be changed and that other area post offices might be closed, including the Wanchese Post Office, Bogenberger added that the "Postal Service does not plan to change the Stumpy Point Zip Code or to suspend operations in any other Post Office in or around Dare County."

      Aside from the actual closing, some residents of the unincorporated Dare County community criticized the way the Postal Service handled that decision. "This was not done very professionally," Griffith said. "It was less than a week before the date they were closing it that I received my letter telling me that my post office box was going to be gone and I had to put up a box outside my house." Golden said she only learned of the closure by hearing from the remaining box holders.

      Stumpy Point had lived through something like this before. Their post office was slated to close about 10 years ago, and another resident, Sandy Semans Ross, recalled that, after being told then that P.O. boxes would no longer be available, most residents went ahead and got route boxes.

      "They also told us our zip code wouldn't change," Ross recounted. But "suddenly we were all having problems using credit cards and debit cards." Golden said the worst impact was that "all of a sudden all of our bills were being returned to the sender.”

      Ross said she learned that a company based in Mississippi that provided software for the credit cards was responsible for an error indicating that the users lived in Manns Harbor and declining the cards. The situation was resolved several months later, after the Post Office informed that company of their error, she said.

      Ross also stated that, at that point, residents raised an outcry that resulted in the decision to keep the post office open, but the Postal Service then started staffing the post office for just one hour a day, with no regular schedule established,

      Golden said her primary concern about losing the post office — and with it, she fears, Stumpy Point's own zip code — is that "I do not want to be a rural route to Manns Harbor." Griffith said he has already begun encountering problems with his credit card being declined in the past few days. Golden reported that one of her recent credit card purchases had been denied due to an "invalid credit card address" when she entered her zip code.

      Golden told the Sentinel she is requesting a letter from the U.S. Postmaster General guaranteeing that there will be no change to the Stumpy Point zip code.

      "One thing we will fight and have to fight for is keeping our zip code,” she asserted. “If we have a new Postmaster General every year for the next twenty years, every one of them has to know that our zip code — 27978 — stays."   

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Editor, Outer Banks Sentinel

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