Save the Historic Ward Colorado Post Office

1863 Postal Delivery Re-enactment

Historic Colorado post office threatened: In Ward, Colorado, the group “Citizens to Save the Historic Ward Post Office” is protesting the way the Postal Service has been conducting the closing process.  They’ve complained that the USPS would not schedule the community meeting at a time when most customers would be able to attend, and when they asked for financial information about the post office, they were told they’d need to file an FOIA request.  The group says the Proposal to Study is filled with inaccuracies about the historic significance of the post office, the number of businesses and nonprofits in the area, and the disadvantages of proposed alternate service to customers — the nearest post office is a half-hour drive away on mountain roads.  “In essence,” says one member of the group, “the USPS has totally ignored the community, legislators, historic societies, as well as disregarding rights of citizens. . . This whole closing process is a SHAM.”
Please, Uncle Sam, don't take my post office away. It's small town Americana, PO Box USA. Song by: Becky Martinek Video: Arthur Bradley Grimm

New video from Becky Martinek, Arthur Bradley, and Ward folks.  Filmed October 25, 2011 after 3 feet of snow fell.

Recorded at KGNU studio, Boulder, Colorado in conjunction with a story for Morning Magazine by Maeve Conran.

Ward, Colorado Post Office, 2011

High in the Rocky Mountains

Ward, Colorado

                               Altitude 9,264'

Help Save the Historic Ward Post Office--Save an important Part of Colorado History

Click on the links below to send a message of support for the current status of the Ward Post Office

email Postal Regulatory Commission                                                             email Senator Marc Udall

email Senator Michael Bennett                                                                     email Congressman Jared Polis

Continue reading be

low for reasons to oppose the closing 
Breaking News:    Udall, Bennet Urge USPS to Consider the Effects of Post Office Closures on Rural Coloradans

Thank you US Congressman Polis for Co-Sponsoring this bill to avert a USPS financial crisis.

         National Register of Historic Places Ward Post Office

The Ward Post Office was established in 1863 when Colorado was still a Territory.  Mail was delivered by horseback or freight wagons pulled by horses, mule, or oxen.  It is the oldest continuously operating Post Office in the mountains of Boulder County.  

The Ward Post Office is 9,253 feet above sea level in the Indian Peaks of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder County, Colorado 

“It’s in the middle of nowhere surrounded by a national forest and just below a wilderness area . . .”

Located 50 miles northwest of Denver and 17 miles up Left Hand Canyon from Boulder, Ward is a small mountain community at the base of the Continental Divide.   The  next closest Post Office is in Nederland, a 30-mile round trip over the Peak to Peak Highway.

The Ward Post Postal Service area covers approximately 210 square miles and includes 400 local customers. Its zip code is 80481.


Winter. Left Hand Canyon, outside of Ward

see December Wind near Ward

Ward is located at the top of Left Hand Canyon and while surrounded by some of the most majestic scenery in the world, it is a remote, harsh environment in the winter.

Ward, Colorado - January

Many Ward Postal customers walk, ski, or snowshoe to the Post Office in the winter.

Many have no transportation or the 4-wheel drive vehicles that are required for safe travel over dangerous mountain roads in the winter to a Post Office in the next town.

Many elderly receive their medications, social security checks, and packages at the local Ward Post Office.  Rural box holders and local businesses depend on the local Post Office to mail and receive packages, send and receive priority mail, and to conduct their business.

Cell phone and internet service is not available in many areas of these mountains -- locals depend on the local Post Office for communication with the outside world and as a meeting place, community center and a place to view the Bulletin Board that contains local news and information (town meetings, lost dogs, wood for sale, an occasional job listing).

Georgia O'Keeffe plays into the history of the Ward Post Office.  She came to Ward in 1917 and painted landscapes and an oil painting, Ward, Church Bell?  She sent letters to Alfred Steiglitz, her future husband from the Ward Post Office.  She sent a letter through the Ward Post Office telling Amelia Schmoll how much she liked the Ward area and couldn't decide if she liked Ward or New Mexico best.


                     Georgia O'Keeffe, Ward Church Bell, 1917 

Support We Have Received

The  Ward Post Office is  a historical gem . . . it's the only Office between Estes Park and Blackhawk on the National Register of Historic Places.  

Colorado State Senator Claire Levy and State Representative Jeanne Nicholson have issued letters opposing the closing.

The Boulder Historical Society, Boulder County Commissioners, Boulder Historic Society, and the Carnegie Library for Local History have issued statements expressing concern about the US Postal Service plan to end service at this historic Post Office.  

13 petitions and 400 letters/cards opposing the closing have been send to our legislators and the US Postal Service by individuals, businesses, and groups including the Boy Scouts of America who operate Camp Tahosa, American Legion Post #32 members at the Beaver Reservoir Campground, Boys and Girls Clubs of Denver who operate the Gates Camp, the Phunstok Choling Buddhist Center, and the Seventh Day Adventist Glacier View Retreat and Conference Center, the Indian Peaks Fire Protection District, all in the Ward Postal Service area. 

Support has also come from individuals and businesses in Boulder, Gold Hill, Jamestown, Nederland, Allenspark, and Estes Park who value this important piece of mountain history and understand the hardships and environmental damage that would be created if current customers  were forced to drive to Nederland for their postal service.  

Please join in supporting the present status of our Post Office.

  • Please click on the e-mail links at the top of the page and support the current service at the Ward Post Office by writing a brief comment to the Postal Regulatory Commission.
  • Please email our US Senators and Congressman and ask them to respect this gem of Colorado history and specifically ask the Postal Service to continue providing full postal service at the Ward Post Office.
  • Take a drive or a bike ride up Left Hand Canyon to Ward, stop at the Post Office, buy a stamp or mail a letter, then enjoy  the beautiful Aspen trees in the Ward area.
  • If you have a business, bring a day's mail and mail it from the Ward Post Office.  

Take a look at our Post Office, our community -- our Union Congregational Church that was painted by Georgia O'Keeffe.  

We are unique --  we are different, but we are also part of you, of Colorado, of the historic West.  Help save the historic Ward Post Office.

                                                Thank you,

                                Citizens to Save the historic Ward Post Office


Why We No Longer Think of The Postal Service As A Service

           Money, Politics and the Great P.R. Campaign

"A Post Office is not a grocery store -- it is part of a complex infrastructure that belongs to the American people."

The U.S. Constitution in  mandated two things -- a standing army to defend citizens and a national postal service to provide mail service for them.  How quickly we forget . . .

Libraries, recreation centers, parks are considered "services" to communities.  We don't expect them to make money.  The National Park Service is just that -- a service provided to citizens.  We don't expect them to make a profit. We don't object that they are funded with our tax dollars. 

Why is the United States Postal Service now perceived as a business, like a Walmart -- and not the "service" that was Constitutionally mandated?   The US Postal Service receives no taxpayer dollars.  Why can Congress use our tax dollars to bail out big banks and even foreign banks and corporations -- yet insist that our Postal Service turn a profit or shut down "service" to the small communities that need it most 

Please take a look at some of the articles and links that examine the effects of money, politics and the great Postal Service P.R. campaign that has pulled the rug over our Constitution mandate for Postal Service to all citizens.

Need to Know -- The Real Cause of the Destruction of the Postal Service

A basic right at risk

In framing the U.S. Constitution, the founders recognized postal services as essential to the nation and listed post offices among the Powers Granted to Congress. Until 1970, the Post Office was a cabinet level Department.

In 1970, the Postal Reorganization Act restructured the post office as the United States Postal Service and stripped its standing as a Department. The reorganization law, nevertheless, reiterated the necessity of the post office “to bind together the Nation” and mandated an obligation to provide services to all communities.

Section 101 of the law specifically applies this universal service commitment to rural communities: “The Postal Service shall provide a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas, communities, and small towns where post offices are not self-sustaining. No small post office shall be closed solely for operating at a deficit, it being the specific intent of the Congress that effective postal services be insured to residents of both urban and rural communities.”

Things changed more dramatically in 2006 with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. That law, often cited as an attempt to break the post office “monopoly” (a term usually reserved for corporate enterprises), required the postal service to prepay health and pension benefits for postal employees.

Rural considerations

The idea of universal service recognizes that the participation of all people and all communities is necessary to a vibrant society and functioning democracy. It also recognizes that the costs of providing the basic services that enable participation are not the same in all places. In much the same way a shared-risk insurance pool spreads the costs of insurance among all members, universal service provisions in basic utilities like phone, electricity, and mail share the costs among all users. The post office remains today, as it has always been, an essential mechanism of democratic and economic participation and opportunity.

At a practical level, many rural communities have no local business able to provide even the limited services of a “Village Post Office.” That means whatever postal services are offered elsewhere, often dozens of miles away, will be out of reach of many local residents.

Further, the U. S. Post Office offers many essential services not available in retail outlets or the proposed Village Post Offices. For example, a post office provides users with a post office box, the only secure place that many residents can receive private correspondence, checks, packages, and medications — essential in communities without pharmacies. A post office also offers money orders and thus provides many low-income and elderly residents an essential financial service.

For many small rural businesses the drop-off and delivery services of a nearby post office are a necessary component of their ability to operate and make a profit.

Finally, the absence of broadband internet access in many rural communities makes the local post office the only reliable means available to local residents — regardless of age, income, or computer literacy — for taking care of their affairs.  

At a symbolic level, the post office is often the only remaining public institution in rural communities, the last bit of evidence that the community is recognized and valued by the government that represents it. When a post office is closed, residents lose a gathering place, a zip code, an official acknowledgement of their place, even their community’s name.

Post office closures threaten the viability of communities and offload the costs of a shared public enterprise onto local users, excluding individuals who can’t “pay.” The proposed closure of so many post offices represents a significant departure from a long-held American commitment to universal service in the public sphere.

Read more at Rural   

What's wrong with the Postal Service? How about what's wrong with the media?

excerpts from Assault on the Postal Service by Allison Kilkenny, Trouthout, News Analysis

The Postal Service, which is older than the Constitution itself, stands at a precipice. If this great institution, which provides one of the oldest, most reliable services in the country, is permitted to fall and Congress kills its great union, then truly no collective bargaining rights, no worker contract, no union will be safe within the United States.

As the USPS spirals toward default, the historically uncontroversial mail service system has suddenly become a hot-button issue. It's an unlikely organization to inspire such hysteria. The Postal Service isn't paid for by taxpayer dollars, but rather fully funded by the sale of stamps. It's easy to forget what a marvel this is - that today, in 2011, one can still mail a letter clear across the country for less than 50 cents. And if the impressiveness of that feat still hasn't sunk in, attempt this brain exercise: consider what else you can buy for $0.44.

It was only a few years ago that the USPS was considered not only stable, but thriving. The biggest volume in pieces of mail handled by the Postal Service in its 236-year history was in 2006. The second and third busiest years were in 2005 and 2007, respectively. But it was two events: one crafted during the Bush years and another supervised by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, that would cripple this once great institution.

Perhaps it was its booming history that first drew Congress' attention to the Postal Service in 2006 when it passed the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act (PAEA), which mandated that the Postal Service would have to fully fund retiree health benefits for future retirees. That's right. Congress was demanding universal health care coverage.

But it even went beyond that. Congress was mandating coverage for future human beings.

"It's almost hard to comprehend what they're talking about, but basically they said that the Postal Service would have to fully fund future retirees' health benefits for the next 75 years and they would have to do it within a ten-year window," says Chuck Zlatkin, political director of the New York Metro Area Postal Union.

It was an impossible order, and strangely, a task unshared by any other government service, agency, corporation or organization within the United States. The act meant that every September 30th, the USPS had to cough up $5.5 billion to the Treasury for the pre-funding of future retirees' health benefits, meaning the Postal Service pays for employees 75 years into the future. The USPS is funding the retirement packages of people who haven't even been born yet.

The hopeless task was made even more daunting when Wall Street blew up the world's economies. It was this, and not the invention of email, that became the Postal Service's death knell. Zlatkin finds the whole "blame it on the Internet" excuse amusing. The Internet had already existed for quite a while in 2006, the USPS's busiest year, not to mention that every item purchased on Amazon and eBay - every piece of information addressed to stockholders and bank customers - still needs to be snail mailed, which is enough volume to keep the Postal Service prosperous.

"I've yet to figure out a way to mail a shirt through a computer," he chuckles.

When Wall Street's derivatives gamble blew up the country, businesses slowed their operations during the recession and, as such, the Postal Service was no longer handling historically high volumes of mail. The boom was over and the death spiral began.

At the same time, the USPS was bleeding money by overpaying into worker pension funds. An audit done by the Postal Service's Office of Inspector General came up with the figure of $75 billion in pension overpayments. Then, the Postal Regulatory Commission, an independent agency that actually received more autonomous power under PAEA, commissioned its own independent audit. The commission placed the overpayment at $50 billion.

Taking these figures into consideration, the projected $9 billion deficit the USPS now faces seems like chump change that could easily be corrected with some minor accounting tweaks.

"You could actually transfer over payment from the pension funds to the healthcare retirement funds," says Zlatkin. "And it wouldn't cost taxpayers a single penny."

H.R. 1351, the United States Postal Service Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011, is a piece of legislation sponsored by Massachusetts Congressman Stephen Lynch. The act calls for the Office of Personal Management to do the definitive audit, come up with the actual figure of overpayment and then apply that to the ridiculous system of prepayment funding expenses. The Postal Service would then have that $5.5 billion a year to use for running its services and improving mail delivery.

This would eliminate the need to terminate Saturday mail delivery service, close down mail processing centers and there would be no need to lay off 120,000 workers (the Postal Service work force has already been reduced through attrition by over 100,000 employees over the last four years).

But there are political opponents that have no desire to see the USPS survive what is, for all intents and purposes, a stupid accounting maneuver. Namely, the GOP and moderate Democrats were the players behind the PAEA, and are now the same forces peddling the narrative that the Postal Service is broke, the union too demanding and the only solution is cuts, cuts and, oh yes, more cuts. (and eventually privatization)

Side note: It's interesting to hear the GOP refer to the Postal Service as if it's a business rather than an entity that provides a public service. The Postal Service is not designed to churn profits.

Guess how they convinced up all -- see the PR firm below.

We have paid for the rope they are going to hang us with . . .

McKinsey & Company, the global management consulting firm, was hired by the USPS to help produce “Ensuring a Viable Post Service for America: An Action Plan for the Future” (2010), a USPS plan to close post offices.  The company's reputation took a hit after its report on the Obama health care plan was accused of being biased. (TPM)  The McKinsey website says, "We support our clients as they position themselves to meet regulatory requirements and accompany them on the road to successful privatization."  (More here.)

See also They're Coming for Your Post Office.

Post office makes a profit Congress won’t let it keep

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Robin Beres’ Commentary column eloquently discussed the value of the U.S. Postal Service but incompletely depicted its financial status. Let me provide some context about an agency that doesn’t use a dime of taxpayer money and hasn’t for more than a quarter-century. Its revenue comes from selling its products and services.

USPS financial problems have little to do with delivering the mail. In the four fiscal years since 2007, despite the worst recession in 80 years, despite Internet diversion, revenues from postal operations exceeded costs by $611 million.

The problem lies elsewhere: the 2006 congressional mandate that the USPS pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years, and do so within a decade — an obligation no other public agency or private firm faces. The more than $5 billion annual payments since 2007 — $21 billion total — are the difference between a positive and negative ledger. That’s the elephant in the room . . . not Saturday mail delivery, not labor costs — which have been declining for years. Postal management has consistently praised the unions for their cooperation.

Remove this onerous pre-funding and the Postal Service would have been profitable even during this economic downturn. But we’re not even asking that it be removed. What USPS management, unions and key Republican and Democratic legislators seek is to let the Postal Service stop depleting its operating funds to make these payments and instead allow an internal transfer of funds from its pension surpluses. This transfer, with zero taxpayer involvement, would leave pensions and retiree health benefits fully funded while restoring the USPS budget to financial soundness.

While waiting for Congress to act, letter carriers will continue the dedication that has led the country to name us the most-trusted federal workers six years in a row.

Fredric Rolando,
President, National Association of Letter Carriers

More information about our fight to Save the Historic Post Office


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