Postal Service shuts doors of downtown contract office

Service hopes to open another downtown contract station before Christmas, official says

Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2004

U.S. Postal Service officials began meeting Friday afternoon to begin the process of replacing the Franklin Street station, which was shut down Wednesday, said a postal spokesman in Colorado.

"We realize its importance, and we are actively working to get a replacement station," said Al DeSarro, a spokesman for the service's 15-state western region, based in Denver.

He said the office, which was run under a contract with the Postal Service, was closed "pending an investigation. We did an audit. We can't reveal the results."

The post office at 127 S. Franklin St., in a suite on the ground floor of the building that houses the Gastineau Apartments, was important to the area, said Vicky Johnson, who works in a shop across the hall.

That building alone has 42 elderly or handicapped tenants who depend on it, she said.

A hand-written sign taped to the inside of the glass door of the contract station early Friday directed people to the post office on the ground floor of the Federal Building on West Ninth Street.

Juneau Postmaster Kent Eriksen said the Mendenhall Valley branch, where his office is located, has been getting questions about the contract office, but he didn't know anything.

By the end of the day, postal-related equipment and fixtures had been removed from the Franklin Street station.

DeSarro said the contract station has been at the site since 1998 and has been operated by Todd Dubs since November 1999.

The Empire could not locate Dubs. But the first person to operate the contract at that location said he thought Dubs was doing a good job.

"They put contractors in an impossible position," said Ken Perkins, who questioned the audits he said led him to lose his contract. "They don't listen to their contractors."

Although DeSarro said he could not comment on specifics of the investigation, he said audits include a range of operational issues.

"We look at all of the (financial) books, but it also involves the running of the station. It also covers security, record keeping and how the station is run," he said.

DeSarro said the audit could find nothing wrong, but it was determined that the office should be shut down during the process. The postal service is reviewing contract stations nationwide for their cost-effectiveness, and there have been closures, he added.

Perkins said a post office is needed there.

"It will be missed," he said.

DeSarro said postal authorities are hoping to get a new contract station open downtown by Christmas.

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