If Post Office Closes Tiny Town Would Be Down To One Storefront

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The U.S. Postal Service is looking to close as many as 3,700 branches around the country to make up for revenue lost mainly to the free Internet. The post office in the once-thriving village of Magnetic Springs in Union County, famously known for its healing waters, is on the possible closure list.(Photo: Mandie Trimble / WOSU)
The U.S. Postal Service is looking to close as many as 3,700 branches around the country to make up for revenue lost mainly to the free Internet. The post office in the once-thriving village of Magnetic Springs in Union County, famously known for its healing waters, is on the possible closure list.(Photo: Mandie Trimble / WOSU)

The U.S. Postal Service is looking to close as many as 3,700 branches around the country to make up for revenue lost mainly to the free Internet. The post office in the once-thriving village of Magnetic Springs in Union County, famously known for its healing waters, is on the possible closure list. Community members feel losing the service would be just another hit to the already struggling town.

Magnetic Springs: it’s a tiny village about 15 miles northeast of Marysville. Only 350 people live there. There’s not much there: a lot of rental properties, a tavern that operates more like a general store and lunch counter, boarded up buildings; but it has a post office.

“Magnetic Springs, Terri speaking.”

“That was a call from a customer wanting to know who to contact because they’re very concerned about the closing of the post office,” Terri Dorn said.

Dorn is the post master. Dorn said if the post office closes, townspeople would have to go to one of the three cities, Richwood, Marysville or Delaware, to get service. It’s a 30-mile round trip.

“It’s an older community. I mean, we have people unemployed and people who don’t have transportation and they have to rely on someone to take them to do their little errands,” Dorn said.

There’s no rural carrier in Magnetic Springs, so there are no mail boxes. Jim Cox, who owns the town’s handyman business, stopped by to check his P.O. Box.

“It’d be an inconvenience. We’d have to go to Richwood or Marysville to get stamps or things like that. It’s just a very convenient aspect of the town,” Cox said.

An Ohio Historical marker paints a picture of a once-bustling village with out-of-towners who took dips in the mineral springs. The spring water was said to provide medicinal relief to ailments like arthritis, gout and insomnia.

Post Master Dorn gives a quick tour of the town’s main street, much of it is boarded up and vacant.

“The building across the street is one of the original hotels that provided the massages with the magnetic springs’ youth water. There used to be approximately three to four saloons in the heyday. And the last one’s called Hiney’s Saloon,” she noted.

“My name is Jeannette Jones. I own Hiney’s Saloon. Hiney’s winery. I’ve owned it for 45 years. We had big nursing homes and we had boarding houses and all kinds of stuff.”

One of the town’s hotels was converted into the Magnetic Spring Polio Clinic. But it closed after the Polio vaccine became available in the 1950s. That’s when the town began to decline.

“All our stuff’s gone that was here,” Jones said, expect for the saloon and the post office.

Jones’ daughter, Jodie Jones, said if the post office closes it will be difficult for the town’s elderly and poor to get their mail.

“A lot of people here are stuck in the town. They can’t get out and they depend on other people to help,” Jodie Jones said.

Magnetic Springs Mayor Kathy Cantrell said the town struggles. It operates on about $20,000 a year. The board of elections recently pulled the village’s polling place. The volunteer fire station shut down.

“To take one more thing away from us, they might as well just slap us in the face and tell us to close shop,” Cantrell said.

U.S. Postal Service spokesman David Walton stressed that Magnetic Springs’ post office is just being reviewed for closure. He said there will be time for public input.

And the village would have other options to get its mail, including the possibility of a Village Post Office. That’s where a local business owner would offer postal products like stamps, flat-rate packages and P.O. Boxes. Hiney’s Saloon and Postal Service? It’s possible.

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