Rough and Ready residents have fired another salvo in what some are calling the Second Rough and Ready Rebellion. The town that famously seceded from the Union for three months in 1850 gathered a crowd of approximately 100 people to demonstrate against the proposed closing of its small post office.
"Why pick on us?" asked Rough and Ready resident Cheryl McMillan, who went to the protest on Thursday. "It's my post office. I'm not going to Penn Valley or Grass Valley. It's not just a post office, it's history. We're trying to keep what we have left."
Ever since a proposal to consolidate the Rough and Ready post office with the newer one in Penn Valley came to light, residents have been signing a petition to keep the post office open.
The brouhaha has renewed public interest in the tiny community; Fruit Jar Picker Weldon Travis said the crowd Sunday for the popular bluegrass concert at the Opry Palace across the street from the Rough and Ready Market was the "biggest I'd seen in three years ... there were people from Sweden, even."
Rough and Ready Market owner B.J. Joachim has been mailing stacks of petitions to Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, to ask for the freshman congressman's help. Letters supporting the post office are also being sent to the postmaster general, John Potter.
Should the Rough and Ready post office close, Postal Service spokesman Gus Ruiz said it would not happen until after Oct. 1, when the 2009-10 federal fiscal year begins.
The Postal Service has faced several years of declining postal volume, Ruiz said. Its revenue also has declined. The Rough and Ready post office processes 7,735 pieces of mail per week and employs one clerk and one carrier. The Penn Valley post office processes roughly twice as many pieces of mail, with four clerks, 11 carriers and one postmaster.
But the Rough and Ready post office, which is open five days a week, is a nearly 100-year-old institution in town. Closing the facility would have a significant impact on businesses in town such as the Rough and Ready Market - and tourists would no longer receive a valid "Rough and Ready" stamp on their souvenir postcards.
For more information on protesting the closing of a post office, go online at www.auspl.com/beware.html.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4229.