On Friday, Oct. 5, U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employees cleaned out a 10 foot by 10 foot room at the Pacesetting Times newspaper, which had served as the city's post office for the past seven years.
"It was a difficult decision," Karen Sherrell said. "I have provided service because convenient post office services are needed here (in Horseshoe Bend), but it was definitely not a moneymaker."
Sherrell, the owner of the Pacesetting Times, has offered postal services through a contract with the USPS since 2005.
"Our first contract was to provide services for $8,400 a year," Sherrell said. "That is still what I am paid today, even though the cost of about everything has gone up in eight years. I asked for an increase in the second year, but it was denied."
For $8,400, Sherrell provided the space for the post office, paid utilities and employees and bought supplies, such as tape, to help people prepare packages for mailing.
"We used to do about $110,000 in business a year, when we were open full time hours. But, figuring expenses in, we were subsidizing the operation by about $3,000, so we cut back to part-time hours a few years ago, but we still we not breaking even," Sherrell said.
According to Sherrell, she is working to expand her newspaper business, and finally decided she needed to devote her money and time to the business which is profitable.
"It was a tough decision. I thought about it a long time, because many people in the community used the service, especially our retirees, and we enjoyed helping them," Sherrell said.
While Sherrell discussed her exit from offering post office services, customers were still dropping by for stamps and other needs, not realizing the post office had closed.
"People are saddened. I've had a lot of them thanking me for staying open as long as I did," Sherrell said.
The Franklin Post Office, which is about four and a half miles away, is the post office that has actually provided mail delivery to Horseshoe Bend. It is open Monday through Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.
Residents can buy stamps at FNBC in Horseshoe Bend, and Pacesetting Times will continue to offer packaging tape, envelopes. photocopying and faxing services.
Before Sherrell got the contract, Dean and Hasseltine Hobbs had the contract, and offered post office services in the Diamond B Mall.
"There has pretty much been a contract post office in Horseshoe Bend since it was built," Hasseltine said. "Some years, we would get a cost of living increase, but you don't really make anything on a contract. When they were planning to build a new post office in Franklin, people in Horseshoe Bend thought they could get it built here, but they couldn't."
Developers and Mayors of Horseshoe Bend tried for years, without success, to get an official U.S. Post Office in the city. The lack of a "real post office" has long been a sore spot.
"It is pitiful a city of this size does not have a post office," Sherrell said. "We are the largest city in Izard County.
Considering the USPS' enormous financial problems, the changes of getting a Horseshoe Bend are probably more remote than ever. But Sherrell notes the postal service is still open to the idea of allowing someone to resume offering post office services on a contract basis. She said a Village Post Office program puts small post offices in places of business. Sherrell hopes another local business will step forward to get Horseshoe Bend postal service reestablished.