Ono residents who have been paying for Group E post office boxes in Jonestown will receive a refund from the postal service.
However, nearly 10 months after delivery abruptly ended in Ono, there’s still no resolution to having postal service returned to the tiny town, meaning those residents must still drive to the Jonestown Post Office to get their mail.
A representative of U.S. Congressman Dan Meuser shared with LebTown details of conversations they’ve had with U.S. Postal Service representatives as part of the congressman’s efforts to have mail delivery returned to Ono.
Meuser, whose legislative district includes Ono, became involved with this issue after being informed by LebTown earlier this year that delivery had ended after the post office’s lease had expired.
Matthew Hanrahan, a Meuser spokesman, told LebTown during a telephone interview that USPS is refunding Ono residents who have a Group E designated post office box at Jonestown since federal regulations require universal delivery to all United States citizens.
“The good news is that Ono residents who have a (Group E) post office box in Jonestown will now be free for them,” said Hanrahan, who also encouraged residents who are eligible for a refund to take along receipts if they have them. “Anybody who has been charged in the past will be eligible for a refund. They need to go to the Jonestown Post Office to request that refund.”
Hanrahan shared a written message from a USPS representative to the congressman that led to the decision to refund residents who had been charged since last fall. That statement said:
“After the Ono, PA Post Office closed in October 2022, PO Boxes for Ono customers were transferred to PO Box service in the neighboring Jonestown, PA Post Office. Management of the Jonestown Post Office has converted paid PO Boxes for Ono residents who are not eligible for street delivery to no fee Group E PO Boxes. Additionally, in line with this published rule in the Federal Register, Ono customers who were paying for PO Box service that were entitled to Group E (free) PO Box service are eligible for refunds up to 24 months of PO Boxes fees previously paid. If Ono residents are interested in requesting refunds, they are welcome to go to the Jonestown Post Office to do so.”
Hanrahan also shared this statement from the USPS concerning efforts to find a location for mail delivery in Ono.
“USPS has been unable to locate and identify suitable alternate quarters and discussions with the town’s Volunteer Fire Department for a modular site did not materialize, however, a new market survey has been initiated to explore all viable alternatives. We expect to know more in the next 30-45 days when potential viable options have been evaluated.”
LebTown reached out to Mark Lawrence, strategic communications specialist for USPS, Atlantic Area – Upstate New York, Central & Western Pennsylvania, for clarification and to ask some questions to determine what a new market study is, if the study has been completed and what were the study’s findings.
Asked to submit those questions via email, LebTown received Lawrence’s brief reply:
“The Postal Service is exploring alternative locations for the Ono Post Office. We have no further information at this time.”
While attempts to get some questions answered and clarifications on statements provided by USPS representatives to Meuser were unsuccessful, LebTown did speak with Rob Taylor, fire commissioner for Northern Lebanon Fire and Emergency Services (NLFES), about whether his department had conversations with USPS officials.
“The Ono post office has not contacted us,” said Taylor. “The lady (Jocelyn Shay) that had the place that they were at, did ask us if we had a spot or if the fire department would be willing to put something up to rent, but as far as the actual post office contacting us, no.”
Taylor added that any requests concerning space rental at the Ono Fire Department would have come to him.
“They (USPS officials) did not contact me and that would have come to me since I sit on the board as fire commissioner,” he said. “I’m not saying they didn’t talk to someone, but they did not contact me, only Jocelyn has talked with me.”
Taylor told LebTown that the fire company has space to the rear of their property that he believes would be suitable for a modular unit for the post office. He also had another solution to this ongoing dilemma.
“One of the things I talked about before is putting a big cluster box there,” said Taylor. “At least then they don’t have to go all the way to Jonestown to get their mail. That’s what they do for big developments.”
After LebTown ended a phone interview with Taylor, he called back a short time later to provide some additional information. He said a member of the fire company’s ladies’ auxiliary spoke with the Jonestown PO postmaster about the fire company’s property being used for mail delivery.
“The ladies’ auxiliary basically runs that building, so one of the ladies that’s in charge of that spoke with the postmaster at Jonestown when she was in the post office and they said they have three locations that they are looking at,” added Taylor. “I really don’t consider that talking to us, but they did talk inside there. I think it was just an open conversation.”
Asked if one of the three locations under consideration was the fire company, Taylor said he believes it is but added he didn’t know for certain without speaking directly to a USPS official to confirm it.
Meanwhile, Meuser wrote to LebTown saying his office will continue to look for a solution.
“My office remains in close contact with the United States Postal Service in an effort to resolve the frustrating situation residents in Ono are facing,” wrote Meuser. “We’re working with the USPS as they identify viable options for a new post office in Ono, and a ‘New Market Survey’ is currently being conducted to help in their search. In the meantime, I’m happy that all Ono residents who are not eligible for street delivery are now being provided free PO Boxes in Jonestown and those who had initially been forced to pay are now eligible for a full refund. While this is a good start, I’m hopeful postal service can be fully restored in Ono.”
Residents with questions or concerns are asked to direct their inquiries to Nathan Gerace, a district director for Meuser’s office, at (570) 871-6370.
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