News / USA

Economy, Post Office Woes Force Iowa Town Off Map

Kane Farabaugh

The United States Postal Service is facing unprecedented financial losses.  Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe recently told lawmakers his agency needed government intervention by the end of the year to prevent bankruptcy.  The problems of the post office, at a time of high unemployment and slow economic growth, have taken their toll on the town of Searsboro, in the Midwest state of Iowa.  The only thing keeping the town of about 150 people together was its small post office, which closes at the end of September.

Searsboro, Iowa doesn't have much going for it.

"If you go out, and you go out in the country, and you see the old barns falling down, that could be a metaphor for this town," says Jim Roye a Searsboro resident.

For Roye, Searsboro is home.  But in the time he's lived here, the only employer, the grain elevator, closed its doors.  A fire forced the only restaurant out of business.  An embezzlement scandal in the local government left the town broke.

The only thing that was keeping this community of about 150 people together was its small post office.  But now, that is scheduled to close in late September.

"It's just something we're seeing in America, in small towns especially, with the way the recession has hit us," Roye says.

Retired army veteran and Searsboro resident Dave Phipps agrees.

"It's going to pot.  There's nothing happening anymore," says Phipps.

In fact, Searsboro is not officially a town, any more. Residents, including Dave Phipps, voted earlier this year in favor of disincorporating.

"We were not getting anywhere the way we were going," notes Phipps.

Even though less than one third of the town's population voted, most residents say the loss of the post office sealed Searsboro's fate.

"A lot of people wanted to keep it.  It formed a sense of our community," says Roye.

"A post office is very, very important to a small rural community.  And it was very important to the people of Searsboro," notes Deb Collum-Calderwood, the executive director of Poweshiek Iowa Development, also known as POW I-80.  The organization promotes economic development in Poweshiek County, Iowa, where Searsboro is located.

The county had eight incorporated towns.  It's now down to seven.

"It seems like the incorporated areas that have more services to offer their residents seem to be growing and sustaining, whereas the really small communities really struggle to retain the businesses, the people that are living in their communities," adds Collum-Calderwood.

Searsboro's residents faced increasing local taxes coupled with decreasing services.  They voted to disincorporate partially to get help from the state and county governments to fix what is left of the community.

"Streets were a big issue for them," Collum-Calderwood explains. "It's hard, when you have just such a limited tax base to pull from. It's hard for small communities to make those infrastructure improvements."

Though Searsboro's 135-year history seems at an end, Dave Phipps plans to stay.

"I don't know if it will be on the map anymore, but it will always be here, I mean, people love living here," says Phipps.

The problems in Searsboro will not be isolated.  As the U.S. Postal Service looks at more ways to trim its $10 billion deficit, more small towns across the United States could face similar cuts.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid