Residents in a small town in east central Iowa are trying to get their post office back. Seventy-seven-year-old Nadine Gray retired as Hartwick’s Postmaster two years ago, and now the buildingn that housed Hartwick’s post office has been condemned and closed. “We don’t have that much left. If they take the post office, you kind of lose your identity, I think,” Gray says. “It’s just about the last straw, we feel.” Hartwick is in the northeast part of Poweshiek County, about 20 miles northeast of Grinnell. Gray is helping collect signatures on a petition, trying to convince the U-S Postal Service to re-open an office in Hartwick, or at least set up a small “contract station” that would sell stamps and mail packages. “But other than that, I don’t know what else we can do,” Gray says. Hartwick has about a hundred residents and many attended a town meeting Monday night to talk about their plight. Gray says officials from the Postal Service have set the requirements for re-opening a post office in Hartwick so high, she doubts any building in town could meet it. Gray says there are two buildings in town that could house a post office, but Postal Service officials are “real fussy” and would require major improvements, like bars on the windows. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a post office with bars on the windows,” Gray says. According to Gray, folks in Hartwick are mad and upset about the situation. “But I don’t know that we can fight it,” she says. “We’ll try.” Folks in Hartwick now go to a batch of “cluster boxes” on Main Street to pick up their mail. Gray retired from her job when she was 75, after 18 years as Postmaster. “Gosh, you’ve got to go sometime,” Gray says. She’s joined a “Red Hat Club” and spends more time gardening in her retirement years.
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