By Debbie Carson, Online Editor
VERO BEACH - The Tropic Post Office branch manager, union representative and employees found out Thursday that their branch will not be shut down as part of the US Postal Service's plans to save money by consolidating and closing branches.
"I'm very grateful," said Deborah Mostafavi, the branch's manager. "I don't have to look for another job."
After finding out that the branch was in jeopardy, employees circulated a petition that garnered 2,116 signatures in a matter of 20 hours, according to Artie Tangel, the vice president of the local American Postal Workers Union. News of the branch's safety came with cautious optimism from Tangel.
"It's one thing to be verbally told," he said. "It's another to get it in writing."
The US Postal Service posted its latest list of proposed closures on its Web site - missing from the list was Tropic Branch, located at 600 6th Ave. in Vero Beach.
USPS spokesman Gary Sawtelle told VeroNews.com that the branch would not be placed back on the list to be considered for closure.
"We know that we have to get it right," said USPS spokesman Gary Sawtelle.
He explained that the postal service identified a preliminary list of potential sites to close based on their proximity to other branches, among other considerations.
After that, officials reviewed each site further and determined that the Tropic Branch needed to stay open.
"Customer access was important for the area," Sawtelle.
And while Sawtelle said that the branch was safe, he explained that should the postal service need to close more branches in the coming years, the branch could be reconsidered.
As for the petitions, Sawtelle said they help illustrate how the community feels about the branch but that they didn't play a role in the decision-making process.
"They kind of got ahead of us a little bit," he said of the branch's employees and supporting community. Sawtelle added that had the branch remained on the list, officials would have reached out to Vero Beach to get feedback on the proposal to close the branch.
Despite whether or not the petitions swayed the US Postal Service into keeping the branch open, both Tangel and Mostafavi said they wanted to thank the community for its support.
"We know all these people on a personal basis," Tangel said of the customers who frequent the branch.
Mostafavi agreed, adding that many customers share what's going on in their lives with the window clerks.
"It's like a small town post office," she said.
Along with not having to find other employment, Mostafavi said that keeping the branch open is like saving a family business. She explained that many of the employees at the branch are Vero Beach natives and some are multi-generations working at the branch.
Sales clerk Laura Sewell said that the customers and employees are so close that some of the customers give them hugs.
"We have a really great sense of community," she said.