HOLMES BEACH -- On Tuesday afternoon, Peggy Myers and her business partner, Jack Jackson, received an email with news they -- and many in Holmes Beach -- had been hoping for: The P.O. boxes in the post office they manage will stay where they are.
"We are elated," Myers said Wednesday. "We are thrilled for the box-holders and the people of Holmes Beach. It was definitely the right thing to do."
The email from the U.S. Postal Service headquarters cited Anna Maria Island's traffic issues and lack of parking at the other government-operated post office branches on the island as reasons behind their decision. USPS officials had previously turned down a request to include continu
ation of P.O. box services as part of the process to establish a new contract.
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In an official announcement Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan shared the news. The congressman visited Holmes Beach City Hall on Monday with USPS officials to hear from about 50 residents about the issue.
"I am pleased that USPS will maintain full service in Holmes Beach and continue to provide residents in our area with convenient, efficient postal service," Buchanan said in a written statement. "We have been working closely with local stakeholders to impress upon USPS the importance of keeping these P.O. boxes in service, especially the traffic issues that would arise and the lack of parking at other USPS branches. They considered all of the factors we presented to them and arrived at the right decision."
For 20 years, Myers and Jackson have had a contract with USPS to run their mail-service business at 5343 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. They wanted to retire soon, but their plans hit a snag when they were notified by USPS about the plans for the post office boxes.
Because Holmes Beach makes up the central portion of the island, Myers said keeping the P.O. box services where they are is the logical choice.
"It was nuts to think that people would take an hour to an hour and a half out of their day to go get mail in Anna Maria," Myers said. "That's just crazy. During season, try to go up to Anna Maria. It's totally bumper to bumper."
Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who has held a P.O. box in Holmes Beach since she was 15, said the news saves a bit more of the city's character.
"It's actually a true neighborhood gathering place," she said of the local post office, adding she goes to it frequently. "It's just another small victory and a good thing for the city."
Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson had sent a March 19 letter to Buchanan about the issue and said he was excited when he received a message from the congressman.
"He made a great effort at understanding the issues within the community and acting on those issues as best as he could -- in his position -- for the benefit of the community," Johnson said. "I was really pleased."
Since news spread, two banners have been placed inside and outside the Holmes Beach post office. Both read: "We all won, the boxes are staying, thank you for your support."
Myers said she and Jackson aren't leaving just yet because the contract with USPS has to be rewritten to include the P.O. box service.
Once they retire, Myers said she doesn't know what they'll do.
"We're going to miss the people, that's for darn sure," she said. "This is our little place here."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.