ABIE — The green population sign posted alongside the road into Abie reads 69, but it’s really anyone’s guess just how accurate that is.
“There’s been a whole lot of changes in the time that I’ve lived here. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go,” said Nancy Lanc, who lives about a half-mile east of the Butler County town located halfway between David City and North Bend.
“I see people go to a nursing home or pass away and there’s always variation. … People move in and then within a month or two they move out," Lanc said. "You get to know them and then they are just gone.”
Abie’s business presence, too, has come and gone. During the last 10 to 15 years, several downtown fixtures have disappeared. In 2017, the Abie Auditorium closed, and now it looks like the Abie Community Post Office is next.
Recently, Lanc received word from Wahoo Postmaster Mark Fisher — her direct supervisor — that when she retires from her post in Abie at the end of this month, the contract post office will close its doors.
Lanc in March tendered her resignation with the understanding that somebody would pick up the contract when she left. In many villages, people bid on a contract to handle post office operations and are paid by the U.S. Postal Service to complete the task.
Lanc took over the contract in 2000 when Sharon Brekca stepped away from the position. Currently, the Abie post office is open from 9 a.m. through noon Monday through Friday and for a few hours on Saturdays.
Founded in the late-1800s, there has always been a post office in Abie, said Carroll Krivanek, the do-it-all of the village who serves on the five-person village governing board and acts as fire chief, water/sewer operator and village treasurer.
For years, the post office operated out of the former Abie State Bank building. Since the early 2000s, it's had a corner in the town's fire hall.
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If it closes, the 35 post office boxes would be placed somewhere in town, but customers or businesses wanting to ship packages or do other business would be forced to make daily runs about 4 miles south to Bruno.
“We are lucky to have businesses like Abie’s Place and a few others that use this place,” Krivanek said of the local post office. “Abie’s Place ships out stuff all the time, Krivanek Construction is always sending out paperwork and my wife does a lot of shipping on eBay …
“It’s going to create extra expense and travel time to go to Bruno. Most things need to be mailed on a daily basis and this will make things even harder for the little business that we do have left in Abie. It’s kind of like a stab in the heart to a town like this.”
Krivanek said it would also eliminate another gathering space. While one might not think of the post office as a place to congregate, the Abie Community Post Office through the years has been a place for a cup of coffee and some morning chatter.
“We live outside of town, but we come here to get our mail,” said Dorothy Vavrina, who has served as a post office substitute since the 1980s. “And then there is a group of us every morning around this table here who gather to talk and find out what’s going on. … It’s a meeting place for us to come and enjoy one another.”
What Krivanek said he believes is so foolish is that if Lanc were to keep her contract the postal service would honor it year after year.
“As far as I know from speaking with Mark (Fisher), if Nancy were to keep the contract she could keep that contract until she’s 100 and they would renew it yearly, but the second she relinquishes, that it’s at the discretion of the postal service whether they want to continue it, offer it up to someone else or just close (shop).”
Now village residents are asking for help from elected officials and others to fight the post office's decision.
“I would totally understand if there was no one locally who wanted to take over the job and they (postal service) had to increase pay to have someone do it,” Krivanek said, "but this isn’t the case."