By Yolanda Jones/The Commercial Appeal
LAKE CORMORANT — For 75 years, the Lake Cormorant community has had a post office. Whether there will be a 76th year, no one knows.
The facility is one of 61 in Mississippi targeted by the U.S. Postal Service for possible closure, victims of changing times and lessening demand physical postal facilities. Nationwide, 3,700 retail post offices are being considered for closure.
It’s unclear when Postal officials will make a final decision on closings. If the Lake Cormorant facility does close its doors, though, it’ll be closing them on a lot of history.
At one time, the post office was in a general store run by W. B. Cody, a descendent of American Old West showman and soldier William “Buffalo Bill” Cody.
In 1972, Floyd Robertson, a former county supervisor, bought the store from Cody, and the post office remained.
In the 1980s, the post office moved from Robertson’s General Merchandise Store to a new building directly across the street.
“The post office was still a hub of the community, even after it moved out of my store,” Robertson said. “We felt proud to have a post office in our community, and hopefully that won’t change.”
The postal service website explains the need to “right-size” its post offices — nearly 32,000 — because competition from places such as the Internet is leaving the service in the red. Last year, it lost $8 billion.
“Our customers’ habits have made it clear they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business,” according to the website.
For residents like Diane Moore, who has lived in Lake Cormorant for 38 years, the post office is more than just a place to buy stamps and mail packages.
“I see old friends I haven’t seen for years at the post office,” she said. “We stop and catch up, and having a post office in our community is just really convenient.”
The post office is a tiny red-brick building that sits near the railroad tracks and the American Legion Post that once housed Robertson’s store.
“I have mixed emotions from a community standpoint because the post office has been here for 75 years,” said Robertson, who lives two blocks from the post office.
“But the economy is messed up with the recession, and the postal service is in debt. I would love to fight for our post office, but can you fight the big money situation the postal service is in?”
He said the Lake Cormorant community in southwestern DeSoto County has grown in the past few years with the opening of three new schools there. He is building a new home in the community, and he thinks the current level of growth should be enough to keep the post office open.
“We hope it doesn’t close, but if it does, hopefully the growth will bring it back,” he said.
Walls Mayor Gene Alday said he can relate to the Lake Cormorant residents’ concerns about the possibility of losing a post office.
Four or five years ago, Alday had to fight to keep his town’s post office after it ended up on a postal service closure list.
He said he and residents wrote to postal officials and politicians lobbying to keep their post office on old Mississippi Highway 161 open, and officials listened.
“We told them how vital the post office was to our town,” Alday said. “We lost a bank, and we knew if we lost the post office too that would not be good for the community.”
He said he is willing to discuss with Lake Cormorant residents how Walls saved its post office.
“If they call, I would be happy to talk with them,” Alday said.