Former Salisbury councilman Kenny Hardin joins effort to fix East Spencer Post Office problems

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, November 23, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

EAST SPENCER — Through his nonprofit organization, former Salisbury City Council member Kenny Hardin is working to start a federal audit of the East Spencer Post Office after fielding complaints from residents for at least a month.

Hardin said he began receiving complaints from residents about a month ago that involved a lack of response from Rowan County Postmaster Rodrick Cole, frequent closures of the office without notice, the inability to purchase money orders, “guesstimated” rates for postage and lack of proper cleaning.

Through his nonprofit The High Road LLC, Hardin has contacted state and federal lawmakers about a formal audit investigation and for inefficiencies. On Monday, Hardin submitted to U.S. Rep. Ted Budd’s office consent forms from both Hardin and Carolyn Logan, a resident who voiced complaints to Hardin and has been speaking on behalf of other residents experiencing similar issues.

“What I hope happens is that they’ll bring the post office up to speed and don’t close it or shut it down,” Hardin said.

Logan told the Salisbury Post there have been days in the previous few months when the office was closed on days when it otherwise should have been open — sometimes with a sign asking residents to visit the Salisbury or Spencer locations. Signs also stated any packages that cost more than $3 to ship would need to be taken care of at the Salisbury location.

Issues Logan and other residents have experienced include mail placed in the wrong boxes and an outdated pay scale for mailing packages. Logan said she recently took a package to the Salisbury location and was told it would cost a little more than $11 to mail it, but the rate was more than $16 in East Spencer. It was then discovered, she said, the East Spencer location is not using updated pay rates.

Logan said she’s the mother of a son with autism, and there was one instance when she didn’t receive medical documents she was expecting. She was greeted by a mailbox full of other residents’ mail instead. Another time, she didn’t receive time-sensitive documentation needed to renew her conceal carry license. She recalls another woman anticipating a check from her daughter and fearing she wouldn’t be able to receive it.

“We’re not seeing that same problem elsewhere,” Logan said. “We want our mail just like everyone else.”

Logan said issues have been prevalent for years now. She contacted Cole with similar concerns one year ago, with improved service only lasting a week or so after the complaint.

“That’s crazy that you can’t go to the post office and get your mail when it’s supposed to be delivered rain, sleet or snow,” Logan said. “We should not have to go to Salisbury or Spencer to mail a package when we have a post office right here.”

On Nov. 10, Cole, who leads the East Spencer and Salisbury post offices, attended a town board meeting and addressed rumors the East Spencer site would close. He attributed inconsistent hours to a major staffing shortage further exacerbated by the holiday season. Cole said he sometimes has to decide which branch will be open and operational. It is often Salisbury’s location due to the higher traffic.

Cole said the lobby of East Spencer’s site is kept open 24 hours, and staff will soon begin delivering packages from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. to make up the hour of daylight lost from daylight savings. Cole said at that meeting the East Spencer office will open for a period of time on Sundays to prevent a buildup of packages inside the lobby.

Cole also said East Spencer’s site supports money orders despite past issues.

Following Cole’s remarks at the meeting, Hardin sent Cole an email saying Logan and other residents felt his comments were misleading and incorrect. Logan confirmed the same to the Post on Monday. Hardin requested Cole deliver the services he assured Logan would receive or Hardin would move forward with the audit investigation. Hardin told the Post Cole’s response at the town board meeting wasn’t good enough.

“That’s a constitutional right,” he said. “So to just say, ‘We have a staffing issue and can’t keep it opened’ is a lame excuse. It’s unacceptable.”

Mayor Barbara Mallett said since Cole’s visit to the town board meeting, residents have shared that the issues haven’t yet been resolved. The primary concerns include not being able to obtain checks and medications. Because the post office is under the scope of the federal government, Mallett said she and other town officials have been waiting to see if the concerns would be resolved.

“That’s concerning to me when you start interfering with a person’s medical needs,” she said. “We hope this situation will quickly be resolved.”

As of Monday, the East Spencer post office’s hours of operation are from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a closure from 1 to 1:30 p.m, Monday through Friday. It’s closed on weekends and holidays.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.