Case closed on monthslong investigation into local post offices, former Salisbury councilman says

Published 6:05 pm Monday, March 7, 2022

SALISBURY — Former City Council member Kenny Hardin says a monthslong investigation successfully resolved a number of issues and concerns across local post offices.

Hardin in November began communicating with federal elected officials to initiate a federal audit of the East Spencer post office via his nonprofit The High Road after fielding a range of complaints, which included 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.

A month later, Gold Hill residents in southeastern Rowan County also shared concerns with the Salisbury Post about making multiple trips to the local post office only to find it closed without notification and, in one instance, closed for a full week without an employee providing services.

Hardin took complaints to Rep. Ted Budd’s office. Budd is a Republican who represents North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District, which will include Rowan County until the 2022 election. Though the concerns were elevated to U.S. Postal Service leadership through Budd’s office, weeks without a response or any action prompted Hardin to get the complaints in front of Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, two Republicans who also represent North Carolina. Additionally, Hardin said he sent information about the investigation to Fox News, CNN, NBC News, ABC and other cable networks.

In late February, Tillis’ office emailed Hardin a response from USPS leadership stating issues had been addressed and resolved. Hardin told the Post he was disappointed with the slow pace and delayed response from USPS leadership, but he still calls it a success.

“So, the efforts our nonprofit employed were effective and successful,” Hardin said. “Postmaster Cole should be replaced, but I’m happy they’re listening to the employees and making the work environment better. The service extended to customers seems to have improved so I feel good closing out this issue and calling it a success.”

Other concerns from postal workers detailed a hostile, toxic work environment. The email from Tillis’ office said allegations were elevated to a manager of post office operations.

Hardin said two residents who initially provided complaints to his nonprofit reported issues being resolved — one of whom said the East Spencer Post Office hasn’t been closed since Hardin became involved.

“I have personally spoken with a few of the employees who filed complaints with our organization and they shared either their concerns had been addressed or they didn’t want to pursue it further,” Hardin told the Post. “So, with the response from Rep. Budd, Sen. Tillis and the U.S. Postal Service investigator, we are closing out our involvement in this concern.”

During the investigation, postal leaders attributed the concerns to staffing issues. Philip Bogenberger, a USPS strategic communications specialist for North Carolina and Virginia, told the Post the same in December, stating concerns expressed by local residents were the product of staffing challenges that the agency was “still working hard to address.”

“I’m happy postal customers and employees entrusted The High Road, Inc. to advocate on their behalf and we were able to get definitive results through our efforts,” Hardin said. “Our organization will continue to fight for those who feel their voice is not being heard or respected.”

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

email author More by Natalie

Comments