- SEE RELATED STORY: "TINY POST OFFICE DELIVERS" JULY 28, 2010
By CAROL ROBIDOUX
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Word on the street is that the East Derry Post Office is about to lose its postmaster – a signboard urging public support for Glenn Gray has been posted outside the little post office on East Derry Road since last week.
Gray has been manning the one-man mail operation since January, when he was transferred from Windham to run the daily operations that includes more than 230 post office boxes and a steady flow of foot traffic.
Gray said that he has mostly been kept out of the loop. All he knows is he's being called back to the Windham office, which is “in crisis” due in part to several employees who are about to go on medical leave.
“They are in trouble, and are bringing me back to cover. I don't know how they're going to fill the space left here,” Gray said.
Yesterday, longtime Derry resident Dave McPherson, who also serves as vice president of the East Derry Village Improvement Society, said Gray has become an integral part of the close-knit community, which explains the outpouring in recent days of support to keep him put.
"The small but large-in-spirit community of East Derry is anchored by our post office, church and store. Glenn has quickly become an institution in East Derry. The customer service he provides to every person that comes in his door – taking the time to welcome the school kids from the Nutfield Pre-School or assisting an elderly customer – Glenn has become an integral member of our community,” McPherson said.
“Glenn is a member of our extended family here and we value the service he provides us. There are many small things that, when looked at separately, have little or no value; however, when looked at as a whole, it's what makes a community, " McPherson said.
Tom Rizzo, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service Northern New England District, said the decision to move Gray is not personal.
“Glenn is returning shortly to his permanent, valuable position as a window clerk at the Windham Post Office. The move is based solely on the current needs of the Postal Service,” Rizzo said.
“We are not surprised by the loyalty shown by Glenn’s customers. It certainly validates our original decision to place him in this temporary assignment. While Glenn’s developmental detail as Officer in Charge in East Derry is coming to a close, we’re pleased to hear very positive customer feedback on his performance. Public goodwill will certainly be to Glenn’s benefit when future career opportunities arise,” Rizzo said in an e-mailed statement.
Gray said the outpouring of support only solidifies what he already knew – East Derry is a great place to work. He'd stay if he could, but also understands that, as the U.S. Postal Service struggles with a growing systemic financial crisis, tough decisions will have to be made.
“So many people have come in the door, asking to sign the petition – and also to find out if the post office is closing; it's not. For now, the plan may be to bring someone else in as a temp-to-perm postmaster,” said Gray. “Maybe I'll be back, but the way things look right now, I don't think that will happen.”
In a July 28 Union Leader article about Gray, the history of the post office, current plans to cutback service and staff across the country, Rizzo said that while there are no plans to close postal offices in New Hampshire, the future is hard to see, given the postal service's financial woes.
“We don't know what the future holds. We have no present plans to close small-town post offices,” Rizzo said in that story. “However, the changes that are going to be necessary are still quite open to discussion. Doing nothing is no longer an option.”