Armuchee Postmaster Kicks His Employer Out
By BECKY BRACKETT
'They lied and said they'd take care of me, which they didn't do.'
-- David McCollum
Many of the folks in Armuchee are looking for their mail.
In fact, a lot of the people there are trying to find the post office.
For some 20 years, the Armuchee Post Office has been in a brick building on U.S. 27.
Monday, the Armuchee Post Office was abruptly moved across the street and into a temporary trailer one-third the size of the previous building.
And, the old post office is now slated to become a storage building.
The lease on the brick building expired in May, according to Armuchee Postmaster David McCollum, who also owns that building. The post office was moved when the U.S. Postal Service refused to pay a rent increase, he said.
"That's why we're here," he said.
The Postal Service is required to provide a post office and "this is what they furnished," McCollum said, gesturing toward the trailer, scattered inside with boxes and stacks of unsorted mail,
The temperature zoomed near the 100-degree mark inside the uncooled trailer Tuesday. Fans brought from employees' homes were scattered around the trailer attempting to create some airflow through the trailer.
"We almost melted Monday,' McCollum said. "It was over 100 degrees in here."
And, outside, workmen rushed to complete portable toilet facilities.
So why did McCollum - who has served as the Armuchee postmaster since 1963 and expects to retire in about two years - boot his own employer out of a home?
The Armuchee postmaster said he signed a 20-year contract with the U.S. Post Office Department in 1965 to lease the building for a set rent - $97.50 per month.
When that contract was signed, he said he questioned the provision calling for a set rent.
Postal officials then told the postmaster, "Don't worry about that. You're part of the postal family and we'll take care of you," he said.
And, McCollum said, he was told the rent would be adjusted, if necessary, in the future.
But, today, a U.S. Postal Service spokesperson said she did not know who McCollum spoke with when the contract was signed.
The U.S. Post Office was reorganized 10 years ago, becoming the U.S. Postal Service, according to Kay Loggins, public affairs officer for the Postal Service in Atlanta.
"I don't know what promises might have been made to him 20 years ago," she said in a telephone interview.
Although the Postal Service was paying $97.50 per month for rent, McCollum said he had to furnish water and sewage to the building, as well as pay insurance.