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End of an era for Castaic Post Office

Castaic post office closes doors, moves to new location

Posted: March 9, 2009 1:03 a.m.
Updated: March 16, 2009 1:07 p.m.

Jose Beltram, of Mission Hills, grabs his mail from his P.O. Box at the Castaic Post Office Wednesday afternoon.

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After a half-century at the same place, a change of address is in order for the Castaic Post Office.

Friday is the last regular business day at the office located at 31519 Castaic Road.

Starting Saturday, Castaic residents will have to do their business at the U.S. Postal Service office located at 28201 Franklin Parkway, about six miles away from the existing office.

Located between an open plot of land and 24-hour Mike's Diner, the tiny Castaic post office is easy to miss.

The front desk area of the post office can get crowded once more than five people are in line, which is pretty constantly in the late afternoon.

"I'll be very unhappy to see it closed," said Billie Schlau, who has had a mailbox at the Castaic office for the last 27 years. "It's convenient, and we have a postmaster that is so friendly."

A self-described cowboy, Bill R. said he's maintained a post office box in Castaic for 30 years and used to tie up his horse behind the building when he'd pick up his mail.

"I'll miss this place," the mustachioed Hasley Canyon resident said Friday, declining to give his last name.

This week is also the end of an era for Kevin Kennedy, owner of Mari-Co Mail Service, who has hauled mail between the Castaic and Valencia post offices several times a day for the past 17 1/2 years.

With the move to the Franklin Parkway location - which houses the Postal Service's regional processing center - Kennedy said his services will no longer be needed.

"I pretty much know all of the post office box holders," said Kennedy, who makes his morning deliveries with Sophee, his yellow Labrador. "It's sad to see the place close up."

A Postal Service employee since 1980, Donna Errington has managed the Castaic office since last October. In fact, for most of the day she's the only worker there.

It was the community atmosphere that drew her to the position, she said.

"I can treat people like people, instead of treating them like a number," she said.

Indeed, Errington gives each customer her full attention and sends everyone off with a charge to "have a good day."

She's transferring to the Franklin Parkway office and said she won't necessarily miss much about the current office.

"It'll be about the same," she said. "I can still juggle four people at once."

The new location has the capacity for 1,500 post office boxes, triple the 500 at which the Castaic office is maxed out, said Bob Swanson, postmaster for the Santa Clarita Valley.

Several of the Castaic post office boxes - with rarely-seen combination locks - are being donated to the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, Swanson said.

Residents will also be able to purchase the tiny brass doors from the boxes once the post office closes.

The move is also a cost-cutting measure, as Swanson said the Postal Service owns the Franklin Parkway office and has been leasing the Castaic Road location.

"It's actually a win-win," he said last week. "We're trying to do some consolidation."

Additionally, he said the new office will maintain Saturday hours.

"It's really sad that it's closing down," said Nancy Cordova, who said her family has maintained a Castaic post office box for some 85 years.

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