Cabot, News

Cabot Post Office Asbestos Mitigation to Begin April 29

photo by Vanessa Fournier
The Cabot Post Office was closed March 5 after asbestos was discovered. All of Cabot’s operations were relocated to the Marshfield Post Office. Asbestos removal is scheduled to begin April 29.

Select board Member, R.D. Eno, in a message posted recently to the Cabot Connects Town Bulletin Board group on Facebook wrote, “Good news for Cabot Village! Postal Realty Trust, Inc., the company that owns the Post Office premises and leases to the United State Postal Service, has informed the Cabot Select Board that USPS has approved its asbestos abatement plan, and that asbestos removal is scheduled to begin on April 29.”

The United States Postal Service (USPS) office in Cabot was closed last month after a heating contractor noticed vermiculite filtering down from the ceiling.

Most vermiculite produced before 1990 comes from a single mine in Libby, Mont., which also had a deposit of asbestos that contaminated the vermiculite, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Eno says that, as far as he knows, no one has reported any health issues as a result of working at the Cabot Post Office. ATSDR literature warns, “if the [vermiculite] insulation is disturbed, asbestos fibers may be released into the air. Inhalation of these fibers would be a concern. If this is the case, you may want to consider either containing or removing the insulation.

“All Cabot postal operations, including post boxes, were relocated to the Marshfield Post Office, but Cabot Village saw an immediate drop in commercial activity. Alerted to the serious economic consequences of the loss of this vital service, Postal Realty Trust has communicated regularly with the select board, while Rep. Becca Balint’s office has reached out repeatedly to the USPS,” Eno’s post states.

As a result, Eno says, “the remediation process has been expedited. Mitigation work should take about a week,” and is scheduled to begin on April 29. “Postal Realty Trust is already lining up a contractor to re-insulate the building and install a new ceiling.”

“Once reconstruction is complete, it will be up to the USPS to decide when to occupy the building, but a USPS official in Portland, Maine, has assured the select board that the post office will be reopened.”

Eno says the select board is pleased with the attention this unfortunate and unexpected problem is receiving, telling the Gazette that both the USPS and Rep. Balint’s office have been extremely responsive. Balint’s office also contacted the offices of Senators Sanders and Welch for help in contacting the USPS.

Since March 5, customers of the Cabot Post Office have had to travel to the Marshfield Post Office to receive their box mail, and to the Marshfield or Plainfield Post Offices to transact business at the retail counter.

A date has not yet been set for the Cabot Post Office to reopen.

Cabot Post Office,1922

USPS in Cabot Over the Years

by Jane Brown, from The Cabot Chronicle, April 2024

CABOT – The first mailman I remember was Ray Peck. He delivered mail in Cabot for many years, no matter what the weather. He usually drove a car, but when winter roads were drifted, he got out his horse and sleigh.

That was in the 1930s when winters were harsher and roads far more troublesome than they are today. If he missed a day because of the roads, I don’t remember it.

When I was in high school, Earle J. Rogers was the postmaster, and the post office was in the back of the store where Bobby Searles’ deli is. I think he retired in about 1969. His daughter, Ann Peck Harding, generously donated his handwritten delivery route lists to the Historical Society.

Regular mail service in Cabot began in 1808. Until then, mail delivery to settlements in the wilderness that became Vermont was practically non-existent. Travelers sometimes carried news and personal messages, usually verbally because few of the earliest settlers could read or write. If the messenger actually found the person and delivered the message, it might not be quite the same as originally sent. Accuracy and privacy were not part of the deal. Even military couriers were unreliable, so after the Battle of Lexington in 1775, a committee formed to design a secure postal system that would ensure that the British would no longer be able to intercept critical intelligence.

That plan was the foundation for the federal postal service. Newspapers were an important part of early settlers’ mail. One of the earliest local papers available in the area was the North Star that began publication in Danville in 1807.

In 1808, Henry Denny became a route carrier from Montpelier to the Canadian line. His route followed the County Road from Montpelier over Cabot Plains to Danville, Barton and Lyndon. He returned by a different route that took him through Craftsbury and Hardwick, picking up and delivering packages, letters and newspapers on the round trip that took about 10 days.

If a town had no post office, he left mail at designated residences, taverns, or stores along the way. Local newspaper offices vied to be the drop-off location so they would have the news before anyone else.

After Henry Denny, Mr. Cate of Plainfield carried the mail on the same route, also on horseback.

Nickerson Warner, in about 1810, became the first appointed postmaster in Cabot.

The postmaster usually maintained an office in his home, but because he lived too far off the postal route, Warner hired Lenord Orcutt, who lived on the route, to distribute what mail the carrier had not already handed off along the way. Orcutt found it most efficient to take the mail to church with him (at the Center of Town Meeting House) and distribute it there.

In 1814, Jeremiah Babcock became postmaster. He lived close to County Road, so kept the post office in his home.

When he resigned in 1820 his son, Harvey, became postmaster and moved the office to a store in Cabot’s Lower Village, where it remained for several years.

Route carriers traveled on horseback until Deacon Adams initiated a horse drawn stage that carried passengers as well as mail. His stage was a wagon with hay for passengers’ comfort, but with rough roads and no springs on the wagon, hay was an ineffective cushion. After Adams, Deacon Kellogg ran the stage.

George Dana became postmaster in 1834. By then most of the town’s business had moved from the Plains and Center of Town to the valley where Cabot Village is now, so Dana established the post office in Elijah Perry’s Cabot Village store. This caused friction between the upper and lower village communities, but the office remained there except for one year when Cornelius Smith of the Lower Village was appointed postmaster. After that year, it returned to the upper village and has remained there since.

The stage to Montpelier took two days, one day over and one day back, so there were mail deliveries three times a week until about 1860 when roads were better and mail could be delivered daily from Montpelier.

In the 1870’s, rail service to nearby Marshfield and Walden greatly improved Cabot’s postal service. Stages carried mail and passengers daily to and from the train stations.

Earle J. Rogers had served as Cabot’s postmaster for nearly 30 years when he died in 1951. His son, Edward J. “Jack” Rogers, was appointed to the office on December 31, 1951. Mr. Rogers kept the post office in his store, Wells & Rogers.

The original building burned in 1935 and was replaced by a new structure which is now the Cabot Village Store. Warren L. Barnett became postmaster in 1954.

A small self-contained post office was built north of Roger’s store, and the office has remained there ever since. When Warren retired, his wife, Helen became postmaster.

Stephen Webster became officer in charge of the Cabot post office in 1983, until Nancy Houston was appointed postmaster in 1984.

Sandra Curtis held the office for about a year before Claudette McAllister came on board.

The post office in Cabot has seen many changes and had a variety of personnel changes over the years.

On January 10, 2015, the Cabot Post Office became a Level 6 (six-hour) office under the direction of the Danville Post Office. There is no longer a postmaster in Cabot’s post office; there now is an officer-In-charge.

However, when Mother Nature once again assaulted Cabot Village, the neat little post office suffered damage and recently had to close its doors temporarily, requiring Cabot’s postal clerk, Diane Jeger, to work out of Marshfield. While some customers are inconvenienced by having to go to Marshfield for service, rural carriers still travel the same roads Ray Peck and those before him did, proving daily that “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Paul Fixx is editor of The Hardwick Gazette and lives in Hardwick.

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