What was once a short walk to pick up the mail will soon be a two-mile drive for Cardin postal residents.

Monday, the U.S. Postal Service officially announced the closing of the Cardin Post Office.

“We have done an emergency suspension actually,” said Kerry Rennels, consumer specialist for the U.S. Postal Service. “The lease on the building expires Feb. 28, and due to environmental issues we have issued an emergency suspension of the service in Cardin.”

Beginning Monday, March 2, Cardin P.O. box holders will have to retrieve their mail from the Picher Post Office.

“We already have cluster boxes set up in the Picher post office,” said Rennels. “Monday, Cardin residents can pick up their key and begin getting their mail in Picher.”

According to David Lewin, a public relations specialist for the US Postal Service in Oklahoma, the primary criteria of the US Postal Service is to ensure that every customer in the state receives postal service.

“When we see a decrease in the number of customers in a community such as you've seen in Cardin and even Picher we have to start considering a number of options,” said Lewin. “What we look for is, obviously, the number of customers being served; the volume of mail in that particular post office; the availability of personnel; and the retail service of that particular office.”

The communities of Picher and Cardin once thrived when lead and zinc mining were in full operation.

When mining ceased in the 1970s, the towns began to  slowly vacate.

Today, the post office provides service to about 30 families.

Cardin P.O. box holders will not have to change their address. Postal officials say their P.O. boxes will remain the same, according to Rennels.

Rural customers will see no change in their service.

“Eventually, we will probably see the same thing happen in Picher,” said Lewin.

A preliminary decision was made during Monday's public meeting to not renew the lease on the building used to house Picher Post Office.

The lease expires in June.

Postal officials say if it becomes necessary to close Picher's post office as well, mail will be delivered to Quapaw.