Natalia Post Office opening in next few weeks

Following two years of tracking to Lytle every day to collect mail, residents of Natalia will soon be celebrating the re-opening of their US Post Office in the center of town. About two years ago, on August 3rd of 2018, the post office was struck by an electric pole as it fell on the roof with a number of oil filled transformers attached, and burst into flames with the postmaster inside.
Fortunately the postmaster Lauren Mann escaped on her own. Despite heroic efforts coordinated by seven area fire departments, the building eventually burned to the ground after repeatedly reigniting due to the oil filled transformers, according to fire officials.
Now, sometime in the next few weeks, the city will be able to celebrate the resurrected building.
Ruby Vera, Chairman of the Natalia Municipal Development District, said they are planning a big ribbon cutting once the opening date is established. The board has already been in touch with some dignitaries who, depending on the date, may honor the city with their presence.
Vera said the footprint is the same as it was before but there have been a number of upgrades inside the building.
“There are 200 more boxes in the new post office,” she said, “and they are all rented.
“We are still picking up mail in Lytle and have to do so between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the week and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday. And we are still paying for the box rentals for the entire time.”
She went on to explain that if the stipulated hours were not convenient for your schedule, you could rent a box in Lytle to forward your Natalia box to but then you were paying for two boxes. Rural routes have been worked out of the Lytle post office since before the fire due to consolidations made years ago.
Vera said that the long construction time lag was due in part to the fact that the owner of the property lives out of town and everything has to be approved by the federal government, so coordinating the project took longer than anticipated. To establish responsibility, the Natalia VFD pulled footage from the security cameras across State Highway 132 at the Security State Bank. Those cameras verified that the pole was leaning and was not struck by anything. It simply fell over from a rotted base.
“The Army Corp. of Engineers pulled samples of the foundation and found it had no damage so the post office approved the reconstruction on the original foundation,” Vera said.
While the building is basically complete, there are a few things that still need to be installed or turned on. And of course, being a government building, everyone has to sign off on everything.

Anthony Bollman of AB Construction handled the project.
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AB Construction was the General Contractor for the project. Anthony “Bubba” Bollman was awarded the bid in May of 2019 and it was released to start construction the end of December 2019. Bollman started work in January of 2020. He was given a October 2020 completion date by the Postal Service but he proposed he would be done by June 2020, but was able to finish in May 2020.
Bollman and his crews and sub-contractors were able to complete the project by the end of May, well ahead of time.
“We were able to complete the project in less than five months, well ahead of schedule,” said Bollman. “The build was on the original slab, as it was approved safe to use. I worked with many people from all different locations, but we got it done not only in time, but early, and even the inspections are done. ”
For example the owner of the building is from Laredo, but his management company is in New York. The federal government is in Washington and other Postal Services (insurance adjuster, architect and postal architect) dealing with rebuilding in Florida, Houston and Dallas. I had about 10 different departments I had to coordinate with on the project besides the crews actually doing the physical work on site.
“I have done several remodeled post offices in the past so I was familiar with the system and have a good rapport and reputation, so we were proud to have been able to get the project and help get the Natalia Post Office up and running for our local community. It is a vital part of a small town community. Growing up here in Devine I understand and respect that.”
Federal and local inspections have now been done.
Natalia Postmaster Lauren Mann will return to Natalia when it opens, according to our sources. She has been working in the Lytle post office since the closure of the Natalia post office when it burned down.
Interesting to note, Lytle does not have any street delivery. They only have post office boxes within city limits, but they do have rural carriers.
By Kathleen Calame and Linda Sherrell
The Devine News

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