ARIPEKA - Aripekans have their post office back.
For the first time in 10 weeks since the Aripeka Post Office closed due to increased leasing costs, the parking spots outside the small building were nearly full Tuesday morning.
The post office, which re-opened Monday, is officially shipping and receiving mail, meaning Aripekans no longer have to make the more than 10-mile trek to the post office in Hudson.
Those who have not yet retrieved mail delivered up until Saturday at the Hudson location will have to make one more trip, residents say, but for the foreseeable future it should be the last.
Other than changed locks on residents' P.O. boxes and key replacements, everything is just about back to normal.
"I'm just glad it's open again," said Aripeka resident, Tabatha Matassa.
Many in the community either did not have driver's licenses or transportation, residents say, which made carpool mail drop-offs and pick-ups necessary for the village's residents over the past weeks.
Christina Jones, who does have transportation, will not miss trips to the Hudson Post Office, she said, even with it being on the way home from work in New Port Richey.
"It's going to be a lot more convenient," she said. "I hated having to go there."
Jones said she worried about going to a strange location at night. She also worried about her car being stolen or broken into, she said.
"I'm scared to go there at night," she said.
The atmosphere at the village post office has returned, with residents peddling up on bikes and others like Charles Rogers walking his smiling beagle, Emily.
"It's a very good thing people don't have to travel that far, because it's a close-knit community," Rogers said. "Everybody is really nice and friendly out here."
Along those lines, the community will be celebrating the re-opening of the post office during a monthly pot luck dinner Dec. 2 at the Community Club, said resident Karen Smith.
"We are one of the only communities in the country to have saved our Post Office," Smith wrote in an email, "and we know we didn't do it alone."