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If postal officials give their final stamp of approval this week, a new community post office will be delivered to Main Street by Feb. 15.

"We fully expect to open a community office in the general vicinity of the old one," said Manchester Postmaster Jack D. Francis, who is responsible for overseeing mail operations in this community of 200.

Since the August closing of its one-room post office after a criminal investigation into the alleged theft of postal receipts, this three-street rural outpost along the Pennsylvania border has been without its sole source of post office boxes, postage stamps and other mail services.

But that is about to change, Francis said last week. And while he won't divulge the name or address of the new contractor, he said the post office would open by mid-February.

The community's one-room post office, run out of an addition to a house in the 4200block of Main Street, was operated by Barbara J. Hossler. The 31-year-old was charged in August with stealing more than $615 in postal receipts.

Hossler had operated the post office since September 1987,providing box rentals for 120 customers here and selling stamps and other postal items.

County court records say she was charged with using money from the sale of stamps and money orders for a $358 payment on Hossler's husband's pickup and other unspecified household expenses.

She has filed a motion in Carroll County Circuit Court to dismiss the charges against her; that motion will be considered on Feb.26.

A trial on the felony theft charges is set for March 23. If convicted, Hossler could be sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined up to $1,000.

Her home, which she and her husband purchased for $85,000 in August 1987, recently was sold back to Taneytown Bank and Trust Co., after the Hossler's defaulted on a home-equity loan through the bank.

Since the closure of the Lineboro post office, box holders -- as well as anyone wanting Express Mail, a roll of stamps or postal money orders -- have had to drive five miles to Manchester.

Residents here have said the closing of the community post office was asurprise and has become an inconvenience.

Three people in town had expressed interest in running the community post office, Francis said.

The facility is expected to handle about 1,000 pieces of mail a week.

Details of the contract were not released by Francis last week.

However, he said that Hossler, whose three-year contract wassevered after her arrest, was paid $9,057 a year to run the office.

The closure of the facility here was believed to be the county's first caused by a theft charge, postal inspectors said.

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