COAL RUN, Ohio (AP) -- The days of residents having to drive to the next town for their mail are nearly over.
This southeastern Ohio village's post office, destroyed by a March 13 fire, will reopen in the next two weeks, postmaster Frank Engle said.
Residents of the former coal mining community have helped the 73-year-old Engle get the new building ready. They view the post office as a way to preserve their heritage, he said.
"Coal Run has had a post office since 1839. They didn't want to lose that," said Engle, whose 71-year-old wife, Lorena, was postmaster for 27 years before he succeeded her 12 years ago.
The post office also is a gathering place in the Washington County village about 10 miles northwest of Marietta and about 80 miles southeast of Columbus.
"We got a loafing bench, and people come in and talk and have a good time in the mornings. One guy brings the coffee every morning for everybody," said Engle, who works as a private contractor for the U.S. Postal Service.
Since the fire, the 57 residents who rent postal boxes in Coal Run have been driving 8 miles round-trip to neighboring Beverly to pick up their mail. There is no home delivery.
Engle estimates he has spent $5,500 on the new post office -- a 12-foot-by-20-foot Amish-built building -- and materials including windows, insulation and drywall. He and his wife owned the building that housed the former post office.
The new building's curtains were made by resident Michelle Gulbran, who sewed them from a red-white-and-blue postage stamp pattern she bought at Wal-Mart.
Once she brought the material home, the 65-year-old seamstress realized the pattern was that of the special stamp the postal service issued to commemorate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"It just grabbed my heart," she said.