Post office changes could come

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Changes may be coming to four rural post offices in the Covington County area.

The Postal Service is moving forward with a plan to keep post offices across the country open by realigning retail window hours based on customer use, said spokesperson Debbie Fetterly. “The process to implement the plan (known as POSTPlan) is being conducted in a multi-phased approach over two years, to be completed in September 2014.”

Postal services officials will conduct meetings at Red Level, River Falls, Gantt and Dozier.

In early September, each of the Postal Service’s 67 districts began the two-year nationwide process of notifying affected communities of the changed hours of operations of local post offices and other options available.

“Residents in these communities received a survey requesting a preference for one of four options available regarding the future status of their post office and a letter notifying them of the date, time and location of a community meeting,” Fetterly said. “At the meeting, local postal officials will share the results of the survey and answered questions.”

The following are the list of options available to residents in the communities:

• Keep the post office open, based on actual office workload. For example, hours would be reduced from eight hours a day to four hours a day. Current Saturday hours would remain the same, and access to delivery receptacles would not be impacted.

• Conduct a discontinuance study for the office and offer roadside mailbox delivery. Retail and delivery service would be provided through a rural carrier. Mail delivery points will be established and customers can purchase most postal services through the carrier.

• Conduct a discontinuance study for the office and find an alternative location operated by a contractor, usually at a local business. The business would offer stamps and flat rate products with service hours generally more expansive than what the local post office will be able to offer.

• Conduct a discontinuance study for the office and provide post office box service via another nearby post office and relocate the post office box delivery to that post office.

Fetterly said that post offices evaluated under the POSTPlan will remain open with realigned hours unless a community has a strong preference for one of the other options.

“Meanwhile to better serve our customers, the Postal Service continues to pursue the establishment of the Village Post Office (VPO) in the communities affected by these changes and in other areas across the country, including communities with post offices,” Fetterly said. “VPOs may be established in convenience stores, other local businesses, libraries, etc. – and are managed by the proprietors.”

Meetings will be held at the following locations.

• Gantt Town Hall, Tues., Oct. 16, 5 p.m.;

• Red Level Community Center, Tues., Oct. 23, 6 p.m.;

• River Falls Baptist Church, Thurs., Oct. 25, 6 p.m.

• Dozier’s Jan Cook Community Center, Thurs., Oct. 25, 5 p.m.