Small post offices stay open

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, May 10, 2012

People in outlying areas of Pike and surrounding counties may be able to keep their local post offices as part of a new strategy proposed by the United States Postal Service.

Post offices in Banks, Goshen, Pine Level, Glenwood, Ramer, Grady and Clio will be saved under the new plan to cut back retail hours at those locations.

“This is really good news,” said Debra Fetterly, USPS communications specialist for Alabama. “These are post offices we were thinking of closing.”

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Eight different criteria were used to determine if a post office would be considered for closure, including low revenue, proximity to another office and if any local store sold stamps or other products. Fetterly said an office can not be closed solely due to lack of revenue.

Instead of closing the offices, the USPS developed a plan that reduces hours of retail window operations by two to six hours each day. Access to the retail lobby and post office boxes will remained unaltered.

Fetterly said the USPS website has posted possible hours each office will operate, but those are subject to change.

“We still have to iron out a few things,” she said. “It’s a bit of a compromise, so we are looking at what is best.”

Fetterly said that the hours will likely be staggered to compliment hours at nearby operations. That way if someone can’t make it to the local office during the cutback hours, they can still mail packages and letters.

In February, a survey by Opinion Research Corporation showed that 54 percent of rural customers would prefer the new strategy over other options presented, including the creation of a Village Post Office at an already-established business.

“We’ve heard from our customers that they want their post offices to remain open,” Fetterly said.

The new strategy will be implemented over a two-year, multi-phased approach that will be completed by September 2014.

The USPS estimates that by reducing operation hours they will save half a billion dollars each year.