The U.S. Postal Service announced on Wednesday that it plans to save money by reducing the hours of operation of rural post offices rather than closing some of them down altogether. The rural post offices up for review last fall will remain open but will see reduced hours in the next two years.
A list of almost 13,000 affected rural post offices throughout the country, available at www.usps.com/news, suggests 14 local offices as candidates for cost savings. It proposes to reduce hours of operation in Barton City, Curran, and Long Lake post offices to two hours a day; Glennie, Greenbush, Herron, Lachine and Mikado offices to four hours; and Hubbard Lake, Lincoln, Millersburg, Posen, Presque Isle and Spruce offices to six hours. USPS spokeswoman Sabrina Todd said support from patrons of rural locations prompted USPS to re-evaluate its initial plan to close some of its offices, and reducing their hours is a viable compromise that might still keep operations afloat.
"It's going to preserve rural post offices by modifying their retail hours to match customer use. Zip code and community identity would be retained," she said. "We won't be able to keep the post offices open an entire eight hours a day, but the community would be able to weigh in on whether or not to keep the office open for two hours or four hours or six hours, and it's going to be determined based on the customer traffic that walks in. But this does keep the post offices in those communities and keeps the post offices open, maybe just at a smaller window each day."
News Photo by Andrew Westrope
The Alpena Post Office was not listed among the nearly 13,000 for which the U.S. Postal Service intends to reduce hours, though more than a dozen others in Northeast Michigan were. Barton City, Curran, Glennie, Greenbush, Herron, Hubbard Lake, Lachine, Lincoln, Long Lake, Millersburg, Posen, Presque Isle and Spruce post offices are expected to change daily operations to two to six hours a day within the next two years.
Residents of affected communities will be notified by mail of the dates and times of local meetings to discuss hour changes and other options, including setting up mail delivery through rural carriers or highway contract routes; contracting with a local business to create a Village Post Office; and offering service from a nearby post office. Todd said the USPS still needs to formalize and file a plan with the Postal Regulatory Commission, and any changes would almost certainly take effect after Labor Day. USPS intends to phase in the changes through September 2014, beyond which point it expects to save a half-billion dollars a year.
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.