Local post offices face drastic cuts to hours

By Pauline Liu
According to U.S. Postal Service, several local post offices will see their hours slashed by half over the next couple of years as a way to cut costs, but still “keep the nation’s smallest post offices open for business.”  About 13,000 rural post offices will be effected. However, when the Postal Service made that announcement last Wednesday, very little if anything was said about the fate of the postmasters and clerks, whose services have helped to make their post offices important hubs for the community.

In Delaware County, the post offices in Denver, Halcottsville, Hamden and New Kingston have been designated to reduce their Monday through Saturday operations to just four hours daily. The same goes for the post offices in the Ulster County hamlets of Big Indian, Highmount and Pine Hill.  The Shandaken Post Office, however, has been cut back to six hours.

Reaction from customers was both swift and passionate. “No, absolutely no!” said Dennis Howell of Roxbury Run as he stood outside the Denver Post Office in the pouring rain. “It’s inconvenient enough just coming down here.” Attorney Bob Gould, who lives in the Denver Valley agreed. “It’s horrible,” he said. “I’m a trial lawyer and I have to go to the post office at least three times a day. Those thoughts were echoed by customers of the Halcottsville Post Office. “I think they should keep this place fully open,” said Fred Travis of Halcottsville. “It’s a vital part of the community.” Carl Tucker of Halcottville expressed concern, not only for effected customers, but also the postal workers. “I don’t think it’s fair,” he said. “This village has got to have a post office.”
While the postal employees are not permitted to discuss their fate under Postal Service’s rules, the National Association of Postmasters of the United States (NAPUS) is speaking out. According to an update posted on the union’s website, “Full-time, career postmasters will be replaced by part-time workers in these part-time offices.” NAPUS has expressed concern that the strategy is just the first step in the closing of many postal facilities. 

Implementation of the new plan is to be completed by September 2014 and it’s expected to result in a savings of a half-billion dollars annually. USPS came up with its new approach after its earlier plan to review 3,700 post offices across the country for closure was met with angry protests in some communities. “With that said, we’ve listened to our customers in rural America and we’ve heard them loud and clear – they want to keep their post office open,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.
 
  According to the Postal Service, a survey conducted in February by Opinion Research Corporation showed that 54 percent of rural customers surveyed approved of the new strategy. However, USPS has indicted that it’s continuing to consider options, including replacing the post office with a “village post office,” which would be a postal counter located inside a private business. The Postal Service funds its operations through the sales of postage, products and services. For more information about the changes now underway, log onto about.usps.com and click on “Newsroom” or savethepostoffice.com.