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Three county post offices could close
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Wednesday, August 03, 2011 9:12 AM

 

By NANCY WHITAKER • Progress Staff Writer

As more customers choose to conduct their postal business online, on their smart phones and at their favorite shopping destinations, the need for the U.S. Postal Service to maintain its nearly 32,000 retail offices, the largest retail network in the country, diminishes.

The Postal Service is looking at about 3,700 post offices with low sales and few customers for possible elimination as early as January, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said July 26. Most of those under review take in less than $27,500 a year and have only enough customers and mail to keep them busy two hours a day, Donahoe said.

 

Included on the list of possible closures are the post offices of Scott, Haviland and Latty.

 

Local postmasters were contacted but none were able to comment. The Progress was referred to a Postal Service spokesman in Lima, but calls were not returned by press time.

It is unclear how many postal customers in the county and how many postal employees would be affected if any or all of the three offices are closed.

The Postal Service will spend at least four months evaluating each post office. Anyone who objects to a closing has 60 days to submit comments to the Postal Service.

Proposals to close any of its estimated 31,000 post offices often meet strong resistance from communities and their representatives in Congress. In January, the Postal Service named 1,400 post offices it wanted to close; 280 are gone.

As part of this effort, the Postal Service also introduced a retail-replacement option for affected communities around the nation.

“Today, more than 35 percent of the Postal Service’s retail revenue comes from expanded access locations such as grocery stores, drug stores, office supply stores, retail chains, self-service kiosks, ATMs and usps.com, open 24/7,” said Donahoe.

“Our customers’ habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business.”

For communities currently without a postal retail office and for communities affected by these retail optimization efforts, the Postal Service introduced the Village Post Office as a potential replacement option. Village Post Offices would be operated by local businesses, such as pharmacies, grocery stores and other appropriate retailers, and would offer popular postal products and services such as stamps and flat-rate packaging.

“By working with third-party retailers, we’re creating easier, more convenient access to our products and services when and where our customers want them,” Donahoe said. “The Village Post Office will offer another way for us to meet our customers’ needs.

“The Postal Service of the future will be smaller, leaner and more competitive and it will continue to drive commerce, serve communities and deliver value,” Donahoe added.

The list of offices being studied and additional information can be found at http://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/expandedaccess/welcome.htm

What criteria are considered when studying whether or not a post office should close?

The criteria includes:

a. The effect closing a post office would have on the community served.

b. The effect closing a post office would have on the employees of the facility.

c. Compliance with government policy established by law that the Postal Service must provide maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas, communities and small towns where post offices are not self-sustaining.

d. Economic savings to the Postal Service.

e. Other factors the Postal Services deems necessary.

Will affected communities be notified? What is the process?

The communities will be notified. The process is as follows:

The residents and businesses served by the Postal Service-operated retail office will be given 60 days’ notice of a proposed action so they can provide comments. The proposal is posted in affected offices and is accompanied by an invitation for comment. After public comments are received and taken into account, any final determination to close or consolidate a Postal Service-operated retail facility must be made in writing and must include findings covering all required study criteria.

Residents and businesses must be notified at least 60 days before the closure takes effect.

Within the first 30 days after a final determination to discontinue a post office is made available, any person regularly served by a post office subject to discontinuance may appeal the decision to the Postal Regulatory Commission.

At this time, the Postal Service is only studying certain post offices, stations and branches. No decision has been made to close post offices as part of a centralized initiative led by Postal Service headquarters. Such decisions will be made later, after community input has been received.

The majority of offices to be studied would be in rural locations.

The town’s name and ZIP Code will be retained.