2012-05-17 / Front Page

Rural Post Offices To Stay Open

Three northern county post offices face reduced hours
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz
STAFF WRITER

After months and months of writing letters, collecting signatures and making phone calls, Wells Tannery residents received some happy news last week regarding the future of their small, village post office.

In a public announcement last Wednesday, the United States Postal Service revealed its newest cost-saving plan aimed at saving thousands of “low revenue,” rural post offices from closure by reducing their daily hours of operation. Hours at certain post offices, including previously targeted Wells Tannery and Crystal Spring, as well as Waterfall, are slated to be altered in the near future.

The proposed changes would cut daily operation hours in Wells Tannery and Crystal Spring by 50 percent, from eight hours to only four. In Waterfall, postal patrons are scheduled to lose two hours daily.

While many would consider four-hour cuts drastic, residents in Wells Tannery were pleased to hear their post office, operated by officer-in-charge Bonnie Pittman, will remain open for the time being. Spearheading the effort to keep the post office in operation were Carolyn Mosebey and Byron Helsel.

According to reports, Mosebey had been pushing on behalf of fellow Wells Tannery residents for months, writing letters on a weekly basis to USPS officials and state-and-federal-elected officials. Mosebey also circulated petitions for submission to USPS and could even be seen on election day working outside the polls, gathering signatures for the worthy cause.

“She really worked hard and continued to beat the bushes,” Helsel told the “News” about Mosebey.

Helsel said he was personally very happy about the decision to keep the Wells Tannery post office in operation even if it meant having reduced hours. Four hours, he said, would certainly meet the needs of the local residents.

“If you lose it (the post office) all together, you’ll never get it back,” he said. “However, as our needs increase, maybe we can also get an increase in hours.”

“With all of the work we did, it makes you feel like you did something good and right,” said Helsel, who gave credit to elected officials for hearing the concerns of residents and relaying those issues to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. “The Senate really responded. They’re probably not accustomed to receiving that many petitions and letters.”

Approximately 3,700 post offices had been previously targeted by the Postal Service for closure. The new plan could result in more than 13,000 mail facilities seeing a reduction in hours of between two and six hours a day.

It is currently unknown when the changes will take effect here or if the local postmasters and officers in charge will have a say in which hours are cut daily. However, local officials are predicting a quick turnaround time even though the review process is reportedly slated to take several months.

Last week’s announcement was aired as the Postal Service continues to push Congress to enact legislation that would allow the agency to save money. Included in that specific legislation is a plan to end Saturday mail delivery service.

The Postal Service is forecasting a record loss of $14.1 billion by the conclusion of this year. In the event additional changes are not implemented in the future, the agency’s annual loss could exceed $21 billion by the year 2016.

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