Postal Service unveils plan to save rural branches

Published 2:03 pm Monday, May 14, 2012

Several local Post Offices listed among those slated for closure during the past year may be saved thanks to a new plan announced last week by the United States Postal Service.

Last year, Glenwood, Panola, Dozier, Highland Home, Honoraville, Lapine and Rutledge were listed as some of the 3,653 branches that would possibly be targeted for closure in a cost-cutting measure.

Last week, the USPS unveiled a plan that would keep the existing Post Offices in place, but with modified retail window hours to match customer use.

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Access to the retail lobby and P.O. Boxes would remain unchanged, and the town’s zip code and community identity would be retained.

“Meeting the needs of postal customers is, and will always be, a top priority,” said Postmaster General and CEO Patrick Donahoe. “We continue to balance that by better aligning service options with customer demand and reducing the cost to service.

“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. We believe (Wednesday’s) announcement will serve our customer’s needs and allow us to achieve real savings to help the Postal Service return to long-term financial stability.”

The new strategy is expected to be implemented over a two-year, multi-phased approach and would not be completed until September 2014.

Postal officials estimate that once completed, it should see a saving of a half billion dollars annually.

“The Postal Service is committed to serving America’s communities and providing a responsible and fair approach for our employees and customers,” said Megan Brennan, chief operating officer. “The Post Offices in rural America will remain open unless a community has a strong preference for one of the other options. We will not close any of these rural Post Offices without having provided a viable solution.”

The new option complements existing alternatives, which include:

• Providing mail delivery service to residents and businesses in the affected community by either rural carrier or highway contract route;

• Contracting with a local business to create a Village Post Office; and

• Offering service from a nearby Post Office.

The Postal Regulatory Commission will review the strategy before changes are implemented.