USPS may slash rural post office hours to avoid closings - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

USPS may slash rural post office hours to avoid closings

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GILBERTVILLE (KWWL) -

The US Post Office has come up with a plan they hope will save 13,000 rural post offices, including 178 right here in Iowa.

Wednesday, the Postmaster General announced a plan that would cut back hours of those post offices rather than closing them.  It's a mix of good and bad news for those in small communities.

Several eastern Iowa post offices could go from being open eight hours a day, to as little as two hours.  It will likely be an inconvenience for residents of the affected communities, but many are just glad these small post offices will be keeping their doors open.

Kay Delagardelle makes regular trips to and from the post office in her hometown of Gilbertville. That office is one of nearly 200 rural mail centers that could see its hours cut.  In Gilbertville, the US Postal Service is proposing it go from being open 8 hours a day, down to just 4.

"It's just an inconvenience, but it's better than having nothing," said Delagardelle.

John Fettkether feels the same way.

"Oh it'd be much better because I'd have to jump in my car and go up to wherever the nearest one would be at, and I'd sure hate to see it be closed," Fettkether said.

After all, the post office is often a cornerstone of many small towns like this.  But trimming hours in Gilbertville could have a wider impact.   The reduction in hours could be another blow to neighboring communities like Evansdale, which has already seen its post office close.  But the US Postal Service insists offices like it just aren't needed that much anymore as people find other ways to do their mailing business.

"Our customers are more frequently buying stamps and other postal services where they buy a gallon of milk, loaf of bread, their dry cleaners, convenience stores, or going online to USPS.com.  In fact, 40 percent of postal retail income comes to us from sources other than traditional post offices," said Richard Watkins, USPS spokesperson.

And the post office says its proposal on how much to cut back hours at rural locations is based on customer volumes, so reducing operating hours just makes sense.

"At some locations, we're in effect paying a post master to be on call, if you will, to sell a handful of stamps.  And some rural post offices are down to five or six transactions a day.  We just can't sustain that," Watkins said.

You can view the entire list of the proposals for hour reductions at rural post offices here.  The USPS says changes won't happen until at least after Labor Day.

 

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