Post office options

As a part of the Post Plan, a few area post offices are slated for possible reduced retail window hours to help cut costs for the United States Postal Service.

The Post Plan, implemented in May 2012, curtails hours of small, and some rural, post offices across the country. The USPS created the plan after recording financial losses totaling $26 billion over the last three years.

David Van Allen, regional spokesman for the USPS, said residents of Little Hocking have been mailed surveys of options for the post office, including reduced hours. While the goal of the plan is not to close post offices, if residents elect to get mail via delivery instead of through post office boxes, that is an option.

“There are 13,000 smaller post offices around the country,” Van Allen said. “In order to preserve them and keep them open, (the plan is) designed to realign hours to match the actual customer usage. In some cases, that means reducing hours.”

Another local post office slated for possible reduction in hours is the Newport Post Office. Van Allen said a public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 14 in the Newport Community Building.

The Little Hocking Post Office is currently open six-and-a-half hours a day, but if residents elect for reduced hours, that could drop to four hours a day, said Van Allen.

“Access to post office boxes will remain the same as it is now,” he said.

Little Hocking resident Mary Lou Beikirch said she filled out her survey and is now waiting impatiently for the public meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department.

“If they have to cut the hours to four hours a day, that would be fine,” Beikirch said, adding, “I live in an undeliverable area. I’m a matter of yards, two streets, (to those) who get delivery. They will not put a mailbox at my house. I know that meeting’s coming up, and I will be there.”

Beikirch said for that reason, and a few others, she really hopes the post office doesn’t close.

“Hopefully it will stay open; a lot of people are in and out of there all day long,” she said. “I know our people who have jobs here would like to keep them…Hopefully we don’t lose it.”

There is one employee at the Little Hocking Post Office, said Van Allen.

He said while it is rare for a post office to close, it can happen.

“There have been a couple,” he said. “In other towns, (residents) chose to get delivery. It’s very rare and it’s up to them.”

In years past, local post offices that have closed include those in Barlow, Constitution, Coal Run, Dart, Elba, Fleming, Moss Run, Rockland, Stanleyville and Wingett Run.

Van Allen said in the last decade, no county post offices have closed, but hours have been reduced in some, including Cutler, Lower Salem, Whipple and Bartlett, down to four hours, and Waterford, down to six hours.

The post office in Watertown is a Community Post Office (CPO), which operates under a contract by employees not affiliated with the USPS, said Van Allen.

Like Beikirch, Loran Conley, 60, of Little Hocking, said four hours is better than no hours.

“I think four hours is OK, as long as there’s Saturdays,” she said. “(The post office) doesn’t have a lot of business there. You know, it’s just too bad that everything’s gone the way it has with the Internet, but what are you going to do?”

Despite that, Conley said she’d like to see a specific set of hours.

“I think the hours should be afternoon, or maybe 2 to 6 (p.m.),” Conley said. “Those would be good hours. People can get in and get the stamps they need, and mail packages. Saturday mornings would also be good; as long as they don’t close.”