FRANKLIN - About two dozen people filled the Franklin Fire Hall Tuesday afternoon to learn about the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) plans to reduce retail hours at the local post office to four hours a day.
Trivonda Ray, USPS Operations Manager in Minneapolis, said the Post Plan to cut retail window hours to 8 to 10 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. weekdays and 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Saturday gives communities the chance to keep their post offices instead of closing them.
"A year ago, we were having meetings about closing post offices," Ray said. "We learned that post offices are important meeting places in small towns and that people want them to remain open."
Ray said post offices are facing severe financial challenges and are not tax supported as some people may believe.
"We're facing cuts in personnel, maintenance and transportation costs," Ray said. "Executive salaries are frozen. Smaller post offices are getting seeing two, four and six hours of retail service a day as a way to save money."
Ray said postal customers are encouraged to do business online by visiting usps.com where they can buy stamps and deliver packages at lower rates than at a post office retail counters.
She said a recent post office survey mailed to 356 customers showed 133 (94 percent) of respondents favored (retail service) hour realignment, eight (6 percent) favored different delivery options and nobody favored a Village Post Office (retail window at another business), or a nearby post office option.
Saturday window service hours and delivery receptacle access will not change due to the hour realignment notice, expected to be posted online and at the Franklin Post Office within a week. The change is expected to take effect within 30 to 60 days after the notice is publicized.
Among those at the meeting was Rollie McGraw, who served as Franklin Postmaster from 1974 to 1999.
"Our post office still does a lot of business," McGraw said, after the meeting. "We've still got a telephone company, elementary school, insurance firm and nursing home here that generate lots of mail."
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).