Local post offices may be saved

Published 9:26 am Friday, May 11, 2012

More than a dozen rural post offices surrounding Albert Lea could see a reduction in retail hours under a new proposal announced Wednesday by the U.S. Postal Service.

The proposal came after the nearly bankrupt agency had previously proposed to close thousands of rural post offices.

“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,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.

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He said he thinks the announcement will serve customers’ needs and allow the Postal Service to return to long-term financial stability.

Under the proposal, post offices in Alden, Bricelyn, Emmons, Freeborn, Frost, Geneva, Hartland, Hayward, Hollandale and Kiester would go from being open eight hours a day to four hours a day.

Ellendale and Glenville would change from eight to six hours, and Conger and Twin Lakes would change from six hours to two hours.

The local post offices are part of more than 13,000 rural mail facilities that could see reduced operations of between two and six hours a day. This will happen after a review process that is expected to take several months.

The agency will announce new changes next week involving its proposal to close up to 252 mail processing centers. After the Postal Service gets regulatory approval and hears public input sometime this fall, the new strategy would go into place over two years and be completed in September 2014.

Dale Johannsen, the postmaster in Freeborn from 1980 through 2007, said he likes the idea of reducing the post office hours rather than closing them altogether.

“I think these small communities need that post office,” Johannsen said. “Even if they cut it to four hours a day, it would still at least be part of the community.”

He said many rural towns, including Freeborn, would lose more of their identity if their post office goes away.

The Rev. Cherie Daniel said she thinks the post office is a common center for information sharing, a place where posters about upcoming soup and pie suppers, town meetings and other information are posted.

If a man or woman hasn’t been seen going in to get his or her mail, then people will wonder whether they should check on that person to make sure everything is OK.

The latest move comes as the Postal Service is pushing Congress to pass cost-saving postal legislation that includes an end to Saturday mail delivery.

The move to halt the shuttering of about 3,700 low-revenue post offices followed months of dissent from rural states and their lawmakers, who said the cost-cutting would hurt their communities the most.

Freeborn, Conger, Hayward and Twin Lakes in Freeborn County were identified as four of the offices across the country facing closure.


Changes to postal hours

Post office       Current        Proposed
retail hours     retail hours
Alden                   8                      4
Bricelyn              8                      4
Conger                6                      2
Ellendale            8                      6
Emmons             8                     4
Freeborn            8                     4
Frost                   8                     4
Geneva               8                     4
Glenville            8                     6
Hartland            8                     4
Hayward            8                     4
Hollandale        8                     4
Kiester               8                     4
Twin Lakes       6                     2