Time’s Up for Post Offices; Plan Would Cut Hours

VALLEY GROVE – Ohio Valley residents who use rural post offices are giving mixed reviews of the United States Postal Service’s plan to reduce hours of operation at the facilities.

Valley Grove resident Patty Naumann would rather see the village’s post office stay open seven hours a day – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – to accommodate the senior citizens. But if the postal service has its way, the Valley Grove Post Office, along with hundreds of others across the country, will operate with reduced hours starting in 2014. The postal service had been considering closing some offices. The Valley Grove office would be open four hours per day. Others would operate two, four or six hours a day.

“They take an hour and a half lunch break – they could do away with that,” Naumann said. “And they could do away with Saturdays. … Four hours would be such an inconvenience.”

Naumann, who is the village clerk, noted in Valley Grove the postal service rents its space from the village for $420 a month. The space is connected to the village offices/community building.

“We’ve never raised their rent and they don’t pay any utilities. We even change the light bulbs. They can’t say they have any overhead,” she said, noting the postmaster’s salary would be the exception.

Many seniors would rather mail their bills at the post office instead of using their home boxes because they don’t want to leave checks unattended, Naumann said.

In neighboring Triadelphia, where service would be reduced to six hours a day, resident Jason McCoy said he wouldn’t mind fewer hours to use town’s post office. He would do his business first thing in the morning, as he lives nearby.

“I would rather they cut Saturdays than cut people’s jobs,” McCoy said.

Naumann noted the USPS has scheduled a public meeting on the matter for 5:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Valley Grove Community Center, 3470 National Road.

In Belmont County at the Lansing Post Office, where hours would be reduced to six daily, Virginia and Eugene Paoletti said they would rather see hours reduced than their post office be closed.

“That’s what we’re afraid of. We hate to see it go,” she said.

But fewer hours would interrupt their routine, Virginia Paoletti noted. And using a post office box is easier than trying to reach their mailbox at home. The Lansing Post Office is located along U.S. 40 with parking in front of the building.

Blaine residents Dave Ward Sr. and his son, Dave Ward Jr., said they prefer to use the Lansing Post Office instead of the Blaine facility, which is proposed to operate two hours a day. Ward Sr. uses the post office to deliver eBay items, but still has mail delivered to his home. Ward Jr. uses a P.O. box.

“This one is nice and we don’t have to go to the big one in Bridgeport. I live in Blaine but I still come here,” Ward Sr. said. “With the eBay packages it’s easier for me here because I don’t have to print out the shipping labels.”

Ward Jr. said a reduced hours would not impact him much.

“I’m more about saving money. … It would bad for him but not for me,” Ward Jr. said of his father, adding he also doesn’t want to see postal workers lose their jobs.

“My main concern with the USPS is that someday soon, if nothing is done and the U.S government stands by and is inactive in finding solutions for this problem, the American people will have to bail them out,” he added.

Bridgeport resident Jodie Clark does not want reduced hours at the Lansing office.

“It sucks,” Clark said of the plan. “This is my favorite post office. … They help you out and they don’t blow you off.”

She noted Lansing’s 7:30 a.m. starting time is better for her schedule. After taking her children to school, she stops at the post office. At the Blaine Post Office, former Blaine postmaster June Bossell, who retired seven years ago, was getting her bills ready to be mailed. Bossell does not understand how it will operate on two hours a day. She also is concerned the USPS’ future

“They’re trying to save money, but how are they going to make money? You can’t make money if you’re closed,” Bossell said.

Belmont resident Jackie McCombs uses the Blaine office for work-related mail and doesn’t believe two hours a day is enough for anyone.

“I think they need to find a better way to finance it. … You can’t make it to the post office in two hours,” she said.

John Burdock, Barton Volunteer Fire Department president, said he would rather see Barton’s hours reduced than it close. The post office is proposed to operate four hours a day.

“If it shut down it would be like the community losing its identity,” he said.

Barton resident Jackie Smolenack said having a P.O. box is convenient for her, but she is not opposed to reduced hours. She noted it serves as a gathering place for retirees who chat there in the morning.

“We thought we were going to lose it in the flood, but they brought us another one,” Smolenack said of the trailer used to house the operation.

USPS spokesman David Van Allen said public hearings are being scheduled. People should call their post office to determine when the meetings are slated. In addition to the Valley Grove meeting, two others have been announced: Powhatan Point, 5 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Village Building; and Yorkville, 5 p.m. Nov. 14, Yorkville Fire Department.

Following is a list of local post offices and proposed hours:

Adena, six; Alledonia, two; Alma, four; Amsterdam, six; Bannock, two; Barton, four; Beallsville, six; Beech Bottom, four; Benwood, four; Bergholz, six; Bethany, four; Blaine, two; Bowerston, six; Brilliant, six; Cameron, two; Clarington, six; Colerain, four; Colliers, four; Dallas, two; Deersville, two; East Springfield, four; Empire, four; Friendly, four; Glencoe, two; Glen Dale, six; Glen Easton, four; Hammondsville, four; Hannibal, four; Harrisville, four; Holloway, six; Hundred, six; Irondale, four; Jacksonburg, four; Jacobsburg, six; Jerusalem, four; Jewett, six; Lansing, six; Lafferty, four; Maynard, two; Morristown, four; Mount Pleasant, four; Neffs, four; New Athens, four; New Manchester, six; Newell, four; Piedmont, four; Pine Grove, six; Powhatan Point, six; Proctor, six; Reader, six; Scio, six; Shirley, two; Short Creek, two; Smithfield, Ohio, six; Smithfield, W.Va., four; Stratton, four; Tiltonsville, four; Triadelphia, six; Valley Grove, four; Warnock, two; Windsor Heights, four; Yorkville, four;