GLEN DALE - McMechen and Glen Dale residents opposed reduced mail service hours proposed Thursday, but U.S. Postal Service representatives said their economic situation has left them no choice.
Reducing operating hours for the communities' post offices is part of what USPS Manager of Post Office Operations Curtis Williams called the "POST Plan." The decision, though not official yet, came in response to surveys taken by residents in both cities.
"Like many businesses, the postal service is going through some tough financial times right now," said Williams. "Contrary to popular belief, we are not supported by tax dollars."
Photo by Daniel Dorsch
After discussing U.S. Postal Service changes Thursday, USPS Manager of Postal Operations Curtis Williams, left, talks with Glen Dale’s Gary Nisperly.
Williams said post offices across the nation are undergoing changes, reducing the costs of personnel, transportation and maintenance.
"Instead of closing offices, we are reducing hours of operation to maintain community presence," Williams said.
According to Williams, the postal service blames the Internet for its loss of business. It lost about $40 billion in retail transactions that instead took place on the Internet over the past few years, and those losses are not being recovered.
The survey gave residents several options: Residents had the choice of selecting a realignment of hours, which would keep local offices open but at reduced hours; shutting down local post offices and providing roadside mailbox delivery; shutting down the federal post office and letting one operate by a contractor at a local business; or shutting down post offices and letting residents seek postal services in a neighboring community.
Out of 1,416 surveys issued to Glen Dale residents, 542 were returned with 92 percent of those people voting for a realignment of hours. According to the new plan, the Glen Dale Post Office would be open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. On Saturday, the hours would be 9 a.m. to noon.
In McMechen, 951 surveys were distributed and 243 returned. Like Glen Dale, the majority of residents, 91 percent, voted for a realignment of hours. The new schedule for McMechen would be Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to noon, and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
After the plans were revealed in separate community meetings Thursday, the floor was left open for discussion. Any suggestions were recorded to be reviewed by the U.S. Postal Service, as the POST Plan has yet to go into effect. There were several negative reactions.
Rose Hart of Appalachian Outreach Inc. said she disliked the lunchtime closing in Glen Dale.
"A lot of people on lunch break have to do their post office business then," Hart said. "I would hope some consideration would be given for that."
One of only two people who showed up to discuss McMechen's postal services at 7 p.m., Susan Chincheck spoke about challenges working people could face with the post office open for only four hours a day.
"For people that actually work, this is not convenient," Chincheck said.
She noted that 8 a.m. to noon is a time when most people are working and cannot make it to the post office. Chincheck suggested that if service has to be reduced to four hours a day, the time should be split between morning and afternoon. She recommended 8-10 a.m., then 2-4 p.m.
"That way, people who work at least get a chance to make it to the post office," said Chincheck.
"We have to make changes to stay open," Williams told residents. "If we don't make decisions, there won't be a post office."