USPS makes changes at local post offices

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is making some behind-the-scenes changes at area post offices that are aimed at lowering USPS costs without impacting customers.

Rural route mail carriers are being consolidated at some of the larger post offices, including the Cassville location, which will handle mail for Exeter's rural routes. Mail routes will not change, and no carriers are being eliminated at this time.

"We are just moving our carriers around, which the post office has the right to do," said Richard Watkins, of the USPS corporate communications office in Kansas City. "We work our offices to make changes that make the postal service most efficient.

"There will not be any impact to any of our services or retail business," said Watkins. "If we make changes that impact our customers, it is our policy to notify our customers."

By consolidating the rural route mail to fewer post office locations, USPS will have the opportunity to shorten its highway contract routes, which are administered by independent trucking firms. The highway contract route drivers are not employed by USPS.

"These are the trucks that transport the mail to the post offices early in the morning and get the mail prepped for the carriers," said Watkins. "The rural routes will not change, but instead of hiring a trucking firm to make six to eight delivers each day, we will hire them to make only one to three deliveries.

"That is the short-term benefit," said Watkins. "The long-term benefit is that now our post offices will have fewer employees working out of some of those smaller offices, 75 percent of which are leased. We will not have the back-end operations at those offices, so we will need less space."

Over the next few years, the USPS will likely renegotiate lease contracts for post office facilities, and some offices could be moved to smaller locations.

USPS currently operates the Washburn Post Office in the Washburn Community Building. The lease for the space will expire on Jan. 31, 2012.

"I can't say if that post office will be moved," said Watkins. "All of our lease contracts are negotiated by facility and contract specialists.

"I know that there is a greater sense of urgency given to changes made by the Postal Service due to its current financial situation, but right now, we are just relocating the carriers," said Watkins. "If we do consider closing a post office, we will let the community know."

Although USPS has no plans to close any southern Barry County post offices at this time, those plans are subject to change, said Watkins.

"There are no guarantees going forward," said Watkins. "But right now, our customers shouldn't see any major changes. Some people might get their mail a little earlier or later in the day, but most will see no change at all."

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