Hagan lobbies USPS

Published 10:11 am Wednesday, August 10, 2011

One U.S. Senator is asking United States Postal Service (USPS) officials to take a second look at all options before shutting down post offices.

Following the USPS announcement on July 26 that 20 North Carolina post offices face potential closure, Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) sent a letter last week to the Postmaster General urging the USPS to give her constituents in each community a chance to voice their concerns before any final decisions are made.

On the USPS list for possible closure are three Roanoke-Chowan area post offices – Pendleton, Severn and Roduco. The USPS had earlier announced the Dec. 31 closure of the Potecasi Post Office. Additionally, the Conway Post Office, while still open, has been targeted for cutbacks, specifically losing direct delivery and collection by USPS trucks. The Conway mail is now re-routed through the Murfreesboro Post Office.

“Post offices provide communities with more than just stamps and package pick-up services,” Hagan wrote in her letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. “Many post office locations are gathering centers and lifelines for the communities they serve. This is especially true for our rural communities in North Carolina, which seem to bear the brunt disproportionally of each economic challenge the nation encounters, including the current downturn.”

She continued, “As the process of reviewing each postal location in North Carolina begins, I strongly urge the USPS to ensure that each affected community receives a robust and fair opportunity to participate in the process and to provide input and feedback. Accordingly, the USPS should consider fully, and with an open mind, these community comments and concerns when making a final decision with respect to each location.”

According to USPS officials, as more customers choose to conduct their postal business online, on their smart phones and at their favorite shopping destinations, the need for the USPS to maintain its nearly 32,000 retail offices — the largest retail network in the country — diminishes. To that end, USPS officials recently announced they will be taking the next step in right-sizing its expansive retail network by conducting studies of approximately 3,700 retail offices to determine customer needs.

“Today, more than 35 percent of the Postal Service’s retail revenue comes from expanded access locations such as grocery stores, drug stores, office supply stores, retail chains, self-service kiosks, ATMs and usps.com, open 24/7,” said Postmaster General Donahoe. “Our customer’s habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business.”

For communities currently without a postal retail office and for communities affected by these retail optimization efforts, USPS is introducing the Village Post Office as a potential replacement option. Village Post Offices would be operated by local businesses, such as pharmacies, grocery stores and other appropriate retailers, and would offer popular postal products and services such as stamps and flat-rate packaging.

“By working with third-party retailers, we’re creating easier, more convenient access to our products and services when and where our customers want them,” Donahoe said. “The Village Post Office will offer another way for us to meet our customers’ needs.”

With 32,000 postal retail offices and more than 70,000 third-party retailers — Approved Postal Providers — selling postage stamps and providing expanded access to other postal products and services, customers today have about 100,000 locations across the nation where they can do business with the Postal Service.

“The Postal Service of the future will be smaller, leaner and more competitive and it will continue to drive commerce, serve communities and deliver value,” Donahoe added.

However, small communities such as Roduco, Potecasi and Pendleton do not have retail outlets to join the ranks of a Village Post Office.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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