USPS representative Babette Lee spoke to citizens at the Meadows of Dan meeting.
Post office hours at Meadows of Dan, Woolwine expected to be reduced
Residents of Meadows of Dan and Woolwine attended meetings with representatives of the United States Postal Service (USPS) recently to discuss concerns about probable reductions in hours the post office windows are open in those communities.
Weekday hours for retail windows to be open are expected to be reduced from eight to six hours, with Saturday hours basically remaining the same.
The postal representatives also discussed the results of surveys returned by area residents, which were overwhelmingly in favor of "realignment of hours" rather than the alternatives: closing the post office or moving mail services to another facility such as a retail store (called a "village post office" by the USPS) or a "nearby" post office.
The Meadows of Dan Post Office mailed out 1,043 surveys and had 371 returned, the survey results summary stated.
"Realignment of hours" was preferred by 336 respondents, or 91%, with nine people or 2% in favor of "delivery options," two people or 1% favoring the "village post office option," and 23 people, or 6%, making no selection.
"After reviewing the surveys that were returned and taking into account Postal Service operational needs," retail hours for this location will likely be Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with lunch from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday, 8:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., the survey summary said.
Total Saturday window service hours will not be reduced, and access to delivery receptacles (post office boxes) will not change, according to the summary.
The Woolwine Post Office mailed out 486 surveys and received 158 responses.
"Realignment of hours" was preferred by 140 people, or 89%; seven favored the "delivery option;" two options got zero responses, and 11 respondents, or 7%, made no selection.
According to the survey summary, the retail hours for the Woolwine P.O. will likely be Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Babette Lee, postal service representative from Roanoke, and Amy Haas, former Woolwine postmaster and current Huddleston postmaster, attended both meetings. Angie M. Hall, field representative for Congressman Morgan Griffith, and Smith River District Supervisor Crystal Harris also attended the Woolwine meeting.
Connie Wood, former Woolwine postmaster, said about 20 people attended that meeting.
"There was no real objection to the potential retail operating hours as long as they do not lead to the eventual closing their community's post office," Wood said.
People were concerned about the elderly in remote, rural areas not having access to a community post office, the potential reduction in property values if there were no post office, and other issues.
"It was stressed that if you want to keep your post office, use your post office," Wood said.
Residents also expressed concerns about the possibility of the Roanoke Mail Processing Center being moved to the Greensboro, N.C., plant. Lee said the 24-hour turnaround of mail would still be a mandate.
She said there is also a possibility that the plant in Roanoke would continue to operate for the 240-241 zip codes.
Someone at the Meadows of Dan meeting asked how much additional revenue the post office would need to keep full-time hours. Lee said she didn't know but would try to get that information.
Community members expressed concerns about what would happen to Suzanne Rorrer, the current Meadows of Dan postmaster, if her job goes to part-time.
Lee said jobs are open throughout the postal system with some only open to postmasters and others just for current postal employees. The USPS is currently asking employees about taking early retirement, Lee said.
Rorrer said some of the work she does not will probably be transferred to the Stuart office, and she will be working under that office when the hours are cut.
Participants at both meetings noted that the mileage numbers between post offices, listed on the survey results, are incorrect--especially the supposed distance of seven miles between Meadows of Dan and Woolwine.
Haas told the Meadows of Dan group that the distance between her home in Stanleytown and the Meadows of Dan P.O. is 24 miles, making the seven-mile distance questionable.
The crowd agreed that you would have to go down Rock Castle Gorge (which doesn't have a real road) or fall off the wall at Lovers' Leap to make it close to seven miles from Meadows of Dan to Woolwine.
The current USPS move to cut retail hours in rural post offices is apparently happening statewide, with meetings reported in other localities.
The Claudville Post Office had its window hours cut, effective Nov. 2, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and reopening from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Saturday hours are 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.