Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

October 19, 2012

Postal patrons get rare opportunity to weigh in

In surveys that Old Mission Peninsula residents and the patrons of 350 smaller, mostly rural post offices in Michigan began filling out in September, the Postal Service outlined four different options for reduced services beginning in January.

The service, which is facing massive financial problems, had decided in 2011 against closing thousands of small post offices nationwide and instead chose to either reduce hours or let communities pick a preferred option.

On Old Mission, nine out of 10 respondents chose to keep the counter open four hours a day, according to Nancy Warne, Old Mission's officer in charge of the post office, so a Wednesday meeting with postal officials focused on other changes. Similar meetings were held in Omena and Buckley Wednesday.

Hours are scheduled to drop from eight to four per day, Monday through Friday. Saturday hours will remain unchanged.

While Old Mission and other communities will no longer have a full-time post office, it may well prove that part-time hours, including regular hours on Saturday, will be enough.

In fact, the Postal Service may eventually find out that the whole concept of service reductions instead of an all-or-nothing plan could have worked all along and saved taxpayers untold billions along the way.

While full-service gas stations were a perk Americans took for granted a generation or more ago, we've found out we can get along just fine without them. Although it's nice to be able to just drop into the post office, patrons will soon remember to work the reduced hours — or whatever new plan agreed to at individual locations — into their daily schedule.

Postal officials said they plan to upgrade the Old Mission office so customers with a post office box can have 24-hour access. To think it took until 2012 to figure that out is a sorry comment.

The cost of a stamp won't go down because the post office is going to reduced hours, but at least the service will exist, and for now that matters.

While companies like FedEx or UPS can out-compete the Postal Service in a lot of ways, don't expect to see them get into the letter-delivery business. Until all mail is electronic, we'll need some variation of the local post office.

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Omena will drop counter service to four hours a day; a final decision is pending in Buckley, which faces a two-hour reduction.

Other meetings and proposed hours per day include: Arcadia, 6; Filer City, 4; Onekama, 6; Kaleva, 6; Alba, 4; Copemish, 4; Eastport, 6; Maple City, 6; Mayfield, 4; South Boardman, 4; Thompsonville, 4, and Ellsworth, 6.

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