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Ironton Post Office could see reduced hours

IRONTON - Ironton's post office could see more time shaved off its retail operating hours.

The United States Postal Service has proposed cutting back from 6.25 hours a day to six hours. Should a majority of residents request it, however, the Postal Service may conduct a discontinuance study on the office instead.

In a survey recently sent to Ironton residents, the Postal Service asked people to weigh in on the six hour proposal. Residents could also say if they'd prefer the Postal Service look into one of three options, all possibly leading to the Ironton building closing its doors:

• Conduct a discontinuance study and provide roadside mailbox delivery. Retail and delivery service would be provided through a rural carrier.

• Conduct a discontinuance study and find an alternate location operated by a contractor, usually at a local business.

• Conduct a discontinuance study and relocate the P.O. Box service to a nearby post office.

Results of the survey will be discussed at a public meeting July 24. There, Postal Service officials will gather more input and opinions on the future of the office.

"The final decision will be made by the Postal Service based on the results of the surveys and additional input from the community meeting, about a week following the meeting. Changes will go into effect approximately 30 days after that," said Pete Nowacki, spokesman for the Postal Service.

The Postal Service's plan to shave off 15 minutes a day from the operating hours may not seem like much, but it's all part of a bigger plan.

"Even though this change is relatively small, we employ the same contact process for each community impacted," Nowacki said.

Ironton is one 13,000 post offices nationwide in this program, and once each unit is cut back in hours, the annual savings is about $500 million, he said.

If the weekday hours are changed, Saturday hours will stay the same and access to delivery receptacles will not be reduced.

The option of opening a Village Post Office (VPO) is becoming more frequent in the communities affected by these changes and in other areas across the country, including communities with post offices, Nowacki said.

They could be set up in convenience stores, other local businesses, libraries, and are managed by the operators.

Since 2012, more than 600 VPOs have opened nationwide.

About Post Plan:

Post Plan was announced in May 2012 as a way to keep Post Offices across the country open by realigning retail window hours based on customer use. The Postal Service stated that Post Plan would be implemented methodically over a two-year period in a multi-phased process and would be completed in September 2014. The timeline has been extended and the Post Plan program now will be finalized in early January 2015.

Since the program was announced more than two years ago, 9,166 post offices have had retail operating hours adjusted.

• 3,009 offices are now 6-hour offices

• 4,900 offices are now 4-hour offices

• 1,257 offices are now 2-hour offices

Source:United States Postal Service

Jessie Perrine
Jessie covers the Brainerd City Council and the Brainerd School Board. Born and raised in southern Minnesota, Jessie attended Winona State University, where she majored in journalism with a minor in women and gender studies. She worked at the Winona Daily News, Tomah Journal and the La Crosse Tribune before starting at the Dispatch in 2012.
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