Rural post offices to remain open

Facilities will move to shorter operating hours to save funds

The Yellow Jacket post office will soon be open for just four hours a day. Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

The Yellow Jacket post office will soon be open for just four hours a day.

Four area post offices being studied for closure will remain open with shorter hours under a new proposal from the U.S. Postal Service.

“We hope that the people understand (shorter hours) is a way to keep them open,” said David Rupert, Colorado spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service.

If implemented, the Yellow Jacket Post Office would be open four hours a day, the Mesa Verde Post Office would be open two hours a day, the Egnar Post Office would be open two hours a day and the Ophir Post Office would be open four hours a day, he said.

“Those aren’t arbitrary numbers, they looked at the workload of each one carefully,” Rupert said.

Specific operating hours are unknown at this time pending review of the plan by the Postal Regulatory Commission later this month. In addition, Rupert said public feedback would be sought to determine which operating hours work best for each community.

Following the rise of electronic communication, the Postal Service found itself facing billions in deficit. As a result, closures of post offices across the country were proposed last year.

Initially, area post offices in Rico, Pleasant View and Lewis were studied for closure, then taken off the chopping block. Then the service announced Egnar, Mesa Verde, Ophir and Yellow Jacket were placed on the list to be studied for closure.

The Postal Service recently backed down on closures in the face of opposition that arose from rural postal customers and members of Congress including U.S. Rep, Scott Tipton and U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet from Colorado.

Under the proposal, mail could still be dropped off and post office box lobbies may remain open during off hours. In addition, Rupert said postage can be now purchased online with a credit card and printed from a home computer. Flat rate boxes and envelopes are also available for purchase online at https://store.usps.com/store/.

Regardless of the savings from reduced hours, Rupert advocated for other cost saving measures such as a five-day delivery week, which would take congressional approval.

“This does not fix our postal ailments,” he said. “We continue to lose volume and lose revenue at record rates. ... “This helps, but the patient is still really sick.”

Locals are expected to be notified of public meetings regarding the proposed reduced hours through letters in the mail.

Reach Reid Wright at reidw@cortezjournal.com