Smaller communities to see changes in post office

Jeffrey Hage
Princeton Union Eagle

Going to the Jim Falls Post Office is part of the weekday routine for many in Dalbo.

At the Dalbo Post Office, the weekday customer service hours would be cut from six to four sometime before September 2014.

At the Dalbo Post Office, the weekday customer service hours would be cut from six to four sometime before September 2014.

But Dalbo residents might have to plan their visits to the Post Office on a more limited schedule.

The Post Office in Dalbo and other  small communities in the region will be able to keep their post offices. But to save money, the U.S. Postal Service wants to cut back the hours those small post offices provide customer service.

The post offices in Dalbo, Bock, Ogilvie, Wahkon and Foley are among 13,000 targeted for the rollbacks in the postal service’s attempt to save money.

Dalbo and Bock post offices are slated to take the greatest hits, under the U.S. Postal Service proposal.

In Dalbo, the weekday customer service hours would be cut from six to four sometime before September 2014. The scenario is even worse in Bock, the small town located about five miles east of Milaca. There, hours would be cut from the current eight hours down to two.

Post office hours in Foley and Ogilvie would be trimmed from the present eight hours to six. Hours at the Wahkon Post Office, in Mille Lacs County on the shores of Lake Mille Lacs, would see hours cut from eight to four.

Access to the P.O. boxes and the post office lobby would not change under the plan. Neither would a community’s zip code. The time mail is picked up and delivered would also stay the same.

“No changes have been made yet. No changes will be made until after a public contact process takes place,” said Pete Nowacki, a spokesman for the postal service.

Each community will be notified by mail of the date and the location where the meetings will be held.

“We view these changes as going into effect over the next couple of years,” Nowacki said.

The rollbacks could come anytime after the meetings in each community. That means it could happen as early as next year.

“It’s going to be an ongoing thing during this two-year period,” Nowacki said.

Once the rollbacks are  completed nationwide, in September 2014, the postal service estimates the changes will save a half-billion dollars a year.

The postal service came up with the rollback plan after plans to eliminate rural post offices were soundly criticized.

“The post offices in rural America will remain open, unless a community has a strong preference for one of the other options. We will not close any of these rural post offices without having provided a viable solution,” said Megan Brennan, chief operating officer of the postal service in May.

The other options, aside from the hours rollback, include: offering service from another post office; contract with a local business to create a local post office; or providing mail service to residents and businesses by rural carrier or highway contract route.

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