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Post office operating hours may change

The downtown Brookhaven post office will survive an anticipated round of reductions in post office operating hours, but some area offices – including one at Ruth – are tentatively planned to open their doors less often.

     The U.S. Postal Service has recently reversed course on plans to close some rural post offices throughout the country in favor of reducing operating hours, and U.S. Postal Service Spokesperson Enola Rice says Brookhaven will not be affected.

     “The Brookhaven Post Office is not our list for possible reduction in retail hours,” Rice said in an email referencing the downtown location.

     The downtown office’s operating hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. No changes have been mentioned for the local post office on Brookhaven Street.

     The post office in Ruth is tentatively planned for a reduction in hours from eight to four hours a day. District Three Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson, whose district includes Ruth, said the moves addresses his fears the Ruth office would be targeted for closure.

     “I hate for any kind of changes, but I’m glad it’s going to stay there,” Williamson said.

     Approximately 450 mailboxes are served out of the post office at Ruth, Williamson said. He believes it’s important the post office stay there for the convenience of the people.

     Residents of Ruth will miss the flexibility of a full operating day but are glad there’s no chance of losing the office right now, Williamson said.

     “They will miss (the longer hours), but they will accept it,” he said.

     Williamson also believes public services like schools and post offices are important to maintaining the identity of rural communities like Ruth.

     “All communities need a post office,” Williamson said. “A post office is like a school. When you close a school, it just does something to the community. It’s like it falls apart.”

     Post offices in McCall Creek and Union Church were previously slated for closure by the U.S. Postal Service, but now will only have their operating hours cut.

     Both offices are tentatively scheduled to drop from eight to four hours a day.

     Other area offices, which weren’t previously considered for closure, are now facing reduced operating hours. Offices in Roxie and Bude would drop from eight hours to four.

     The Silver Creek Post Office would see its hours cut from eight to six hours.

     These local offices may fare better than some other rural offices throughout the state, which may be slashed to as few as two hours a day.

     The proposed closures were deeply unpopular in among local residents.

     At public hearings held in the affected communities, members of the public protested the loss of their offices. At McCall Creek, a former Franklin County supervisor, Dennis Calcote, echoed Williamson and suggested that as public institutions and services are chipped away, the community’s identity becomes endangered.

     Nationwide, U.S. lawmakers from rural districts had pushed back against the plan, and, in recent months, the Postal Service has backed off on its plans for to shut down offices with very low foot traffic.

     The U.S. Postal Service faces deep budget deficits, forcing it to consider a number of options to trim costs. The agency is headed for $14 billion in losses this year, and postal leaders have warned that, without congressional action, default is inevitable.

     Williamson fears reductions in operating hours and service days will eventually spread beyond rural areas.

     “I look for that statewide,” Williamson said. “It’s a money crunch thing.”