Residents served by at least eight local rural post offices have been surveyed or soon will be by the U.S. Postal Service about reducing the hours of operation at those locations.
The small rural post offices are in Unicoi, Johnson, Carter and Washington counties, according to a document provided by USPS. The survey asks residents if they want to keep their post office but at reduced hours, or if they prefer a study be done about closing the locations but with delivery points or a P.O. Box service or other location operated by a contractor.
Communities served by the post offices in Butler, Flag Pond and Watauga have already been surveyed. The post office in the community of Unicoi is being surveyed, as are the communities served by the post offices in Telford and Milligan. Johnson County’s Shady Valley and Trade communities have yet to receive a date for surveys.
Citizens in Butler, Flag Pond and Watauga who responded to the surveys earlier this year indicated they wanted to keep their post offices with reduced hours of operation.
USPS officials began surveying customers of around 13,000 rural post offices earlier this year in an effort to reduce costs, said spokesman David Walton. This process will take until September 2014 and was implemented after public outcry against a plan that would have closed 3,700 post offices around the country.
The survey option, referred to as the “Post Plan,” is a way for communities to keep their post offices and for the Postal Service to save money, Walton said. Most of the time, community residents choose to keep their post offices at reduced hours of operation.
Of the 13,000 post offices being surveyed, the first ones have no sitting postmaster.
Surveys out right now are to be completed by Dec. 26. Public meetings to announce the results will be held Jan. 9 in the communities where they were conducted.
The community of Unicoi’s meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at the Post Office, 4010 Unicoi Drive; Milligan’s meeting will be held at the Post Office at 101 Neth Drive, Milligan College, at 2 p.m.; Telford’s Post Office, 1888 Old State Route 34, Telford, will be the location of that community’s meeting at noon.