Twelve post offices in Big Horn and Park counties, all under the 824 zip code exchange, will be seeing reduced hours over the coming years.
United States Postal Service spokesperson David G. Ruppert said there were community meetings about the reduced hours in two of the 12 communities in November, two are scheduled for next week and the other eight are still unscheduled.
Byron and Frannie both had meetings in November to gain public input. Both are proposed to have post office hours reduced from eight hours to four. Ruppert said an official order on the two has not been issued.
There is a meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 8, in Cowley at Town Hall to discuss the proposed reduction of hours from eight to six. There will be a meeting in Shell Jan. 9 to discuss the Shell Post Office hours being reduced from eight to four.
Others that are proposed to be reduced but have no public meetings set at this time are Burlington, eight to six hours; Deaver, eight to four; Emblem, four to two; Hyattville, six to four; Manderson, eight to four; Otto, four to two; Ralston, eight to four; and Wapiti, eight to four.
Ruppert said an official order that specifies an effective date usually comes no earlier than 30 days after the meeting. He said there was a moratorium on decisions until after the holidays.
“We have 13,000 post offices we’re evaluating. The first phase will be implemented Jan. 12, but it does not affect any of the 824 post offices. I’m dealing with 600 in the Western Region,” Ruppert said.
The Postal Service plan is to have the entire program of office reduction completed by the fall 2014.
He said he expects implementation of Byron and Frannie to come this spring.
He said the Postal Service provided an “early out” for postmasters and other employees, freeing up opportunities for employees at some of the smaller post offices that are on the list for reduced hours.
As they review each proposal, Ruppert said service is the main factor. “We don’t want to affect how long mail delivery takes. We want to create as least disruption as possible.”
He said the reduced hours is a positive alternative to closing post offices, which was originally proposed. “This seems to be a much better option and has been much better received,” Ruppert said. He added that while everyone would like things to stay the same, with the financial picture of the Postal Service, change is a must.
By KARLA POMEROY