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The United States Postal Service may deliver the mail in any weather, but rural postal customers may want to expect less service under a new plan proposed earlier this month.
The postal service had been looking at closing more than 3,000 branches nationally, but under a plan, the USPS is proposing to cut the retail service hours at more than 13,000 local offices, including six branches in Marion County.
Postal customers in Bradfordsville, Gravel Switch, Loretto, Nerinx, Raywick and St. Mary will have fewer hours to receive retail services from their local branches if the plan is implemented.
Retail service at the Bradfordsville branch would be reduced to two hours per day, under this proposal, while the Gravel Switch, Loretto, Nerinx, Raywick and St. Mary offices would be cut to four hours per day. All the branches are currently open eight hours per day, except St. Mary, which is open six hours daily.
Access to the retail lobby and post office boxes would not be affected under this proposal.
If implemented, the post office would phase in the changes over a two-year period, which is not expected to be completed until September of 2014, according to a news release from the postal service.
The Bradfordsville Post Office had been one of the offices being considered for closure, and last fall the postal service held a meeting to give Bradfordsville citizens the opportunity to voice their opinions about that possibility. Hundreds of citizens attended the meeting to express their support for keeping the office open.
Bradfordsville Mayor David Edelen said the new proposal to cut back his city's post office to two hours of retail service per day could be a problem during specific times of the month.
"When people are more aware of [the proposal] they'll be concerned," he said.
On days with heavy mail, such as the first of the month when many government checks arrive, it may not leave postal employees with time to do much more than sorting the mail, Edelen said.
"It may not always be an issue, but there will be situations where it is," he said.
In Gravel Switch, Vicky Gribbins said she did not think cutting the Gravel Switch Post Office back to four hours would have a big impact on her. As owner of Gribbins Grocery, she said she uses the post office almost every day.
"I do think it will interfere with people who don't get off work until 3 or 4 o'clock," she said.
Gribbins said as long as people are still able to access their PO boxes at any time, then the proposal could probably work. She did say she would like the post office to be open longer on Saturdays, however.
Before any changes are implemented, postal officials intend to submit the plan to the Postal Regulatory Commission later this month.
David Walton, a spokesman for the postal service's Kentuckiana district, said the commission would have up to 90 days to review the plan and issue an advisory opinion. He added that the commission's opinion is nonbinding, which means the postal service could implement the plan regardless of the commission's findings.
He added that before any changes are made, the postal service will hold community meetings for every post office that will be affected. No meetings have been scheduled yet, but Walton said local customers will be notified when and where meetings will take place.
"We're going to get their input," he said.
At the same time, Walton spoke about the reduced hours plan as being beneficial for everyone.
"It keeps the offices open, plus it saves money," Walton said. "You can't beat that."
Marion County citizens will now wait to learn when they will have their opportunity to share their thoughts with postal officials about the new proposal.
Raywick Mayor Marilyn Mullins said everyone would prefer to see the post office remain open full-time, but she thinks the community could manage if the hours were reduced.
"I would rather it be open for four hours a day than none at all," she said. "We're a busy little post office. I would hate to think about it closing."
Like Gribbins in Gravel Switch, Mullins said reduced hours could affect people who go to the post office after they get off work, but she reiterated that something is better than nothing.
"I'd rather have a little time than no time," Mullins said.
The Bradfordsville mayor said he would like to see his city's branch stay open for retail service for at least four hours per day, but he did see something positive in the latest plan.
"I do feel fortunate that they didn't completely close it," Edelen said.