Many rural post offices on the chopping block

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

ALICIA, AR (KAIT) - The United States Postal Service (USPS) has said many small rural post offices are going to close. Fewer people are mailing first-class letters these days. By closing as many as two-thousand small post offices around the country and re-allocating services they are trying hard to survive in this e-mail orientated society.

Low utilization and lower profits are forcing many post offices to close. Rural carriers would deliver mail, and residents from places like Alicia may have to go to Swifton for mail services.

" The Postal service is a non-profit organization and they don't get appropriated funds from congress. They have to make their own funds within their own retail sales and delivery." says rural mail carrier Jerry Weist. West was loading up his Jeep at the Bono Post Office getting ready for his daily run.

Weist, "It's not near the volume we've had in the past. It has dropped considerably." According to Post Office documents they put their volume at 26 billion pieces last year and expect another 11 billion piece drop this year.

Weist has a few more months until retirement. He and others like him would be responsible for distributing mail in Alicia should the post office close.

Alicia is on the current list  as is Wilson, Peach Orchard, Wideman, Pineville, Board Camp, Gepp, Goodwin, Ida, Monroe, Johnson City, Springdale, East Camden and Driver. One surprise is the post office on the ASU Campus. Not on the current list but serving small populations are the stations at Egypt, and Sedgwick .

Low volume of customers are blamed for many of these planned closings. Alicia's numbers aren't good. Only 65 boxes are rented. There are 168 rural customers and only Eleven and half daily transactions. Also as many Post Masters retire from these smaller stations, their slots are not being re-filled. Alicia's Postmaster retired in 2009. Now it is staffed with fill ins.

Tony Zambrano and his wife live just up the street from the post office at Alicia. His wife doesn't drive following an accident, they come to the Post Office every day to pick up mail.Lack of customers at the front are killing this station he said. And its closing would not be good at all.

Zambrano. "We're both retired if they close it we would have to go to Swifton or Maynard and in the winter or inclement weather it would be hard on us."

If the office closes, customers could either drive or have their mail dropped at their house. But in Bono, where mail carrier Jerry Weist was getting ready to roll out, there is a big change coming for him and his fellow carriers. They will be having to go to Jonesboro starting in April and load up there.

Currently the 3 drivers get about 46 to 48 hours per week. That includes sort time and delivery time starting at the Bono Post Office. Now, he says, they will have to drive 22 extra miles.

Weist, "22 miles of dead time adding 4 hours to each route approximately."

Extra hours, extra fuel doesn't appear to save money. Also there will be an inconvenience factor for patrons. Customers not home to receive registered mail or large packages will now have to drive to Jonesboro or request a re-drop.

Weist, "We can still do the same job over there but it is going to be expensive at first."

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