Postal Service: Will keep rural post offices open - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Postal Service: Will keep rural post offices open

BLACK OAK, AR (KAIT) - Last year, the U.S. Postal Service put 3,700 rural post offices nationwide on the chopping block.

Leaving residents in those small towns worried.

"They don't have a store or a service station so this post office is the main thing in the town," Leachville resident, Darlene Winter said about the town of Black Oak.

But at least for now, that's not the case anymore. The rural post offices are safe following an announcement by the Postmaster General. However, changes could still be on the horizon for rural offices.

Post offices in Black Oak and Etowah were slated to either close or consolidate by next week on May 15.

"It would be harmful to this little town. So many people depend on the post office," Winter said.

But following Postmaster General, Patrick Donahoe's announcement, those offices and many others across Region 8 will stay open. Letting people like Darlene Winter breath a sigh of relief.

"So I was glad to hear that it's staying open for at least a little bit longer," she said.

According to the Postmaster General, strong community opposition was a main reason that next week's plan won't go into effect.

That's good news for Darlene as she frequents the Black Oak Post Office often, even though she lives in Leachville.

"I come down here at least three times a week. If I can't make it every day I come in three times a week."

She said these post offices are convenient for small towns. She isn't the only one that feels that way, though. Charles McCollum lives in Etowah and uses a box at the post office there. He said residents in Etowah depend on the rural office.

"A lot of people get their medicine from the post office and they don't have a way to travel," McCollum said. "They're on a fixed income and don't go 15-20 miles to a post office to get medicine."

He said, like in Black Oak, the post office is a central part of their town.

"If we wind up having to go to Manila or Osceola to get our mail you kind of lose that sense of community," McCollum said.

But they may not have to resort to that. USPS's new strategy is to keep those rural offices open with shorter hours. Up to 13,000 facilities could see reduced hours of operations of between two to six hours. Communities will also be given the option to close a post office in one area while keeping another open full time.

For the full list of Arkansas offices that are affected, click here.

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

____

WASHINGTON (AP) - The struggling U.S. Postal Service is trying to tamp down concern over its wide-scale cuts, saying it will seek to keep hundreds of rural post offices open with shorter hours.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe tells a news conference the new plan will save the mail agency half a billion dollars each year while addressing concerns of rural residents most opposed to post office closings.

Previously, up to 3,700 low-revenue post offices were slated for closure or consolidation beginning sometime after May 15, many in rural areas. It was part of a multibillion-dollar postal cost-cutting effort to stave off the agency's bankruptcy.

The Postal Service now plans to seek regulatory approval for the new plan and get community input, a process that could take several months.

For the full list of Arkansas offices that are affected, click here. 

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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