Rural town learns of Post Office fate at community meeting

Survey results regarding future of Portia Post Office
Survey results regarding future of Portia Post Office

PORTIA, AR (KAIT) - The Post Office in Portia, Arkansas was one of many offices placed on the chopping block after the USPS found itself struggling financially.

Thursday night, a community meeting was held in the small, Lawrence County town to discuss the future of their Post Office. At the meeting, Portia residents learned of the USPS's strategy to save not just their zip code, but also their identity.

"I was just so pleased that our Post Office was willing to work with us to cut hours if necessary but to continue to offer us service," Portia resident, Pashia Ridge told Region 8 News.

She's lived in Portia nearly her whole life and said the Post Office is a staple in the community.

"There's a lot of elderly people here in town that depend on the post office," Ridge said. "It's part of their exercise. They'll walk to the Post Office, so we need to keep it...we do."

However, Ridge said she knows all too well that the volume of mail going through the Post Office has declined dramatically over the years.

"It's minuscule compared to what we used to have. Everything is going to email, text messaging. Everything is moving at the speed of light now," Ridge said.

So Ridge said she understands why a reduction in hours through the POSTPlan is necessary.

Heading up the meeting was Anita Brownlee, the manager of customer service at the Jonesboro Post Office.

"It's not something that we wanted to do or look forward to doing but it is something that was a necessity for the Postal Service to survive," Brownlee told community members.

Brownlee says the POSTPlan is something the USPS sees as a "win-win" situation. Keeping rural Post Offices open while cutting back on costs.

Realigning the hours at the Portia Post Office was decided through a survey mailed to residents a few weeks ago.

"Monday through Friday, we're proposing 7am to 11am," Brownlee explained. "So it'll be open for four hours."

Meaning the Portia Post Office will only be open half the time it has been in the past. Ridge told Region 8 News she just sees this as a sign of the times. However, she thinks it will work out for Portia residents.

"It's gonna work for me. It's gonna work for everybody else if they're willing to adapt a little," Ridge explained.

The USPS estimates the POST Plan strategy will be complete in September of 2014. They hope to save a half billion dollars annually.

For a complete, preliminary list of offices that will see reduced hours in Arkansas, click here.

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