Proposed USPS changes hit rural communities hardest

AMAGON, AR (KAIT) – Starting this summer, say goodbye tomail delivery on Saturdays.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) announced Wednesdaythat it will cut down its delivery schedule to five days a week to save money.

Delivering mail only Monday through Friday is expected tosave USPS an estimated $2 billion annually.

The agency has taken other cost-cutting measures recentlyafter recording a $15.9 billion loss in its last fiscal year.

Many people now fear that the USPS will have to make moredrastic cuts to overcome its unprecedented financial crisis. Some suspect thatthe agency will end up closing smaller post offices in rural areas, like inAmagon, Ark.

"That would be a big thing if we could protect [the postoffice in Amagon]," said Sue Baty, who lives in nearby Balch, "but how?"

Baty and her friends call themselves the 'retired sewingladies.' They stitch together quilts that will eventually be sold to benefitlocal families in need.

"We enjoy it," Baty said. "There's a group of us that gettogether, and we do it."

When they are not quilting, they are fighting to save thepost office in Amagon.

"I think it'll eventually close," she said, "and we won'thave a post office in Amagon and that is going to be a sad situation."

The Postal Service considered closing the Amagon Post Officein 2012 but ended up cutting its hours of operation. It is now open Mondaythrough Saturday 9 to 11 a.m.

USPS now plans to stop delivering first-class mail likemailers, letters and catalogs on Saturdays, which Baty calls a "terrible" idea.

Members of the Arkansas delegation also voiced theiropposition Wednesday to the changes being made to the mail delivery schedule.

Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, issued a statement, writing inpart that the agency should "consider alternative measures, such as capping thesalaries of their top executives or eliminating bonuses, before making changesthat would hurt rural communities who depend on the Postal Service forcommerce, news, and necessary goods."

Republican Sen. John Boozman wrote, "While I am disappointedthe postal service had to resort to changing its delivery service, thefinancial strain of losing nearly $16 billion last year should not come at theexpense of the needs of Arkansans. We will work to limit the ramifications thisdecision will have on businesses and families who rely on the postal service."

USPS will cut end Saturday delivery starting August 5, 2013.The change is being taken without congressional approval.

Patrick Donahoe, the U.S. postmaster general and CEO,encouraged lawmakers Wednesday to make postal reform legislation a toppriority.

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