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County seat status key to postal hours

10/18/2012

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

GOVE -- It might be the smallest county seat in the state, but nearly two-thirds of the city of Gove's residents made an impassioned plea for the U.S. Postal Service to scrap its plan to reduce hours at the community post office.

It was the second postal-reduction meeting of the day for Stan Blasi, who agreed the situation in Gove was special, because of its status as a county seat.

As a result, he planned to include that in the meeting summary he had to write and forward to his supervisors in Omaha, Neb.

"I'll let you know right now," he told approximately 50 people attending Tuesday evening's meeting, "that will be the No. 1 concern in the narrative that I send up."

What effect, if any, that concern will have is uncertain as the proposed hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. were set based on mail arrival and departure times.

But that's also what Gove County officials based their plea on to leave well-enough alone.

Currently, mail arrives at the Gove Post Office at approximately 10:30 and is put into boxes at the facility. Gove County employees converge on the post office soon after, but anything needing processing must be returned to the post office by 1 p.m.

Outgoing mail leaves shortly after 1 p.m.

Gove County Treasurer Cheryl Remington was quick to point out she's doing all she can to support the post office, including no longer running postage through her office meter.

"I don't know if the postal service realizes we are a county seat," she said.

Blasi said it did, based on the information he received prior to Tuesday's community meeting.

To support the post office, Remington said she's purchasing stamps and putting them on letters and tax statements, using the postage machine to seal envelopes.

"We need a post office, and we need the hours to do that," she said of being able to process mail, including license tags and passport requests.

She spoke out against boxes that would be left outside, concerned about tax payments that would be made to the county.

"I do think four hours is cutting it a little bit close," she said.

While Blasi sought to reassure community members, he was quick to say USPS is losing billions of dollars and must do something to cut costs.

Remington and others took special aim at the U.S. Postal Service's advertising campaign and its sponsorship of sporting events.

"People know the post office is there, and they're still going to use it," one woman said of doing away with advertising.

Teresa Lewis, Gove County's clerk of the district court, urged longer hours so her office could get subpoenas out on a timely basis.

Blasi, however, said the mail leaves Gove at approximately 1:15 p.m.

"I would rather see Saturday mail go away," she said.

What Blasi couldn't provide, just as he couldn't at a meeting earlier in the day at Healy, was how much USPS might save by reducing hours.

"It's going to be a reduction in the hours of the manager," he said. "It's a savings, but I can't tell you how much."

Delivery problems also were highlighted at the meeting.

"That's why I stopped taking The Hays Daily News," Remington said. "It was two to three days late."

Another woman said she simply isn't getting a lot of the papers.

"Shouldn't you get that paper eventually?" she asked. "With your name on it. Where does it go?"

"We work on cuts at the local level all the time," Remington said of seeing budgets trimmed. "We work on cuts, but we don't take away from customer service."