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USPS moves ahead with cuts in hours





GOVE -- The U.S. Postal Service has turned a deaf ear to impassioned pleas from residents of Gove and Healy, asking it to forgo cutting window hours at their community post offices.

"Everything we did was 'who cares?' " Gove County Treasurer Cheryl Remington said of approximately 50 of the city of Gove's residents turning out last week to object to the idea of reducing window hours at the post office. "I'm not happy about it for sure, but I'm not sure what you can do about it."

Remington hadn't heard about the decision in Gove's case had come down from regional headquarters late Monday afternoon. Healy's decision was handed down Monday afternoon as well.

For both Gove and Healy, the decision by Omaha-based Central Plains District Manager Rick Pivovar -- paid $168,722 annually by USPS -- follows what was initially proposed prior to meetings in both communities.

How much USPS will save by reducing hours remains uncertain.

"The financial information for individual post offices is proprietary and is not releasable," USPS spokesman Brian Sperry said. "Nationwide, savings are projected to exceed $500 million annually after the plan's completion in September of 2014."

While operating hours will remain as proposed, the effective date was changed, now set for Jan. 12, a Saturday, a nod to the upcoming Christmas mailing season, a peak time of the year.

At the Healy meeting, residents were told the effective date would be 30 days after the notice was handed down.

Gove's hours will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9:45 to 11 a.m. Saturdays.

Healy will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, closing from 12:30 to 1 p.m. for lunch; the window will be open from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays.

At both Healy, an unincorporated community in Lane County, and in Gove, nearly 50 residents turned out at individual meetings and urged the postal service not to reduce window hours.

In Gove's case, residents said the reduction would prove to be a hardship because the community is a county seat, making it difficult to process mail and then get it back over to the post office before the mail goes out.

Currently, the mail arrives in Gove at about 10:30 a.m.

County employees generally converge on the post office 15 minutes later.

But the mail leaves the Gove Post Office shortly after 1 p.m., so any mail that has to be processed must be returned prior to that time.

Stan Blasi, Hutchinson's postmaster who was pressed into handling the meetings in Healy and Gove, said he would highlight Gove's concerns about it being a county seat and the short window of opportunity to process mail.

"I don't think it matters to the postal service," Remington said of Gove's status as a county seat. "It's going to be a struggle for us. We'll do the best we can."

It's unlikely the Gove community will fight the decision.

"We tried," Remington said. "We gave it our all. I think you're talking to such a large bureaucracy. They've got their mind made up. And there's no changing it."