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Shorter post office hours worry Healy residents





HEALY -- The 45 people showing up for Tuesday's community meeting on the future of the Healy Post Office were none too happy with the idea of cutting window hours.

And postal officials never would have been able to shoehorn all of the people attending into the lobby of the downtown post office, even though that's where the meeting first was scheduled before being moved to the Healy school auditorium.

Stan Blasi, Hutchinson's postmaster who also is filling in as the regional operations manager, for the most part lent a sympathetic ear to resident's objections, but set the stage for the office hours to be cut.

His report on the community meeting must be sent to regional headquarters today, which will issue a decision within five days.

The changes will take effect 30 days later, Blasi said.

It was a relatively short meeting, only lasting approximately 45 minutes.

Hours for the post office, he said, would be from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The office will close 30 minutes for lunch, and the postal clerk will have 20 minutes after the window is closed to have the mail ready to be sent.

Residents objected to the loss of hours, suggesting "rural America is really important to the country. It doesn't have to do with changing its hours; it has to do with access to the rest of the world."

While Blasi sought to say the reduction in hours, at Healy as well as hundreds of other smaller post offices across the nation, is aimed at stopping financial losses, he said it's unlikely the savings will be much in Healy's case.

Rent and utilities, he said, would remain virtually unchanged, but there would be a reduction in labor costs -- amounting to approximately only $13,000 a year, a member of the audience said.

Ironically, Blasi said mail from Healy still is forwarded to Dodge City, where it is sorted by hand and delivered the next day. Dodge City's processing equipment has been removed as part of postal service's streamlining process, and eventually all mail sorting will take place in Wichita.

"At least the post office is going to remain so the post office will retain its identity," he said.

There were complaints from boxholders, who said mail isn't delivered until approximately 11 a.m. and outgoing mail has to be returned by 3 p.m.