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It’s two down and two post offices to go on the postal service’s list of offices to suffer reduced hours in Shelby County.
Of the six post offices within the county, including Pleasureville, four are among the 13,000 rural post offices nationwide slated to have their hours reduced, some by as much as half.
David Walton, community program specialist for the United States Postal Service, said that measure is an effort by the postal service to keep small post offices open, something that will, hopefully, help return the postal service to financial stability.
The Bagdad Post Office is the third post office this year in Shelby County slated for changes, joining the ranks of the Finchville, where hours were cut in half in February, and now operates only from noon to 4 p.m., and the Pleasureville, which will go from an 8-hour to a 6-hour day on Saturday.
The Mount Eden Post Office closed in 2011, but that was initiated because its lease couldn’t be renewed in the building that it occupied.
The Waddy Post Office is also on the list to go from an 8-hour day to a 6-hour day, but Walton said he does not know when that will that will take place.
“I have no idea on the time frame for Waddy,” he said. “I just know we have to have all these done by September of 2014.”
A community meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday at the Bagdad Post Office to garner input on what the public would like to see take place there, a procedure that Walton said is done at all post offices slated for changes.
He said he wanted to put fears to rest from residents who think the post office is going to be permanently closed.
“Is the [Bagdad] post office in danger of being closed – no,” he said. “What we’re doing is we’re conducting these meetings to get input from the community because we’re giving them four options.
“They can either, A, keep their post office open and reduce hours, or the other three options entail closing the office and getting service from another nearby post office, or a rural carrier or open a village post office.”
When a community meeting is scheduled to come up, the postal service sends out a survey to residents, containing the four options mentioned by Walton. The results are used, along with the input from the meeting, to determine how to curtail operations at the post office.
“Most of the time, people choose reduced hours, because they don’t want to lose their post office,” Walton said. “We have seen it happen, where people have said they don’t need a post office, but that’s rare. Most communities opt to just go with reduced hours. Offices can be reduced to two, four or six hours, and it’s based on revenue and the number of customers.”
In Bagdad, Austin Redmon, who is vice president of the Bagdad Ruritan Club, has been leading a campaign to encourage residents to attend the meeting and voice their opinions to keep the post office open.
“We’ve been trying to get the word out about it,” he said. “We announced it the last meeting of the Ruritan Club. Hopefully, some of our members will be able to be there to voice our opinion. We definitely encourage them. They all seem pretty much against the closing.”
Redmon said that post offices serve not only for mail delivery but to reinforce a community’s identity. In Bagdad’s case, the post office is recommending the 2-hour reduction. Any carriers or employees affected could work out of other offices, Walton said.
A week after the meeting – or around April 4 – Walton said, officials will put a notice up at the post office to announce their decision. The new hours would not go into effect for at least a month.
Rusty Newton, fire chief in Bagdad and Shelby County Deputy Judge-Executive, said he was eager to attend the meeting.
“I just want to find out what the options are, and, obviously, I want to see the post office stay open,” he said.
Michelle Games, the officer in charge of the Bagdad Post Office, explained how the meeting will be conducted.
“At the meeting, local management will share the results of the survey and answer questions,” she said. “We will have the meeting here at the post office, but if we have too many, we’ll probably walk across the street to the [Bagdad Baptist] church.
“We might have a lot of people to show up, and I’m hoping they will. I think they will, because people seem to be pretty interested in it.”
Finchville Postmaster Relief David Bohannon said that a good crowd turned out in that community for the community meeting held in early February. He said that people there have been coping as well as can be expected with having only half-day service.
“We’re only open four hours a day, and it’s inconvenient, but, of course, you go with what you’ve got,” he said. “But at least our revenue looks good, as far as people still doing business.”
So far, the Simpsonville and Shelbyville Post Offices are not on the list to have hours reduced, and Walton said he didn’t expect them to be, especially in Shelbyville.
“There’s just too much foot traffic,” he said.
Post office meeting
WHAT: Public meeting on hours reduction/closing of Bagdad Post Office
WHEN: 5 p.m., Thursday
WHERE: Bagdad Post Office, 5811 Elmburg Road
MORE INFO:Meeting could be relocated to Bagdad Baptist Church