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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Post-office downsizing raises concern; town meeting set for 7 p.m. Thur. with Postal Service

By Colin Walsh, Summer Hall, Clark Brooks and Dick Yarmy
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Midway’s post office, a central piece of the city’s identity, will likely be undergoing some federally mandated changes later this month, and city officials have called an "urgent town hall meeting" out of fear that the downsizing could eventually lead to its closing.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Anne Hart Raymond Center at Midway College. A official from the U.S. Postal Service will be present to answer questions.

Although Midway customers' postal service will remain virtually unchanged, the measures have raised concerns about the changes in the shadow of the larger cuts planned by the service. Citizens are fearful the office could close –– a blow to any small town where the post office functions as a popular meeting place.

The Midway post office's two rural mail routes and one of its two clerks are to be reassigned to the Versailles office on March 26. The move is part of an effort by the postal service to save money after a $3 billion loss last year. It is reviewing the profitability of as many as 20,000 offices, and is in the process of saving $500 million by closing 2,000 offices designated Class 13 and below. The cuts at the Midway office will reduce it to Class 15 from Class 16, and the meeting-notice advertisement in tomorrow's Woodford Sun asks, "Could the next step be CLOSURE?"

City Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Turner, left, who worked at the post office for two years about 20 years ago, told the Midway Messenger, “My gut instinct says it won’t be shut down any time soon. But, one can't help but wonder if this is the start to the gnawing at a problem to challenge the office’s profitability.”

Turner said volume reduction, along with the reduced stamp sales and package pick-ups by carriers, could reduce overall revenues, impacting profitability. Lack of profit and decreased mail volume make it easier for the Postal Service to close an office.

"I don’t think it will close," Turner said, "but what I am worried is that this is a first step." Asked what closure would mean, Turner said, "Devastation is the first word that comes to mind. We actually have a lot of business there that people don’t realize out of the city of Midway. . . . There’s a lot more there than you just actually see driving through."

She said the post office and the grocery are the most popular meeting places for the community, and residents at one point had the opportunity to have their mail delivered to their homes or continue to pick it up at the post office, and they preferred the latter. About half the Midway post office's 1,700 customers rent boxes at the office; Midway has no city delivery, except to residents who live on the sections of the rural routes inside the city.

Turner said city officials learned of the plan through “kind of a fluke. I was making simple conversation with one of the clerks and she said she might not be here next month.”

The reduction in service is not expected to change daily routines, except that postal customers on the rural routes may get their mail at a different time than they do now. Turner said customers expecting certified mail will have to travel 10 miles to the Versailles post office to get the mail if they are not home when the carrier tries to make delivery. She said those on Midway rural routes will still have Midway addresses though the carriers will be based in Versailles.

Midway has a history of defending its post office. The postal service offical at the meeting will be Tom Adkins, a veteran of the last skirmish between Midway and the postal service, 20 years ago, when the service wanted to move the office to another building but backed off in the face of public objections.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks!

The March 3 Town Hall meeting to learn more about the changes slated to come to the
Midway Post Office has led to the discovery that residents on more than 20
predetermined streets in Midway, which are not serviced with home mail delivery, are
entitled to a free small post office box at the Post Office. This free box
information is not posted at the Post Office, at City Hall or on the Midway City
website, and to my knowledge no postal or city employee has volunteered information
about this service which is in lieu of (free) home mail delivery enjoyed by
residents in neighborhoods such as North Ridge and other areas of the city.

It should be noted that both street address and P.O. Box number are noted on the
Midway Water, Sewer and Garbage bills sent monthly to residents and yet neither the
postal service or the city advises people whether or not they can receive a free box
based upon their street address. Thus, many residents have been paying P.O. Box
fees for many years even though they are entitled to a free box. Further, I have
learned that residents who live on some streets not included in the "No Delivery"
areas may have the option of putting up a mailbox instead of paying a fee to have a
P.O. Box at the Post Office. Information such as this must be communicated to
citizens.

Since we are now caught up in what might happen to Midway service amid the changes
coming to the Post Office, let's discuss what has already happened. I would like an
explanation of why residents have not been informed; how the Midway Post Office
management will begin notifying residents of their access to a small P.O. Box
without a fee; what the Post Office is going to do about making recompense; and
whether an audit of fees paid to the Post Office should be conducted in light of so
many residents paying for unjustified fees.

~ Concerned Midway Residents

knownasdad said...

What IS going on with the Midway Post Office? Looks like it's being dismantled!? What services will remain? Thanks foe any info.