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Dravosburg fights to keep post office open 8 hours a day

| Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, 4:42 a.m.

Dravosburg residents want the U.S. Postal Service to keep their post office open eight hours a day.

“Our post office is an integral part of our community and its hours of operation as currently posted are effective and worthwhile,” said a petition with 240 signatures.

It was given to postal officials at a Thursday hearing in Dravosburg council chambers on reducing hours to six a day.

“I hope the post office takes into consideration having reasonable hours that are convenient for a majority of the residents,” borough Councilwoman Michelle Vezzani said.

“We're realigning their hours so we don't have to close down any post offices,” said David H. Meister, Washington, Pa., postmaster and postal service operations manager for the 150 ZIP code region, including Dravosburg (15034).

Disabled veteran Mary Elizabeth Gensler has medication shipped there.

“I have to worry because some of my medication has to be refrigerated,” Gensler said. “If they don't refrigerate my insulin properly I could wind up messing up my sugar real bad.”

Bettis employee Devin Ross said the reduced hours should be shifted so working people can get to the post office.

Meister said likely hours will be 9 a.m. to noon six days a week and 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. A final determination about hours would be posted in a week at the Dravosburg post office.

Every elected borough official attended the hearing, as did West Mifflin council president Michael Moses, Allegheny County Councilman Bob Macey, an aide to state Sen. James Brewster and state Rep. Bill Kortz of Dravosburg.

“There are many businesses and organizations in Dravosburg that also use this post office,” Kortz said. “I send out over 6,000 pieces of mail a year.”

Kortz said many in West Mifflin find the Dravosburg post office more convenient than the West Mifflin post office near Century III Mall.

“We stop at this post office on the way to the mall or vice versa,” said Jim Bartko, who came from Port Vue.

Dravosburg is on a long list of post offices that would see reduced daily hours under a plan announced last May.

“It is a shame it has to come to this,” said John Palcsey, who retired last year as Dravosburg postmaster. “But at least we are going to stay open, and as long as it is being done equitably, there is not much complaining we can do.”

Palcsey's retirement erased his job. Interim officer-in-charge Bonnie Bezy will return to her regular job in Donora when an employee is hired to handle the new hours.

Meister said McKeesport postmaster Daniel Devey will be administrator over the Dravosburg office.

Post offices in East McKeesport, East Pittsburgh, West Elizabeth, Wilmerding, Adamsburg, Grapeville, Wendel, Herminie, Rillton, Madison and Penn also are on the list for reduction to six hours.

Meister heard East McKeesport concerns on Nov. 15.

Others would be reduced to four hours, such as Ardara, Larimer, Westmoreland City, Buena Vista, Greenock, Bunola, Elrama, Hannastown, Arona, Hunker and Sutersville, while Coulter would be reduced to two hours.

That plan is meant to save the postal service half a billion dollars a year, while keeping unchanged access to retail lobbies and postal boxes, and retaining for many communities a ZIP code and an identity.

The postal service has problems. In 2012 it had to default on $11.1 billion in mandated payments to the U.S. Treasury, which contributed to a recorded loss of $15.9 billion.

Last week the service's Board of Governors directed management to accelerate the restructure of operations to further reduce costs.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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