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Donegal residents voice concerns regarding possible cut in post office hours

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 8:49 p.m.

The fate of the Donegal Post Office is in the hands of the federal government.

A small group of residents attended a public meeting Wednesday, in which United States Postal Service Post Office Operations Manager William Battles Jr. said there is discussion ongoing for the possible cutback in hours of operation at the Donegal facility.

He said there is no discussion that the office would close.

“We are not here to talk about the closing,” Battles said. “Right now, that isn't an option. I just want to hear what suggestions you may have and I will take all your ideas and suggestions back with me.”

Reading from a prepared statement, Battles announced that the results of a recent survey that was sent to members of the Donegal community revealed many would support reduced hours.

The option of leaving the post office open as it is now was not included in the survey but Battles did not rule that out as a possibility.

“We are looking into all options,” Battles said.

There were 339 surveys sent out and 121 were returned.

Battles gave those in attendance the opportunity to fill out a survey to add to his data.

Battles said the U.S. Postal Service lost $15.9 billion last year due mainly to an increase in Internet usage.

“People are doing more and more things online,” Battles said. “Over 40 million transactions are gone and those are transactions that we will never recover. There is a decrease in mail volume and workload.”

But many Donegal residents, questioning the operational costs for the Donegal office, didn't believe closing or cutting back the hours at the small post office would mean much in the overall big picture in losses for the postal service.

Battles did not have operational costs available.

Residents questioned the small window of opportunity to visit the post office. Some said they heard the proposed hours would be from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday and 8 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

“What do we do if we work during the day and there is a package delivered to us,” one resident asked. “How are we supposed to get it?”

Battles said there are several options being entertained, such as having a large parcel container added to the office.

Battles said although the postal window may be closed, the lobby itself may remain open until 5 p.m. or even 24 hours.

The issue of safety for a 24-hour facility was addressed with residents concerned about checks and medications that may be located in some of the post office boxes.

“If you are worried about safety, then that is something I can take back with me,” Battles said.

Resident Sarah Harkcom said her concern is with the availability and easy access that may be lost for businesses if there is no regular postal service.

“There are so many businesses that depend on tourism and they use the Donegal Post Office for marketing,” Harkcom said. “The Donegal Post Office is central to their marketing. Our area is surviving on tourism.”

Battles said any chances that are decided upon will not take affect until after Jan. 12 when residents will then be contacted by way of signs at the post office.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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