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Fayette's Village Post Office meant to fill gaps in underserved areas

| Friday, June 28, 2013, 11:42 p.m.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Frank Kay, of Markleysburg, walks past a new United States Postal Service box at The Country Store in Markleysburg on June 28, 2013.

Fred Lint, owner of The Country Store, thinks his gas station and convenience store will get even more business with the addition of a mailbox and postage stamps.

“I do expect a lot of mail dropped in this box,” Lint said, gesturing to the blue receptacle outside his store in Henry Clay Township along Route 40 in Fayette County.

The Country Store officially became the ninth Village Post Office in Western Pennsylvania with a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday as motorists quickly came and went, filling up gas tanks and picking up lunches. Village Post Offices typically serve rural areas and are part of community businesses or other entities that are already established.

Village Post Offices are operated at those locations by management, such as Lint. The concept was introduced by the U.S. Postal Service two years ago as a way to serve areas with no post office or one with reduced hours. Village Post Offices carry products most popular with customers, including stamps, collection boxes and flat-rate envelopes.

Tad Kelley, spokesman for the Postal Service, said officials are continuing to evaluate 471 of the service's smaller post offices in the region for possible reduction of hours.

“It is an option we are offering as it expands access to certain postal products with hours perhaps more convenient to the community,” he said.

The Markleysburg Village Post Office will operate during the same hours as The Country Store — 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, according to a news release.

“I know I've gone many times to the post office and they've been closed,” Lint said.

Village Post Offices can be beneficial to businesses as well as customers, said Jane Rahenkamp, U.S. Postal Service marketing manager in the Western Pennsylvania District.

“It's a really good fit in a community,” she said. “It helps bring extra customers into a business.”

The road to becoming a Village Post Office works two ways, Rahenkamp said. A business can inquire with the service or officials may approach businesses in an area that has postal needs, she said. Reduced hours at a post office are not a requirement, Kelley said.

The Postal Service announced changes and consolidations last year in an effort to reduce a loss amounting to billions of dollars. The cost-cutting included reducing services and closing smaller mail processing facilities.

Kelley said discussions are under way for about four more Village Post Offices in the area. He declined to elaborate.

At community meetings held around the area during the last year, postal officials discussed possibilities for realignment at small post offices.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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