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Post offices to offer reduced service

SoVaNow.com / August 06, 2014
Community pleas not to close post offices in Baskerville and Skipwith were delivered to officials with the United States Postal Service during town hall-style meetings with local residents on Thursday.

Despite the outcry, customers at Skipwith will see their post office hours reduced after the first of the year. The hours at the Baskerville post office will change in the next 30 days.

The decision was mandated by Congress, said Charlotte Court House Post Master Charlie Moon. While serving as a forum for public comment, the primary purpose of Thursday meeting was to share the results of postal surveys and notify customers of the new retail hours.

The new retail hours for the Skipwith Post Office will likely be set Monday through Friday from 11:40 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The hours for the Baskerville location will likely be Monday through Friday, 11:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Total Saturday window service hours will not be reduced at either site, and access to delivery receptacles will not change as a result of the USPS realignment plan, explained Moon.

He added that the hours of operation were chosen after reviewing responses to surveys mailed to local postal customers. In the Baskerville area, the post office mailed out 390 surveys. 97 were returned with 87% of those responding favoring a realignment of hours. Their other options were to close the post office, contract with a delivery services or contract with a local business to serve as a retail center.

Of the 455 surveys mailed to Skipwith customers, 100 or 83% of those responding favored realigning the hours.

Among those attending the meetings, the majority favored reduced customer service hours over a full closure of the site — though several said the hours were not convenient, because the times fall during the work day. Moon suggested these people take advantage of nearby sites that don’t have reduced hours: Clarksville, Boydton, Chase City, and South Hill.

The other concern raised by several customers attending the meeting related to the fate of the local postmasters.

Darryl Seay, manager of USPS operations for central Virginia, explained that full-time postal employees whose facilities face reduced hours — such as the Skipwith postmaster — have until January of 2015 to find another full-time position within the postal service, or take early retirement or leave the service for other employment. Sites such as Baskerville which have no current fulltime employees would most likely not see any change in personnel

Even after being told that the reduction of retail service hours would move forward, residents attending the meeting chose to share their feelings about the employees at their local post office. “You could not ask for better service,” and “the people who work here are exceptional,” are just two of the many similar comments shared with Seay and local postal managers.

In Baskerville, retired postmistress Betty Beck accepted the news with a smile and a sigh as she recounted the days when the Baskerville post office was the center of a thriving town. She recalled that despite its humble beginnings in a trailer, the Baskerville post office was often packed with friends and neighbors — there to catch up on local news, or to watch the train engineer grab the outgoing mail pouch from a pole outside the post office as the train passed through town each evening.

“Now, Baskerville post office is Baskerville,” said Beck — a shortened way of saying with the loss of the railroads, the Baskerville office is all that is left of the community’s commercial district.

Neither Seay nor any of the postal employees attending the meetings could say if these are the last changes rural post offices will undergo. “That is up to Congress” was the answer offered to members of the public. They emphasized that one way to ensure your local post office continues to operate is to use the service — buy stamps and mail letters and packages through the local branches.

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