MONROETON - Athens postmaster Russell Kerlin told eight residents at a public meeting July 22 in Monroeton that the hours for their post office are going to be reduced.
It is likely that Monroeton's post office now will be open six hours each weekday, instead of eight, and that the post office would be closed two hours each day for lunch, he said. Saturday hours would remain unchanged.
A final schedule of the Monroeton post office's hours will be posted by this week at the post office, he said.
A similar scenario is occurring this year for customers of many other post offices in Bradford County.
The United States Postal Service recently reduced, or is planning to reduce, the hours at numerous post offices in Bradford County, including New Albany, Burlington, East Smithfield, Ulster, Milan, Gillett, Columbia Cross Roads, Sylvania, Granville Summit, Stevensville and Warren Center, Kerlin said in an interview after the public meeting. The reduction in hours at the affected post offices is scheduled to go into effect by Jan. 9, 2015, he said.
"The U.S. Postal Service, like many businesses, is facing serious financial challenges," Kerlin said at the public meeting, explaining the planned reduction in hours. "The U.S. Postal Service is non-tax supported, so all the money needed to collect, transport, and deliver mail comes from the sale of stamps and other postal products."
There is much less revenue being brought in to operate the post offices, since people use the Internet extensively and are relying less on the U.S. mail to pay bills, send greetings and otherwise communicate with each other, he said.
The U.S. Postal Service is not planning to close any post offices in Bradford County, and is not planning to make any changes at this time to the delivery of mail to Bradford County residents' homes, Kerlin said.
The Postal Service has no plans to reduce the hours of the post offices in certain communities in Bradford County, including Towanda, Sayre, Athens Borough, Troy, Rome, Wyalusing and Wysox, he said.
At the Monroeton meeting, Kerlin said that about four weeks ago, the Postal Service mailed 785 surveys to residents served by the Monroeton post office, which asked them to choose one of four options for the future of their post office.
A total of 263 of the surveys were returned, he said.
The options were:
Keep the post office open, but have it open six hours a day, instead of eight;
Close the post office, and those who were served by its post office boxes would have their mail delivered at home;
Close the post office, and open a post office locally that would be operated by a contractor, which would usually be a business;
Close the post office, and move its post office boxes to a nearby post office.
Ninety percent of those who answered the survey chose the option of keeping the post office open, with reduced hours, Kerlin said.
After reviewing the results of the survey, the U.S. Postal Service has decided that the new hours for Monroeton's post office likely will be 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Monday through Friday, Kerlin said. The post office would be closed for lunch from 12:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., Kerlin said. The post office would continue to be open on Saturdays until 11 a.m.
When the Monroeton post office is closed for lunch, local residents could use the Towanda post office, which does not close for lunch, Kerlin said.
One resident suggested that alterations be made inside the Monroeton post office to separate the area where the post office boxes are located from the rest of the post office. That would allow the public to access their post office boxes when the rest of the post office was shut down for lunch, the resident said.
Kerlin said he would pass along the suggestion to others at the Postal Service.
"It would not be very expensive" to make the alterations, Kerlin added.