Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 12, 2012

Mail processing — Postal service suggestion ridiculous

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— So someone with the U.S. Postal Service apparently thinks area businesses that mail in bulk should drive to Charleston — a four-hour round trip complete with $12 in tolls — in order to ensure a timely delivery of first-class mailings. What a ridiculous statement.

It’s another example of how poorly the entire postal realignment process has been for our region. Despite an outcry of public opposition, we are still losing a critical mail processing and distribution center come this February. The U.S. Postal Service may call this move a “consolidation” with the existing mail processing center in Charleston, but the fact of the matter is we are losing local jobs, and now apparently a guarantee of a timely delivery of our mail. Further complicating matters now is the threat by the postal service to significantly reduce the window operating hours of more than 20 small rural post offices in our region.

In a letter sent to area businesses last week that do bulk mailing, the postal service said those businesses should complete their first-class bulk mailings by 3 p.m. each day or “consider entering your mail at the Charleston facility” on or about Feb. 1, 2013.

Does anyone with the U.S. Postal Service  realize the distance between Bluefield and Charleston? It’s a two-hour drive one way. And you have to pay $12 in tolls for a round trip on the West Virginia Turnpike to Charleston and back. How is this a logical suggestion for area businesses, many of which are already struggling to make ends meet in the current tough economic climate.

Bluefield Mayor Linda Whalen is calling the suggestion “ludicrous.” Whalen says the entire closure process for Bluefield’s mail processing center has been a “dog and pony show.”

“This is our tax dollars at work,” Whalen said last week. “Everyone in the city of Bluefield needs to contact their legislators about this recommendation for us. That is a ludicrous suggestion that we deposit first-class mail in Charleston. The alternative for us is to quit using the U.S. Postal Service and use other mail carrying services. That is not a viable alternative for people in southern West Virginia. It is ridiculous. Someone obviously that is in control of the mail in West Virginia does not know the location of Bluefield or they wouldn’t make a suggestion like that.”

We agree. And we would urge area residents to contact their lawmakers as well. Participation in the remaining postal hearings scheduled across our region also will be critical. Many residents, including those who are elderly, disabled and of low-income, will be adversely impacted when the window operating hours of small post offices across the area are in some instances reduced to four hours a day or less.

There is still time to speak up, and oppose this postal plan. Attend the public meetings still to come. Attend the public meetings still to come. And call your lawmakers in Washington to protest.