Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The decision by the financially challenged U.S. Postal Service to continue with Saturday mail delivery — at least for now — provides a welcomed reprieve for families across rural southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.
Saturday delivery has been — and, with hope, will continue to be — an important lifeline for elderly, low-income and geographically-challenged families in the area who depend on a consistent and timely delivery of the mail.
Here in the mountains, it’s not always easy to walk or drive to the post office — especially when the closest post office may be several miles away. And that’s if the local post office hasn’t already been closed. If it has not been closed, odds are its hours of operation will soon be significantly reduced.
That’s why rural mail delivery is important to folks across our region, and that includes regular Saturday delivery.
The Postal Service announced in February that it planned to switch to five-day-a-week deliveries beginning in August for everything except packages as a way to hold down losses. As part of that plan, the agency requested Congress drop from spending legislation the long-time ban on five-day-only delivery, the Associated Press reported last week. However, lawmakers in Washington did not act upon the Postal Service request when they passed a spending measure last month.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe estimated that eliminating Saturday delivery would save the agency an estimated $2 billion a year. But it would have come at yet another great expense to families across our region.
Retaining Saturday mail delivery — at least for now — is a small victory considering everything we have already lost to date. Bluefield’s Mail Processing and Distribution Center is now gone, and so are the jobs the processing center provided. The closure was another troubling loss for the city of Bluefield. And dozens of small rural post offices across our region will soon have their hours of operation drastically reduced as part of the ongoing restructuring of the agency’s retail, delivery and mail processing operations. These reduced window operating hours will further complicate the ability of families to make it to their post office for a stamp, money order, or to send off a letter or package.
And let’s face it — existing postal service hours are not exactly convenient or even logical for working people. That’s why a lot of working folks find themselves buying money orders and stamps from big box department stores on weekends as opposed to their local post office.
But at least the region will retain Saturday mail delivery — for the time being. And that’s a small victory for families across our region.