Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 9, 2013

Saturday delivery — Another bad postal service decision


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— The hits just keep coming from the U.S. Postal Service. First the postal service tried to close several small community post offices across the region. Then they closed Bluefield’s Mail Processing and Distribution Center — shipping urgently needed local jobs to Charleston.

Now they are considering scaling back window operating hours for dozens of small community post offices across the region. And if that wasn’t bad enough — now Saturday mail delivery is being discontinued effective this summer.

The postal service expects the Saturday mail cutback to begin the week of Aug. 5, according to Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe. The postal service says it must scale back its delivery services to five days a week for everything except packages to avoid additional financial losses.

The postal service, which lost $15.9 billion in the past budget year, expects to save $2 billion annually by eliminating Saturday delivery. Regular mail such as letters would be impacted by the decision, but packages would still be delivered six days a week, according to an Associated Press review of the postal service announcement.

Area lawmakers expressed disappointment with Thursday’s announcement.

“I am disappointed in the postal service’s decision to end Saturday deliveries,” U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said. “In our rural areas, these postal facilities are more than just places to send and receive mail — they are truly the lifelines of their communities and can be the only way a town is able to stay connected. Although the postal service must cut back on spending and get its fiscal house in order, cutting the muscle instead of the fat from its budget will not benefit the agency and will harm our communities in West Virginia and across our country.”

“The postal service cannot circumvent the will of the Congress, which has been explicit in requiring the continuance of six-day mail delivery service for the last 30 years,” U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., added. “Whatever basis the postal service is claiming to discontinue Saturday mail delivery, it runs counter to the spirit and letter of the law, and I intend to press hard to ensure that the postal service abides by the law.  The postal service needs to look at other ways to balance its books rather than cutting off rural customers and undermining its public service obligations.”

Manchin and Rahall are correct. Families in rural areas such as southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia still depend upon regular six day a week mail delivery, as well as having community post offices with regular window hours to mail letters and packages and buy stamps and money orders.

 All area residents concerned about the proposed elimination of Saturday delivery should contact their lawmakers in Washington. And area residents should continue to demand normal operating hours for our small, community post offices.

Many citizens, including those who are elderly, disabled and of low-income, will be adversely impacted when Saturday service is discontinued, and 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 all public meetings still to come. And call your lawmakers in Washington to protest.