Saturday mail delivery may be cut, but not post offices
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Stephanie Austin checks her mail at the Port Townsend Post Office on Wednesday.

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County's four post offices — in Port Townsend, Port Hadlock, Chimacum and Quilcene — will remain immune from closure or Monday-through-Friday counter-service cuts under nationwide cost-reductions measures announced Wednesday by the U.S. Postal Service, agency spokesman Ernie Swanson said.

But they, like all post offices across the nation, will be affected by the Postal Service plan to limit street-address mail-delivery service Saturdays to only parcels, restricting letter delivery to Mondays through Fridays, beginning in August.

“We'll probably have a reduced crew on Saturdays,” Swanson said.

Post offices in Jefferson and Clallam counties employ about 125 people, Swanson said.

The workforce at the Postal Service has decreased over the past six years as the independent government agency has struggled financially with costs, but most of the job cuts have come through attrition, Swanson said.

Most staff cuts will occur in larger offices with city letter carriers, he added.

“I would hate to say we're going to terminate anyone,” Swanson said.

“We'll try to avoid that.”

In addition to proposed cuts in Saturday mail delivery, post offices in Joyce, Sekiu and LaPush in Clallam County may close — or have their daily retail counter-service hours reduced from eight hours to four hours — by September 2014, Swanson said.

Swanson said Postal Service customers in Joyce, Sekiu and LaPush will be mailed surveys asking them which of four alternatives they prefer: shutting down the facility, reducing its hours of retail operation, placing clusters of mail boxes at central locations or establishing a tiny “village post office” that a private business would run under contract with the Postal Service.

The surveys will be followed by community meetings to further pin down what residents prefer, Swanson said.

“If they prefer reduced hours, we ask what block of hours would work best,” he said.

Community meetings have been set for noon Feb. 26 at the Joyce Post Office at 50883 state Highway 112 and at 4 p.m.
Feb. 26 at the LaPush Post Office at 500 Ocean Drive.

A meeting for Sekiu has not been scheduled.

Local residents will be notified of the Postal Service's decision through the mail.

Other post offices in Clallam County are in downtown Port Angeles, Sequim, Carlsborg, Clallam Bay, Forks, Beaver and Neah Bay.

Ray Santiago, 78, of Lake Sutherland was retrieving his mail at noon Wednesday at the Port Angeles Post Office.

The proposed changes will have no impact on him or his wife, he said.

“The government has to do what it has to do,” Santiago said.

Santiago added that he hoped no jobs will be lost.

Francis “Chugger” Deane, 61, of Port Angeles was toting a small package he had retrieved from the retail counter as he walked to his large Snap-On Tools truck.

He, too, was indifferent about the changes.

“It's not going to have any effect on me,” Deane said.

The Postal Service also has consolidated more than 200 mail-processing locations nationwide since 2006, and that's likely to continue, Swanson said.

“We are looking at consolidating some mail-processing operations in the Puget Sound area to do more mail processing in Seattle and less in Everett, Tacoma and Olympia,” he said.



Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 06. 2013 6:14PM
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